Throughout our travels we have hand washed many articles of clothing. Thus we find ourselves grateful for washing machines, and even more thankful for laundry service. Laundry service isn’t so affordable in Europe or high end hotels, but it can be quite quick and affordable in Thailand and Southeast Asia. So, in Thailand, laundry service was a luxury we could afford and we rejoiced in the time and energy it saved us.
As we prepared for a couple weeks in New Zealand with some of our dear friends from home, we hoped to take advantage of the Thai laundry service one last time. Our hotel offered laundry service, but it was way overpriced. So, whenever we left our hotel we scouted the nearby storefronts and even conducted a walk-about of the local area in search of laundry service. Unfortunately, there did not appear to be anything nearby. I began to worry about the growing volume of dirty clothes and brainstorm how we might get them all clean before our impending departure. It would take us hours to hand wash and dry them ourselves and that’s not how we wanted to spend our last day in Thailand.
On our second to last day in Thailand, we ended up taking a boat trip to Phi Phi Island. On the way home from the marina, Kevin and I weighed our laundry options in the car. As we made our way through town, we asked our driver (and manager of the tour company), Ben, if she knew of any laundry facilities in the area. She said that she did not, but offered to take our clothes to the marina’s laundry service and then we could pick them up on our way to the airport. We were hesitant. That might be cutting things too close for our comfort. So, we thanked her for the offer and continued to scout for laundry services along the road.
As we neared the shops closest to our hotel, Ben slowed and we were able to spot a few self-service laundromats. Hey, those just might work! But Ben, true to the kindness we saw all over Thailand, actually stopped at one of the roadside laundromats. She rolled down her window and yelled out to the vendor on the street. The vendor approached the car and Ben began conversing with her in Thai. Periodically, Ben would stop and ask us questions about our laundry: when we needed it; if we needed it pressed and such. She continued to negotiate with the woman in Thai and seemed to work out a deal.
Ben then turned to us and laid out the plan: She would pick up our laundry when she dropped us off at our hotel and then bring it back to the laundromat on her way back through town. The laundromat attendant would then wash it and return it to our hotel within an hour an a half—all for 200 baht (~$6 US)! We agreed and Ben programmed the attendant’s name and phone number into her mobile phone.
We arrived back to the hotel and hustled back to our room to collect our dirty clothes. Ben gave us her business card and told us to call her if our clothes were not returned within a couple of hours. After Ben drove off, we started to second guess ourselves and whether or not it was wise to send practically all of our clothes into the great unknown. We reasoned that worse case, we had one day to make a visit to the local mall if everything disappeared or was ruined. It turns out, we didn’t need to worry long at all.
About ninety minutes later our phone rang. It was our confused concierge notifying us that a laundry bag was just dropped off for us. They offered to deliver it to our door and within five minutes it arrived stacked neatly in the hotel’s branded laundry bag. The clothes were still a bit wet, but that wasn’t a bit deal. We actually preferred that since we like to hang them to dry to prevent any shrinking! We pulled the wet clothes from the bag and began to inventory the items as we hung them around our room to dry. We made it to the bottom of the bag and were thrilled to find that only one pair socks that I rarely wear were missing. Not bad! All in all, it was a great value especially since we didn’t have to spend the night washing clothes in the sink! And, we were happy to be starting the next leg of our journey in New Zealand with a batch of freshly cleaned clothes.
The Land of a Thousand Smiles?
We were more than thankful for the assistance from Ben, the manager at Phuket at Andaman. She helped us locate, negotiate, and drop off our laundry without expecting anything in return. This pretty much sums up our experience in Thailand. It’s called the land of a thousand smiles and the people of Thailand seem to deliver that on every level.