In Thailand, it is easy to “go native.” For example, when taking a shower, unless at a nice, deluxe hotel, you are likely to find cold showers are the norm. Nothing fancy like you’d see at the Home Water Center back in America, where pampering is the rule. Too much so if you ask me! The reason is the sometimes sweltering humidity. The Thai people are practical. If you want to cool off, why go to the trouble and expense of installing hot water heating systems that you don’t need. Some parts of the year are hotter than others, but most seasons are assuredly warm. Check the info online and you will see.
Coming in from a hike or a stint on the beach, you are ready for a cold dousing. Sweat doesn’t like contact with steam. Unheated water, even at a cold temperature, feels invigorating and just great. I don’t know why so many tourists bemoan the practice and spend extra money to stay in apartments and budget-destroying hotels and miss some local flavor. They have no doubt heard the rumors and are going to be prepared by planning ahead. These hotels and apartments, by the way, usually have handy on-the-wall electric units that will take care of one or two quick showers. But you will get that precious warm fluid you desire!
I am really not clear why this is so important, such a top priority. Do tourists think you can’t get clean with tepid water or that the soap will not produce luxurious suds? Are they going to be harmed in some way? Have they never heard of bathing in a clear water river or stream—so refreshing? Have you never used an outdoor pool or beach shower to rinse off the sand and/or chlorine? The Thai cold shower is therefore not far afield from these practices. And they make absolutely perfect sense.
I remember when I was visiting some friends at a major hotel chain in Bangkok not too long ago, and I was ensconces in a comfortable lobby chair biding my time. I suddenly heard shouting at the front desk. “There’s no hot water,” the tourist shrieked, “do something about it!” The desk clerk looked rather forlorn, then peeved. “Sir,” he spewed. ”Did you not see the unit next to the shower over the toilet? Did you not read the sign in English by the way?” The tourist looked aghast and then apologetic. He muttered a few words and slinked off.
So now you know the harsh, or not harsh, reality of Thai showers depending upon your perspective. You can learn to embrace what others have as part of the native culture or you can fume and fuss and get your hot shower way. I think a good rule of thumb when abroad is to go with the flow, and I mean that both literally and figuratively! Learn to accept what a country has to offer and experience life as it should be in that locale. Your experience will be that much better for your effort.