Daily Banya

My last winter in Spokane was a cold one. In and effort to save money the boys at the Dollhouse (as they-and everyone else-so fondly called their house) made the insane decision to not use their heater. This resulted in many days huddled under blankets and curled in sleeping bags as I pined for the New Zealand summer I was miserably missing out on. We would hang blankets from doorways and isolate one room when the unbearable cold forced them to turn on the space heater. You could see your breath in that house all winter.

I wasn’t the only one reminiscing of adventures past in far away places though. Taylor had recently come back from studying abroad and was regaling us with tales of banyas (saunas) in eastern Europe when when it struck us…a tiny little seedling of an idea , an idea that-because the whole lot of us were both crazy, creative and cold enough to let it- grew into a reality. We could create our own sauna.

I cant really remember where we found the tarp, but somewhere we found a tan tarp large enough to span the entire length of the kitchen. Obviously, we needed a source of heat, and found the oven to be suitable. Deciding to test it out we fired up the oven and waited in impatient anticipation for it to heat up. In the meantime we crafted our makeshift sauna by fastening the tarp over the stove top and across the kitchen to the counter opposite, making sure it was as airtight as possible. I cant exactly remember if we used water in the oven to create steam or if we made it a dry sauna..I seem to remember water, Paddy does not. Either way we waited for the oven to heat up and finally opened it, releasing heat and successfully warming up our makeshift sauna. Success!

Now I’m here in Thailand and living in a permanent sauna since we are in the hot season, day after day. I didn’t have to build this sauna, it just exists. And let me tell you, this sauna is nowhere near as glorious as the one we built in Spokane. You know why? Because I can’t escape this one. If I got too hot in that kitchen I could simply run outside into the frigid winter air, freeze as I run barefoot through the snow, and run back under that tarp into a happy box of heat. Here I can’t get out of it! I take about 3 showers a day and I melt the second I step outside. Believe it or not I actually kind of miss winter. We did have a few days of relief during Songkran, which I will write about later. On the bright side the hot season is beginning to end and for the past couple of nights there have been some wicked storms…and these storms at least temporarily release us from this permanent sauna.


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