Smelly backpackers don't set out to be that way.
I can live without air conditioning, and sleep on mattresses filled with what is probably sand. The luxury I can't do without, though, is a hot shower. I was lucky in Ban Phe that I got to use what I think is the only hot shower in the building. It was fantastic.
I've used cold showers. The ones on Ko Samet aren't bad, because I think the water tanks are heated by the sun. In/on/at Railay, they are not. If you'll recall, I arrived unhappily on a Friday morning after an overnight bus trip. I was greeted by mosquitoes and mangroves and monkeys, but I shunned them all and went to bed. When I awoke, my mood was so precarious that I tested the water and decided that today, I was a dirty backpacker!
Saturday I went swimming and laid on the beach and by the time I got back to my room, I was warm and sticky enough that I was ready to take on that cold shower. Unfortunately, the power was out, and that meant that the water was out. The only seating in my room was my bed, and I tried not to taint it with my sweaty, salty, sunscreeny self as I read a book and waited for the fan to tell me that the power was back. The electricity came back after an hour or so, but by then I had cooled off a bit.
When forced to take a cold shower, the experience is much like a very cautious "hokey pokey." While washing my hair, for instance, the rest of my body cowers away from the water. It is not very effective, but it did.
Sunday...I don't even have an excuse for Sunday. At the end of the day I hosed the sand off my feet and went to bed.
I think that I was looking forward to Monday, when I would come back to Ao Nang on the mainland and settle for nothing less than a hot shower. It wasn't heartening when the desk at my guesthouse had a sign that said, "no electric 9:00 to 17:00." Railay is connected to the mainland, and it's likely that power situations affect them both. I made it ashore around noon, and walked from the fancy beach to the backpacker beach (I would have been unwashed anyway!) along the way I passed a Burger King (they have Burger King here?!) with a sign taped to the door that said, "closed - no have electric." Blast!
I found a room with a theoretical hot shower, and it wasn't even one o'clock yet so I went for a walk and was adopted by a family of dogs on the beach. I don't blame them for being confused. I had lunch (mainland red curry with rice and an egg on top: 45B. My similar curry dinner [preposition] Railay was 210B--more than SIX DOLLARS.) At about four thirty I went to my room and anxiously waited for the electricity to come back, though in Thailand 17:00 could easily mean 19:30. It didn't! It meant 17:03!
As with all things, the moral of this story is to grab what you want when you can have it, because otherwise you might go four days without a decent shower.