The laundry element of our trip comes usually once a week. It includes having access to a washing machine, understand how it works, find washing powder and research for enough space to hang our clothes.
While in Eastern Europe and European Russia it was very much like at home – we were couchsurfing, people had washing machine similar to ours and would give us washing powder and place to hang -, things changed since we arrived to Ulan-Ude and we went to the Buryatia School.
At the school there were no washing machines and the job was done in the banya, the kind of sauna room, where we heated the water and handwash the clothes.
After that was the Severobaikalsk experience to show our landlady how a washing machine works and we had our first surprise of a washing machine which does not have a water boiler included. It receives water from the cold and hot water taps and uses at the temperature it comes. You can only choose if to use only the cold tap, or only the hot or both. The drum on those kind of machines is vertical, which seems not to mix so well the clothes and you also choose how much water it should put in, as the machines are huge (9kg or more) and there is no sensor of where the clothes end. I was impressed by that machine in Severobaikalsk, our first incursion to deep Siberia, land of the BAM railway. I was just saying “this is a russian washing machine, elsewhere they are more advanced, this is just a cheap product”.
Our washing in Russia after that was on the basin, as we could not find neither laundries (well, we did find one in Komsolmolsk but seemed more a industrial one for hotels) . We had a travelling laudry tube for hand washing which served well.
Arrived to Japan it was the paradise. Coin launderettes on every corner (almost) which drying machines and you could easily buy in drugstores individual packages of washing powder. Due the humidity and consequent sweating we washed twice in a week. However the machines were very simple (and old) and no choice of temperature and once we were sure that was only cold water used…
Now we are in Korea (soon in China) and we are amazed as the washing machines are the same that we found in Russia! Just that the buttons are in Korean but with google language tools this is not a problem (in China will be, I don’t know how to write in chinese keyboards). And here we also see that this huge machines sometimes only have cold water in, and no way to warm it. So wash with cold water is the only solution. Result: towels start to have a funny smell after two days, socks are not completely clean as we wish. Fortunately in the motel we are staying now the washing machine had hot water and we did wash everything with the boiling (60 degrees?) water, even clothes that are supposed to go on 30, but well, not so much choice.
Lets hope in China things will not be difficult!