Laem Mae Phim – The Washing Machine and Other Matters


October 26, 2012
The schedule is irratic but the price is rightOver jet lag after the fifth day (Friday today), I thought. Maybe what I now have is tea lag. A whole pot of tea on the balcony was probably a bit much for my fragile, jet-lag recovering system.

One glass of wine here costs B 150.00 and one of the more expensive dishes which has prawns (various combinations- curry, stir-fried, garlic, asparagus, etc.) costs B 150.00 as well. You can buy wine in most restaurants now and some of te shops are stocking nice bottles of wine. One bottle of wine can cost the same as a bottle of scotch. In fact, compared to beer and soft drinks, wine is quite expensive, probably because it is all imported.

Our big project today is to find a local laundry which will wash our queen-sized sheets. The other laundry which I had used for the last year or so, kept changing the prices until I got fed up. They nearly doubled the prices. There is a laundry on the way to Klaeng. So I need to learn how to ask if the laundry can wash my sheets in Thai. I am making very slow progress in learning the Thai language. I get a lot of smiles and nods when I talk, and, of course, I get a lot of giggles from my feeble attempts. Those five tonal sounds are hard to place with a language which is in itself quite guttural. I usually study my Thai in the car when we are driving to places. Like yesterday, studying during the 45 minute drive to Rayong makes the drive much faster.

A Little Reaction to Stress
One of our Finnish neighbors got angry because he paid “Sun 4 You” to look after his apartment and water his plants. You know the Asians – they never say no to anything, especially if they can earn some money off of us “falangs”. Anyway, the company said that they had watered the plants, but some of them died anyway, so he threw them from his seventh floor balcony down to the parking area. I can tell you, that caused a stir and a half.  Nothing like a bit of excitement to liven up our lives!

Buddhist holiday today – cars on both sides of the road from our apartment block all the way through town. People, people, people. Glad we had our walk early this morning. The beaches will be a pig sty until the cleaning crew and trucks come by after the revelries. We plan to head out of town tomorrow and play golf. Maybe next week we will have our beach back.

Wanted to make western food last night, so I put two pieces of chicken – thighs and legs – into a casserole dish on top of some potato wedges and vegetables on the side – broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, snap peas and topped the veges with chopped garlic, ginger, spring onions, salt and pepper and a little olive oil. Put the dish in the oven on convection at 170 C for 1 hour, and Jhusband, known as JJ here in Thailand, and I went down to the pool. JJ decided to go back early, I stopped to chat with some friends in the pool. Came up after about an hour to find that my husband had turned off the oven, but left the casserole in the oven. When I took the dinner out, all the veges had burned, so we had a light dinner – chicken and potatoes. Dessert ended up being watermelon. Guess I will have to learn to use this oven a bit better.

October 31, 2012 (Wednesday) Episode of the Washing Machine
Washing machine broke down. Probably my fault. I knew that the washing powder here is “very strong medicine”, but I thought I had put in what seemed a reasonable amount.

When we were here last year, I had asked someone in the grocery store what kind of washing powder I should get. That was a project, because first I had to find someone who spoke English and then I had to explain what a washing machine was. I used a lot of hand-to-air illustrations before my question was comprehensible. We finally agreed on a washing powder which I happily took home. I put the powder in a large container with the little scoop that comes with the powder. (I kept the bag, so I could figure out what to buy next time, since I don’t (yet) read Sandscript.) I used a full scoop and filled up the designated compartment in the loading part of the machine. Oh boy. Once the machine started washing I had suds everywhere. A scoop here is about the size of 2 tablespoons – back home we use half a cup. Just think how much filler there must be in the washing detergents we have in the States and Europe! Anyway, I got a small index card and indicated how much powder I should use for future reference. Problem: When they cleaned the apartment just before we came again this year, they cleaned out the “laundry room” and threw away my note on how much washing powder to use.

So, having entered the age of limited memory, I filled up the little scoop again for the washing. Problem. Yup, you guessed it. Suds everywhere. Second time I put in less powder. There were not suds this time, but there sure was a lot of water on the floor. Problem. Washing machine needs repair.

