A Brief Toilet Guide to Asia

Fortunatly "toilet" has become a universal word. Unfortunatly its exact definition has not. A toilet guide is a very serious thing. I only wish that we had known our toilets more thouroghly before entering Asia so as to be prepared for their usage. If you follow our guide completly, your toileting expirence in Asia should be a safe and enjoyable one.

1. Most hotel rooms and some restaurants come equipped with your typical Western toilet. Things to keep in mind:

  • Everything is smaller in Asia. For more vertically enhanced (and sometimes for those not so vertically enhanced) care should be taken to avoid knee abrasions and other injuries.

  • Outside of Japan, many Western toilets are not capable of handling toilet paper. Hints to which of these toilets may be faulty is a wastebasket full of toilet paper nearby.

2. In public places where there are not Western toilets you will encounter what we not so kindly refer to as "squat pots." These are rectangular porceilin pots situated in the floor, or in some cases slightly above the floor. Things to keep in mind:

  • In many places, if you haven't brought your own toilet paper you're not going to find any. However, at places like railway stations and bus depots there may be a charge to use the toilet and often for a few extra coins they will give three squares of toilet paper.

  • Asian women might be adempt at manuvering in nylons and heels, but this not advisable for amateurs.

  • When travelling into Asia you might want to consider a regimen of deep knee bends to stregthen your muscles at least two months before.

  • In some areas, like Thailand, you will notice that the squat pots do not have handles to flush. Stop, look around, you will find a bucket of water and small plastic bowl. Use the bowl to scoop water from the bucket and clean yourself, then pour the water into the squat pot to flush. DO NOT put toilet paper in these styles of squat pots!

  • Be aware that many trains, outside of Japan, are equiped with squat pots. These pots open directly onto the train track. DO NOT look down, and try to ignore the whirring sound from beneath you. Be sure to brace yourself against walls in the event of any shifting in the train, which is very common. A fellow traveller related this exercise to surfing and said that if it were an Olympic sport it's level of difficulty would be 7.9.

3. The most memorable toilet we encountered was what Cassidy fondly refers to as the Japanese "butt bath." It is by far the Ferrari of all toilets from its heated seat to its highly technical computerized functions. On one side of the toilet you will see a panel of buttons. These control a small tube that protrudes inside the pot, allowing you to choose the pressure and angle of the sprinkler and blow-drier hiddden inside the tube. Things to keep in mind:

  • Start with the lowest functions and work your way up

  • Be sure to be fully seated before atempting to use any of its amenities. Although it is equiped with a censor to read if someone is on the toilet, it does not know where you are on the toilet. Wet shirts and dripping walls can attest to this.

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