Chinese laundry

I was gone for a while this summer. I spent part of it in Hong Kong and Shanghai, where I have cousins I stayed with. The nice thing abour staying at someone’s home, as opposed to a hotel, is the convenient access to ‘free’ laundry and convenience of drying clothes.

Hong Kong is slowly becoming more environmentally aware (i.e. people are encouraged to use re-usable bags). My HK cousin has a washer and dryer in his flat. When I asked him if I could simply wash the clothes in the machine, but hang them up to dry outside on bamboo poles (like some of the neighbours) instead of using the machine dryer, he looked at me and exclaimed “How ghetto!” (I thought his reaction was hilarious, but decided not to embarass him, and duly shoved my clothes in the dryer)

Actually at home, I hang our wet clothes to dry on a folding rack in the bathroom. It started when California had their mini enegry-crisis in the early’s 2000’s, but we’ve just continued doing so just to save energy. Plus our grandmother in Hong Kong used to do the same thing, hanging wet clothes on bamboo poles. But perhaps her set-up wasn’t as ‘ghetto’, since there was a ‘fence’ built around the area where the clothes would be suspended, so your neighbours couldn’t see your unmentionables, or whatever you were drying.

The following week, found me at my cousin’s highrise flat in Shanghai. His balcony was set up for drying clothes by a) being enclosed in glass, to keep out most of the dust and soot; and b) by having two clothes lines suspended from the ceiling that you could manually lower and raise. This way, you clothes are hung high up closer to the ceiling, to avoid blocking the view from your balcony. Yet you can lower the clothesline for easier access, instead of having to step on a step-stool to reach up high.

However, the neatest thing about drying clothes, Chinese-style, is that they still have bamboo cross-hangers, with little clothes pins suspended from each of the four legs. As opposed to regular clothes hangers, where clothes are hung in 2-D, the cross-hangers have four points from which clothes can be suspended, which means more circulation (in 3-D), and quicker drying. I brought home a few.

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