When I was growing up, every so often, we’d all go to the big laundry in the local swimming baths. This was in the age before everyone had washing machines. Usually, we’d take laundry that was bulky, such as bedsheets. After washing and drying, we’d put the linen through these huge rollers to iron the sheets. It was like some Dickensian factory.
I was reminded of this when I went to a laundry here in Hong Kong. Since I travel light (my total luggage, one rucksack, is about 10kg), I must do the laundry every week or so. Sometimes I can do this in the place I’m staying. In the case of Taipei, the hostel’s washing machine was free to use. You paid only for the dryer. The dryer, however, wasn’t particularly good. Once, someone hogged the dryer for two hours because he was leaving the following day and needed his clothes dry. After a French couple told me that there was a laundrette just next to the hostel and that its dryer was much quicker, I used that.
In Hong Kong, none of the places I stayed in had laundry facilities. There were, however, plenty of well-designed laundrettes nearby. In the laundrette I went to, each washer and dryer had an ID, as you can see in the photo (W1, W2, D1, D2, etc). There’s a touch-sensitive screen on the wall on which you enter the machine ID and how you want to pay. You can use the same charge card (Octopus) that you use for transport and paying in shops. When you press the start button on the machine, the washing power/liquid is automatically dispensed. It was all impressively slick and another example of how Hong Kong makes it extremely easy to part with your money — in this case about $10 for washing and drying, the most expensive laundry in East Asia!
The laundry had CCTV. When I went, there was a wanted poster showing the face of someone who had decided to take someone else’s laundry.