A Travellerspoint blog

Cleanliness is Next to Slovenliness?

Living the Clean Dream

When you travel your general appearance seems to takes a down turn, or should I say, when I travel it takes a down turn because I think it is maybe not the case if you are spending a week in Paris and staying at the Metropole. I do see people look lovely all the time and I’m not sure how they do it but it clearly does not involve any of the following; late nights, early mornings, vegetable deficiency, meat deficiency, walking blocks with a backpack on, unclean clothes and exposure to the elements.

As what you might call “a backpacker” my appearance at times can get a little shaky. I tend to wear whatever is clean or on the top of my bag with little regard for fashion or generally not looking homeless or like a nutcase.

I might look like a freak who fell through a clothesline but at least my random selection of clothes are clean. Well. Cleanish. On the travelling trail I usually have to hand wash my clothes and have them hanging from bunk bed railings to achieve this but you can only do this when you have enough free time in a city to waste washing and enough time to wait for drying. So it is not always possible.
I usually find it easier when I am travelling with another person and there is a universal ‘keeping an eye on’ the state of our mutual cleanliness. Alone I just keep reaching in for clean clothes and finding the cupboard bare.

So what do I do when my clothes are all dirty? More than once I have just gone out and bought something new but most of the time it involves reassessing your standards and prioritising your clothes, ie. “that’s dirty at maybe a stage 3, I can wear it again” and “I’ll just quickly handwash some underwear and dry it with a hair dryer” and that’s a new days clothes. Reinforcing here the lowering of standards.
Obviously though there are times when things just quite plainly, get grim. This is usually when your bathers become underwear and your pyjamas become clothing.

Earlier this year I went to South East Asia for about 2 months. To say I looked like a scrubba the majority of the time is a fair statement. Humidity was unkind to me to the point where it was best not to be in photos because I just looked hot, sweaty, frizzy and plain exhausted.
In Asia you can get your clothing laundered – washed and dry – and they practically pay you for the honour it’s that cheap, yet both my friend and I were both out of respectably clean clothes more than once. ie. Not a single thing was suitable to be put back on (again).

One such time in Vietnam we had exhausted our options, even worn our ‘nice’ going out clothes during the day. It had to be done so we upended our packs and took all our things to a lady across from our hotel and we felt good about ourselves and how proactive we had been. That afternoon our laundry was still not ready as it had been a miserably wet afternoon so she said come back the next day. Ok I suppose we can. We walked away and realised that while our day had been spent on a boat and in our bathers that evening we were to dine out and sample the thriving (knife wielding) nightlife of Nha Trang.

I cannot remember what I found to wear but I think I was lucky enough to have a moderately clean dress (only about 2-3 wears) which I wore over my bathers. My friend fashioned a top from a sarong and a few safety pins. This is what happens when you leave washing to the last minute.
The next day we still didn’t have our clothes she needed more time. I was starting to think she had done a runner with my Target wardrobe, selling my stuff on eBay.

Out to breakfast in our bathers and luckily our plan for the day was to go to a mud bath. The mud baths came and went. We were still suitably unclothed. It had literally been 48 hours without clothing, I think by that afternoon we had given up on life and of ever being reunited with a bra and just had a nap in our muddy bathers.

Later that day we got our clothes back and we were quite elated. We kept them folded in their bags so as to not spoil them with bag grot. That night we left Nha Trang feeling awesomely clean, and at last supported.
You know it’s been a bit tragic when all you can do is remark on how amazing you smell because you have a faint lavender woft from actually being clean.

Having clean clothes changes your attitude. I stole a comb from that hotel, I still have it, it was part of my attempt to look a little better in Asia. It didn’t last. I would have washed my hair the next morning and sweated it into an afro by breakfast and cursed a reclining cave Buddha.

So that’s the story of the time I wore bathers for two days. I apologise for telling it. I hope your opinion of me has dropped slightly, deservedly so. It’s just so hot there ok.

Did I learn my lesson? Of course not. I have been out of clothes for the most part all week. I just went and bought new socks so I had clean ones. And new hat to instead distract people from looking at my dirty clothes. *click, click, up here, look a pom pom*

Dire. Lucky I travel alone. I am getting some sympathetic looks from Polish mammas, from a combination of looking unkempt and wearing clothes from the foreign Far East. I think they want to spit on a hankie and wipe the dirt off my face and pop me in a nice frock and run a comb through my hair.
Feel awesome in my new socks though just the same.

IMG_3702.jpg IMG_5840.jpg
L;Our clothes drying and mocking us from above. R; Both an example of my ridiculous attire and a look at my new, clean socks.

Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy 11:47 Archived in Vietnam Tagged clothes backpacking handwashing laundry

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