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香港新时尚:到自助洗衣房看书、喝咖啡、交朋友
Why Laundromats Are the Hot New Place to Hang Out in Hong Kong

来源:纽约时报    2018-04-04 06:41



        HONG KONG — On a bustling Hong Kong street lined with dried seafood stores, where baskets of sea cucumber vie for space with scallops and abalone, one shop stands out. Amid the pungent smells of dried fish and shrimp, the scents of brewed coffee and freshly laundered clothes come wafting out of the aptly named Coffee & Laundry.        香港——在香港熙熙攘攘的街道上,海产干货行鳞次栉比,一筐筐的海参和扇贝、鲍鱼争抢着空间,其中有一家店格外显眼。在鱼干和虾干的刺鼻气味之中,这家店铺飘出了煮好的咖啡和新洗净的衣服的香气,它的名字也恰如其分:Coffee & Laundry(咖啡和洗衣店)
        The shop — half laundromat and half cafe — offers customers a variety of drinks and pastries along with 10 self-service washing machines and dryers.
        这家店半是自助洗衣房,半是咖啡厅,为顾客提供各式饮料、糕点,以及10台自助洗衣机和干衣机。
        Washing their own clothes at a laundromat is a new experience for Hong Kong residents. The first self-service laundromat is believed to have opened only in 2014. Since then, the number has taken off; more than 180 laundromats had appeared by the beginning of this year, according to one estimate.        对香港居民来说,在自助洗衣房里洗衣服是一种全新体验。据说,到了2014年才有第一家自助洗衣房开业。此后数量飞涨。据估计,到今年年初已经开了超过180家洗衣房。
        Why this proliferation of laundromats? The reason is Hong Kong’s increasingly acute shortage of affordable housing. As prices keep soaring in what is already the world’s most expensive property market, residents have been forced to squeeze into ever smaller apartments, leaving little room for washers and dryers.        自助洗衣房为什么会这样激增?原因在于香港日益严重的经济适用房短缺。在这个已经是全球最贵的房地产市场上,房价还在不断上涨,居民被迫挤进更加狭小的公寓,没什么空间来放洗衣机和干衣机。
        The average size of a newly constructed apartment in 2017 was 354 square feet, according to the city’s building department, down from 420 square feet in 2013. And the units are only getting tinier: Thousands of so-called micro-apartments, smaller than 200 square feet, are expected to be built by 2020, according to JLL, a global real estate services firm.        根据香港城市建设部门,2017年新建公寓的平均面积已从2013年的420平方英尺(约合39平方米)缩减至354平方英尺(约合32平方米)。住房单元也只会越来越小:根据全球房地产咨询公司仲量联行(JLL),数千个比200平方英尺(约合18平方米)还小的所谓“微型公寓”,预计将在2020年以前建成。
        “This is an industry created by Hong Kong’s housing issues,” said Katol Lo, one of Coffee & Laundry’s founders. “Even if there’s space for a washer, where would people dry their clothes?”
        “这是一个由香港住房问题造成的行业,”Coffee & Laundry的创始人之一罗德成说。“就算有地方放洗衣机,人们要去哪里晾衣服呢?”
        For a long time, the answer was high above Hong Kong’s bustling city streets. Laundry hung out to dry on poles sticking out from the sides of buildings was so ubiquitous that it was jokingly called Hong Kong’s “national flag.”        很长一段时间里,这个答案高高挂在香港城市繁忙的街道之上。晾晒的衣服被挂在楼房两侧伸出的杆子上,随处可见,以至于被人们戏称为香港的“国旗”。
        That began to change in the 1980s, when washing machines and dryers became affordable as Hong Kong got wealthier, buoyed by the opening up of China’s economy and the city’s establishment as a major financial center.        到了1980年代,随着中国经济的开放,以及香港作为主要金融中心的地位得到确立,香港变得更加富裕,人们买得起洗衣机和干衣机了,这个情况有了改变。
        Walk around Hong Kong’s public housing blocks and old tenement buildings today, and it quickly becomes clear that many residents still hang their clothes outside to dry. But rising incomes have allowed much of Hong Kong’s population to move into sleek, glass apartment towers, without all the visible hanging laundry.        走在香港当今的公共住宅区和旧唐楼内,很快就能发现许多居民仍会把衣服挂在外面晾干。但随着收入水平增长,大部分香港人都搬进了时髦的玻璃公寓大楼,在那里是看不到晾晒衣物的。
        Now, as housing prices grow ever more expensive per square foot, the challenge is no longer affording the washing and drying machines themselves, but finding the space to put them.        现在,随着每平方英尺的住房价格越来越贵,挑战不再是能否买得起洗衣机和干衣机,而是找到一个放它们的地方。
        One result was a surge in demand for drop-off service at commercial laundries, which have long been common in Hong Kong. That led to such a backlog at some laundries that some customers faced days-long waits just to get their clothes back.        后果之一便是商业洗衣房的送还服务需求激增,商业洗衣房在香港一直都很普遍。这使一些洗衣房出现了业务积压,有些顾客要等上好几天才能拿回自己的衣服。
        Enter self-service laundromats.        于是自助洗衣房出现了。
        On a recent evening after work, Michael Bolger, 27, sat reading a dog-eared book while waiting for his clothes at Coffee & Laundry.        前不久的一个晚上,27岁的迈克·博尔格(Michael Bolger)下了班后坐在Coffee & Laundry里,一边看着一本翻旧了的书,一边等着他的衣服。
