Laundromats have finally come to Taiwan, and with them the ability to dry clothes in a matter of minutes instead of waiting for the wind and sun to do the job.
This is a triumph of convenience and comfort, considering that most residents have been hanging their wet clothing on balconies or in sun drenched windows for decades.
One finds the quality of drying in a humid environment ranging from almost dry but not quite –with mold and mildew possibilities – to rigor mortis dry. Space in a densely populated area is a premium and extended clotheslines, with the exception of a communal drying green, are not feasible.
As America grew and prospered (post WWII), housing developers raced to keep pace with burgeoning families. A new demand for more efficient modes of transportation brought about the automobile in every garage, user-friendly lawn grooming introduced the power mower, a streamlined irrigation system established the in-ground sprinkler, and as a means to dry one’s clothing within 30 minutes of being washed, the home dryer.
However, even today mostly in rural areas, where distance and poverty preclude the use of a public laundromat, one must string rope/cable through a pulley tethered to another structure like a barn or garage.
One can still find hill hoists, clotheshorses, and drying racks of different variations in urban and suburban America.
2012 finds Asia and most of the developing world still relying heavily on Mother Nature to dry clothing. Relatively small housing space prevents the widespread installation of in-home dryer hookups.
So, personal dryers are still sometime off for the foreseeable future even though many in both China and Taiwan have in-home washers.
Since this writer has been visiting China and Taiwan (1997), I have often wondered why no one has opened up a public laundromat. Surely, they are aware of this advancement in other parts of the world?
And the money to be made only would have the sky as the limit. So this year when I came back to Taiwan, I was pleasantly surprised that some business person(s) had decided to invest in and build a series of laundromats.