I headed down to the office in our apartment block to ask the Juristic Person here, for help. I explained that my washing machine was broken down and could she help me find someone to repair it. She said she would send her “handyman” to have a look. If he could not fix it, she knew who to call at the Electrolux Company. The “handyman” could not come that day because he was working at another place, but he would come 8:00 a.m. Thursday morning.

Sure enough, Thursday morning he came at 8:30 a.m. – which in reality is 8:00 a.m. Thai time. He took off his shoes, which you do here before entering an establishment, and I showed him the washing machine. He walked around, looked at the back of it and said, “I go to office.” Since there is no one in the office  until around noon, I could not ask the manager what the verdict was. Since the “handy man” never came back, we assumed that he could not fix the washing machine.

Later that morning, I went to the office to ask the manager what the situation was. She said the “handy man” could not fix the problem, we would have to call an Electrolux repairman.  The manager did not have the phone number, but she would get it from her husband  when he got back from Pattaya (a 1- hour drive from here). I went down again later and was told that thethe Electrolux company had been called, but no one could come Thursday or Friday. Thursday was a big Buddha Day in Thailand with a lot of activities and in most towns the main streets were blocked off and people were on holiday. Friday morning I stopped by at the office again, and pleasantly asked anyone had heard from the Electrolux Company regarding a repairman to fix my washing machine. “Not yet,” was the reply.

We had had our usual 4-km walk, but now I needed a massage as well. It does help us to deal with life’s situations much better after some exercise and a good massage. On the way back to the apartment, after the massage, we decided to just smile and wave to as we walked by the office. Patience, friendliness and remaining pleasant are essentials to living in Thailand.

Meantime, I had found a laundry down the road. How do you find a laundry here in Thailand when you don’t speak Thai, you might ask? Simple, you drive along VERY slowly and look for laundry hanging on racks along the road. In our case, we needed the bedding washed, so we had to find a laundry with sheets hanging out in the sun. Bingo. Found one. Next challenge, how do you explain you want the bedding washed and ironed? Well you learn a few Thai words and use a lot of hand-to-air illustrations. I was lucky. The lady spoke a little English, I spoke a little Thai. She nodded and pointed to the calendar to show me when the bedding would be ready for me to pick up. So, practicing my Thai, I proudly intoned the days of the week, until we got to the day when the laundry would be ready. Sure enough, the laundry was ready and having a queen-sized sheet and duvet cover washed and ironed came to Baht 80.00 (Dkr 15.00, US $2.60, £1.62). Why the heck did I bother with a washing machine?!?!?!

Back to the washing machine. Saturday, we went for our usual 4-km walk at 7:30 a.m. Not only is it pleasant and cool at that time of the morning, but there are very few people on the beaches. We got back and headed up to the apartment for our morning shower and then breakfast. We were both in the bedroom, the door closed, my husband  had just finished in the shower and I was getting ready to hop in when there was a knock on the bedroom door! We both looked at each other in surprise and amazement! I wrapped a towel around me and slowly opened the bedroom door and there stood the manager’s assistant giggling (Asians giggle when they are embarrassed, don’t you know), and handed me a mobile. I answered the mobile to hear the manager telling me that the repairmen from Electrolux were outside our apartment to fix the washing machine. So I quickly put on some clothes and headed out to the walkway at the back of our apartment to let in the repairmen. I explained to them what the problem was and they went to work. Problem. “Cannot fix. Need piece (spare part).” So now (Sunday when nothing will happen, of course). we are waiting to see when the spare part will arrive and when the repairmen will come fro Pattaya (1-hour drive to here) to fix the washing machine, which they, hopefully, will. Meantime, the laundry down the road is very pleased to take care of our shirts, shorts, etc. while I hand wash the socks, underpants and bras in a bucket.

So, what is essential to living in Thailand? Patience, of course. Good humor, of course. And SMILE!

Sabaidee Kah!

Tonight we are going to Villa Bali for Pizza! Hope their ovens are working.