Tuesday, May 7, 2013

When you gotta go...

Today we have a special guest post from Meanwhile in Thailand, who just returned from a year abroad in Thailand. Enjoy! 

If you are travelling in Asia (or many other parts of the world outside of America), you will likely be confronted with a terrible combination: intestinal discomfort and a less than optimal toilet. There are a couple of options that can confront you so here is a list to help you prepare yourself mentally.

The first situation is that you get lucky and there's a fully flushable western toilet. Congratulations, you've just found an oasis in the middle of the desert. Consider yourself lucky, enjoy the clean feeling the hose will bring and leave it clean for the next lucky customer.

Slightly less optimal, but still passable, is the bucket flush toilet. These are often Western styled toilets (sometimes slightly shorter/smaller) without a flushing mechanism. There is water in the toilet bowl and usually in a bucket or basin next to you. Simply do what you must, deposit your toilet paper in the nearby trash bin and throw a good couple of bucketfuls of water down the toilet to get rid of the aftermath. One bucket is usually not enough, FYI.

Finally there is every traveler's worst fear. The squat toilet - and not a nice one. Usually, it's on a moving train or in a bathroom covered in water. It's terrifying and you are rightly intimidated. You've sat down all your life, that's how everyone has always done it. You are scared, your stomach hurts and you make that bold choice. So here are some tips.

don't be scared!
First, if you can get rid of your pants and underwear, you are better off getting them out of the way. Squats are sometimes nice enough to have a rack or coat hanger you can use and if you can, take advantage. If not, pull them down enough to be out of the way but mind the floor, it isn't likely to be clean or dry. In Asia, you will see people squatting to rest on the side or the road or almost anywhere. This is the same position you want to emulate when squatting: low to the ground with the backs of your calves against your thighs. Your bottom will only be about six inches from the ground but keep a wide base for stability. You can put all your weight down like this and it is almost comfortable (almost). Do not squat like a power lifter - you are too high up and will probably miss because you'll be off balance. Missing can be disastrous so don't do it - best case is you just hit the floor, worst is yourself and your clothes. Again, once you are done, clean up, bucket flush, find your pants and hopefully your dignity. Congratulations, you are done. Hopefully, you feel better.

A few notes: bring your own toilet paper or you will most likely do without. Sometimes you might find a hose, most of the time you will go without anything if you leave it to chance. In a lot of cases, toilet paper can't be flushed. For most of us, that's a little icky but fold it up or wrap it in more tp and hopefully there's a bin for deposit. If not, good luck to you. You can leave it in the corner for someone else, or try and deal with it yourself. There are no good answers to this problem, I'm afraid.

Lastly, when it hits, just try and relax and let it go. Some people actually do end up like squatting and it might just be you. But probably not, so just get it over with. You can always laugh or blog about it later.

1 comment:

  1. I am now sufficiently terrified to travel outside of the Western hemisphere.