        Mr. Bolger, a native of Ireland who works at a bitcoin exchange, said that when he first moved to Hong Kong in 2016, his flat was too small to fit a dryer, and the humidity prevented his clothes from drying properly on a line. For a while he used a drop-off laundry, but his clothes would sometimes come back with tears and stains.        博尔格是爱尔兰人,在一个比特币交易平台工作,他说,在2016年刚搬到香港时,他的公寓小得连干衣机都放不下,香港的潮湿也让他不能把衣服挂在绳子上晾干。他用过一段时间的取送洗衣服务,但他的衣服被送回来时常会有裂痕或污渍。
        “It’s nice to just sit and read in a place that’s not your apartment,” he said of Coffee & Laundry. “It’s kind of therapeutic, sitting here and watching the washing machines.”        “在公寓之外的一个地方坐下来看书挺好的,”他在谈到Coffee & Laundry时说,“坐在这里看着洗衣机转,有一种治愈效果。”
        Not far from Coffee & Laundry is a branch of LaundrYup, a local chain of self-service laundromats. The shop, steps away from a street full of antique stores, is tiny and strictly functional, with shiny white floor tiles, bright fluorescent lights and a single red bench. Instead of a cafe, there are lockers rented out to SF Express, a logistics company sometimes referred to as China’s FedEx.        离Coffee & Laundry不远,有当地自助洗衣连锁品牌LaundrYup的一家分店。这家店离一条古董街只有几步之遥,它很小,功能齐全,有着闪亮的白色地砖、明亮的荧光灯和一条红色长凳。这里没有咖啡馆,而是有一些租给顺丰快递的储物柜,这家物流公司有时被称为中国的联邦快递(FedEx)。
        Patten Mak, the chain’s operations manager, said the combination of high demand and low maintenance and labor costs made it possible for even a tiny laundromat to earn the equivalent of thousands of dollars per month, enough to entice new chains to enter the market.        这家连锁店的运营经理帕滕·麦(Patten Mak)表示,自助洗衣店需求量很大,维护和人工成本比较低,所以就连一个很小的自助洗衣店每个月也能赚数千美元,足以吸引新的连锁店进入市场。
        Across the harbor, in the working-class neighborhood of Tai Kok Tsui, a woman tapped away at a game of mah-jongg on her phone while waiting for her sheets to dry at a branch of Water Laundry, another local chain. Nearly every inch of the wall in the small laundromat was covered with machines.        在港口对面的工人阶层社区大角咀,在另一个名为Water Laundry的当地连锁店的一家分店里,一位女士在等自己的床单烘干,她在手机上玩麻将打发时光。这个小自助洗衣店墙边几乎每一寸地方都被机器占据了。
        “Us working class, we don’t have the money to buy a washing machine, and there’s no space to dry clothes at home,” said the 40-year-old housewife, who gave her name as Ms. Lo. She said she lived in a cramped 90-square-foot subdivided flat with her husband.        “我们这些工人阶层没钱买洗衣机,家里也没地方晾衣服,”这位自称罗女士的40岁家庭主妇说。她说她和丈夫住在一间狭小的90平方英尺的分割公寓里。
        “This is an economic problem,” she said. “You wouldn’t use this kind of laundromat if you have money.”        “这是经济问题,”她说,“如果你有钱,你就不会用这种洗衣店了。”
        The spread of laundromats has begun to alter the social fabric of the city as laundry, which was once conducted in private, has been forced into the public realm, said Jianxiang Huang, a professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Design at the University of Hong Kong.        香港大学城市规划与设计系的教授黄健翔表示,自助洗衣店的普及开始改变这座城市的社会结构,因为洗衣服这件曾经私密的事现在被迫进入了公共领域。
        “This is essentially changing the way people socialize, the way people live their lives, changing their mind-sets,” Mr. Huang said.        “这正在从根本上改变人们的社交方式、生活方式,以及思维模式,”黄健翔说。
        That is exactly the goal of Mr. Lo, the co-founder of Coffee & Laundry, who said he wanted his shop to be as much a neighborhood hangout as a place to wash clothes. To this end, he has put tables on the sidewalk and scheduled events like an exhibition of a local comic book artist.        这正是Coffee & Laundry的联合创始人罗德成的目标。他表示,他希望自己的店铺既是洗衣服的地方,也能成为街坊邻居相聚的所在。为此,他在人行道边摆了几张桌子,还安排了一些活动,比如一名当地漫画家的展览。
        On a recent evening, there was a steady trickle of customers going in and out of Coffee & Laundry. Some milled around in slippers and pajama pants, counting down the last few minutes of the dryer cycle. Others said they had come for the coffee and ambience.        前不久的一个晚上,不断有顾客进出Coffee & Laundry。有些人穿着拖鞋和睡衣四处走动,数着干衣机的最后几分钟。也有人说他们是来喝咖啡、感受这里的气氛的。
        “Now in Hong Kong, people aren’t always very neighborly,” Mr. Lo said. Since opening Coffee & Laundry, however, “I’ve gotten to know my neighbors and the owners of dried seafood shops nearby,” he said.        “现在在香港,人们并不总是很友好,”罗德成说。不过他说,自从开了Coffee & Laundry,“我认识了我的邻居以及附近一些海鲜干货店的老板”。
                
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