April 19, 2012

Potty Talk - What to Know Before You Go

Ready, set, squat.
Welcome to Asia a land of smiles, beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine, fascinating temples and non-flushing toilets. Before I arrived in Thailand I was unaware of the bathroom situation I would soon embark on. I stepped off the big plane from America and went to the first stall I could find expecting to see a regular toilet. As my eyes drifted down to the ground I thought to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” For newcomers to Thailand, you need to know a thing or two about a squat before you step into a stall or else you’re in for a special treat.

There are 3 main types of toilets in Thailand:

Scooping water for flushing.
      1. The Squat: Let’s just hit the ground running and start off    with the worst, ay? The squat is a porcelain bowl no more    than 3 inches above ground. You mount this puppy with feet placed on footpads on each side of the bowl and just like the name implies, you take the squat position and get ready for action. If you choose to stray from my advice and put your feet on the outside of the squat, get ready for a splash fest bigger than Songkran. The water trough beside you is not for rinsing your hands. Take a doggy bowl type bucket and fill it up with water from the trough and transfer it into the squat until everything goes bye- bye. You may as well take your pants off the first few times; the squatter takes some getting use to for farang.

Free standing toilet doubles as shower rest.
      2. The Sitting Manual Flush Squat: You’ll find this gem freestanding in the middle of your shower. If you want to take a rest mid-shower it comes in handy. It’s a bit larger than a squat but resembles the miniature toilet used in elementary school.  Next to this contraption is a saucepan shaped bucket floating on water inside a larger bucket. I think you know the protocol for the next step. You may also notice a hose much like a kitchen hose  in the U.S.A.  This is a “butt hose” or a “bum gun.” When you’re ready to wipe, the butt hose comes into play. Hose yourself   down from front to back and don’t forget to leave   time to dry. If your aim isn’t on point, you’ll give yourself a mini-shower at an  inopportune time.

Butt hose action.
      3. A Regular Flushing Toilet: In more modern   places like shopping malls and Tesco you will find regular   sized flushing toilets but you will NEVER have toilet paper or a butt hose. So no butt hose, no tissue what   do they expect you to do, drip dry? Sometimes there is a vending machine in the bathroom where you can buy tissue paper.  On the rare occasion that you   do have toilet paper in your stall (2% of the time), don’t think twice about putting it in the commode. This is a huge no-no.

Researchers and proctologists have raved for years about the benefits of squatting toilets and the health ailments caused by sitting toilets. Maybe true, but for sanitary purposes I prefer to go sit style and flush it all away with as much toilet paper as I would like. Now that you’re in Southeast Asia remember that I warned you! With a little practice, patience, and a pack of tissues on hand at all times (it’s a hot commodity here) you can master the squat too.  If you’re still having potty problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but a SQUAT ain’t one!  
Squat toilet with a butt hose and a flushing trough.

Elegantly flushing a squat.

1 comment:

  1. I have experienced all of the above and you did it with good taste and humor. Kudos