It is important to have a stable supply of hot water when we travel, especially in cold weather. In China, many guesthouses and cheaper hotels have no heater, so in the winter, when the temperature isn’t very low, it could already be quite chilly. When I was in Yuangshuo (陽朔) in mid Dec, with ~5-10 C, the wooden floor was already freezing cold that I couldn’t walk around the room without my flip-flops on.
Don’t Assume 24/7
While most guesthouses say that they have hot water supply, don’t assume that the supply is available for 24/7. Ask first. While we most likely can work around our schedule and take our shower when the hot water supply is available, we don’t want to get ourselves naked in the freezing bathroom before finding out all we get is biting cold water. And if one needs hot water out of the scheduled time, ask the hostel manager for special arrangement. I bet they won’t mind to make such arrangement for you.
Notice I say “stable” supply? I remember when I was in Altay Mountains of Xinjiang, I stayed in a hotel for a night, so we could get to Hanas Lake very early the next morning. Altay is in the northern Xinjiang, close by Mongolia and Russia, so it was already quite cold when we were there in September. I shared a room with a friend and she took her shower first. When she came out from the bathroom, I saw her lips turned purplish. She told me the water turned cold after a few minutes of shower, so she just rushed herself and got her shower done asap before getting frozen. Later we went to the front desk and found that we should give the electric water heater in our bathroom a much longer time to heat up the water before using the water. And due to the small size of the water heater, we should keep our shower time within ten minutes. Good that I learnt this before I took my shower. Haha.
Either Too Hot or Too Cold
While there are many stories of water not being hot enough, it could also be disastrous when water gets way too hot. The guesthouse I stayed in Huanghao had hot water, some very hot water. Unlike most showers, the hot water temperature for this one was fixed. So, one got either cold water or boiling hot water. Instead of getting into all the trouble of drying up, putting on clothes, getting to the lobby and finding the manager for some not-guaranteed help, I just moved as fast as possible and get out of the shower as quickly as I could.
Hence, by learning more about the hot water supply of the guesthouse that we are staying in before jumping into the shower, we may save ourselves from getting a cold after a ten-minutes attempt to adjust the water temperature for the shower, while standing naked and wet in a freezing bathroom, with teeth chattering and knees knocking.