Daily life traveling is usually more complicated than life lived in one place. These complications are humorous and something I expect. Even so, I still shake my head in wonder and amusement when these moments occur.
I arrived in Battambang from the islands. My clothes were dirtier than I could manage hand washing. I asked at the hostel front desk about laundry. The staff directed me to the Modern Laundry about 5 blocks away. Modern Laundry is the term for washing businesses that use machines for washing instead of washing clothes by hand. Both businesses dry clothes in the sun.
I visited this Modern Laundry 5 times in 2 days. Cue the internal amusement and external smiles with culturally appropriate bowing to indicate appreciation.
- Day 1, Visit 1. Drop off clothes. Confirm clothes would be dried in the sun. Confirm whites would be washed separately. Confirm evening pick-up.
- Day 1, Visit 2. This visit was my fault. I decided to bike ride with Julia but all my exercise clothes where at Modern Laundry. After much explaining, I left with a wonderfully clean smelling wet pair of shorts and a top.
- Day 1, Visit 3. Return to pick up laundry. Discover one of my shirts in a pile awaiting ironing instead of with my clean, folded clothes pack. Point out a bedazzled shirt in my pack that does not belong to me, it is removed. Attempt to pay but my $20 USD bill is too large for the staff to make change. We determine it is best to return tomorrow when I have smaller bills and my shirt is ironed.
- Day 2, Visit 1. Return to Modern Laundry. Pay for clothes and leave with washed, folded clothes in a plastic bag. At my hostel I unpack the clothes and realize my jeans are missing.
- Day 2 Visit 2. Quickly return to Modern Laundry. Explain my jeans are missing. Point to what I believe are my pants nicely folded in someone else’s laundry packet. Retrieve pants.
If when you read this story you imagine a counter always staffed with people ready to help me when I visit, you are wrong. For each visit I would enter the owner’s home, yell hello and the Khmer equivalent, susaday, multiple times and wait a few minutes for someone to pop out and help me. Then, with a language barrier, we would have our conversations.
The family owners of Modern Laundry were lovely and concerned that I would be inconvenienced. For my part, I was amused and reminded that I am living life in a place where order and process are less common. Bottom line – never do laundry in a hurry and smile, a lot.