Let it all hang out

I have taken another step towards becoming more assimilated into the local culture.

No, I still haven’t mastered the four tones of Mandarin.

And no, I don’t “hack” and spit onto sidewalks and out of taxi windows. [I really don’t know an English word that would be apt enough to describe the fullness of the sound and sense of gathering up one’s saliva with a certain amount of gusto and complete commitment to annihilating those “spit demons” once and for all – so “hack” will have to act as a polite, but utterly inefficient stand-in. “Clearing one’s throat” – another polite and completely misleading term… ]

And I’m afraid, I still can’t face the thought of eating chicken beaks and feet.


There are many different ways of hanging out your washing: here are some of them…

As you can see, if your apartment doesn’t have its own set of “washing-poles”, it is simply a matter of finding the nearest tree or electricity pole and you can rig up your own wash line. No one seems to mind having their own or anyone else’s underwear on display at street level; it’s just a way of life.

It really seems crazy (and not very eco-friendly) to use the tumble-dryer on a beautiful day of sunshine. The clothes horse works fine for most things that you can hang on a clothes-hanger, but sheets and duvet covers have always been a problem.

For two years I have had to resort to using a tumble-dryer (all-in-one washing machine/tumble-dryer was provided as part of our furnished rental) or our common-old-garden standing clothes horse to dry my washing.

Wanna be linen drier!

If it wasn’t for the fact that we live on the 12th floor, there is many a day that I would have had my beady eye on a few of the neighbourhood trees and poles!

This year, we requested our landlord to install a “washline-on-a-pulley” contraption on our balcony. I don’t even know the proper English term for it because in SA we had plenty of space outdoors and used a good, old-fashioned wash line connected to a post planted firmly in our back garden. After a few communication complications (somehow the landlord thought we wanted another tumble-dryer), we now have our very own “able-to-hang-your-sheets-out-to-dry-can-move-up-and-down-using-a-pulley” contraption firmly ensconced on our balcony.

We also have a new tumble-dryer which was purchased before the lost-in-translation problem came to light, which we had to put in our guest room because there is no space in the “service balcony”, so I really have a lot of options when it’s time to get that washing dry!


4 Responses to “Let it all hang out”

  1. 1 saigon shopper
    May 12, 2011 at 21:05

    That is one amazing contraption you have there! Very sophisticated compared to the poles straight out the kitchen window, or the plane-trees-and-wire option. Even in Tianzifang, above all the trendy shops an eateries, we had unrestricted views of the underwear of local residents,and it wasn’t all designer underwear either……

  2. 2 chick from africa
    May 13, 2011 at 02:00

    Hope you don’t have a wind storm and arrive home to hangers only 😦

  3. 3 Lara
    May 13, 2011 at 15:02

    Now that you’ve got the laundry problem sorted, and have made another step towards the authentic Chinese way of life, you may need to start practicing that “hack” technique!

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