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9 tips for surviving without hot water

[15 November 2010 | Б.Жаргалан]

UB is supposedly the world’s coldest capital, but it may also be the hottest given its scorching hot summers and lack of air conditioning. To make things worse, summer is hot water outage season. If you take regular showers, you may have noticed that UB’s district heating network cuts hot water in every district for two whole weeks. They say that the downtime is needed for network repairs and maintenance operations (we think that the engineers only do this to torture us because they are underpaid and grumpy).

How to keep your sanity when it is boiling hot outside, but your faucet only delivers freezing cold water? “Nine Seventy Six” magazine comes to the rescue.

1. Face it.

A cold shower never killed anybody. In fact, Finns swear to the medicinal qualities of ice cold water. They would know: ice diving is an age-old Finnish ritual. Apparently, a cold shower can improve circulation, strengthen immunity and relieve depression. Some people even go as far as to claim that cold water works wonders for male fertility. Even if these claims aren’t true, cleanliness is reason enough. However, a cold shower is not for the faint of heart. It is best to start at your feet, and gradually move the shower head up to let your body get used to the cold. If you suffer from heart disease, read on because the cold may shock your system.

2. Heat it.

If you can’t face a cold shower, go medieval. Heat some water and take a sponge bath. It helps if you have a large electric kettle at your side. Lather up a loofah, wipe yourself clean and rinse with a pitcher of lukewarm water. If it was good enough for Marie Antoinette, it should be good enough for you.

3. Simmer it.

A friend of mine has a theory: he proposes drawing a cold bath in the evening, and letting it sit through the night. He stipulates that the cold water might just reach room temperature by the time you get up the next morning. It might help if your bathroom is overheated. A disclaimer: we haven’t tried this out yet, but if you do, please let us know whether it works.

4. Steam it.

If you think you know what SMS stands for, think again because texting has nothing to do with it. SMS (sauna, massage and sex) refers to the services offered by dingy establishments hidden in the basements of run-down apartment buildings. But a trip to the sauna doesn’t need to involve dirty acronyms. Almost every hotel in UB boasts a sauna, thus your choices are endless, even if you are not looking for an adventure. Moreover, UB has a plethora of Korean style bathhouses. These sprawling complexes offer several different types of saunas as well as body scrubbing services to get you squeaky clean. Perhaps SMS should stand for “sauna, massage and a scrub”.

5. Charge it.

For those of us, who are too modest to walk around naked in a public sauna, simply renting a hotel room would accomplish the mission. Be sure to call the hotel before checking in to see if they have hot water because not all hotels have a boiler. Although this may be the most expensive route, there are many hotels that offer hourly rates (we are not too sure why, see SMS above).

6. Friend it.

The district heating network goes out of its way to bring people together. Call everybody you know and ask if they have hot water. Make a list of friends and relatives, who are privileged enough to take hot showers in the morning, and schedule your visits accordingly. It helps if you butter your friends up by bringing a couple of beers or a bottle of wine, depending on the inclinations of the host.

7. Rough it.

Showers are overrated, anyway. A little body odor goes a long way if you are trying to scare off unwelcome suitors. It also prevents people from clinging to you in lines, elevators or buses. However, if you haven’t showered in a couple of days, we beg you not to wear perfume – the combination of sweat and Dior can be nauseating (believe us, we would know).

8. Invest it.

It is unbelievable, but a nice, hot shower is only a gadget away: a modest investment of MNT 200,000 will free you from the whims of (hot) water fairies. Tankless water heaters are all the rage in ger districts, and granted, this is the easiest solution. But life in Mongolia is an adventure, so why ruin it? Knowing that a hot shower is a luxury sure helps put things in perspective.

9. Forget it.

Go to a tropical island somewhere and forget showerless UB for a while. After all, you deserve a vacation.

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