…But not everyone wipes (or washes their hands afterward).
So I’ve been in China now for almost a month and other than a few minor problems (internet connection being one of them), things have been going rather smoothly. Except for the other day.
One day last week, I was forced to do something I had completely avoided during my 12 months in Korea and 10 months in Turkiye. I used a floor toilet.
Many of you may not know what a floor toilet is (particularly if you haven’t traveled outside the States). The floor toilet, or squatty potty as it’s affectionately referred to, is nothing more than a hole in the ground (not for Bilbo Baggins either). Although people tell me evacuating your bowels in this position is healthier, many of my western comrades will agree with me that having to balance yourself on your feet while sticking your rump into a hole isn’t anywhere near as comfortable.
The icing on the cake, however, is that once you’ve finished and you want to wipe chances are (unless you’ve come prepared with your on personal stash), you won’t find any toilet paper. Bathrooms across Asia are known to be ill-equipped with this defecation necessity. And you’ll be lucky if there’s soap as well (restaurants typically have soap in the kitchens for employees to wash their hands).
Here’s how you do it (step-by-step):
- Upon first entering the stall (with or without a door), you’ll notice a small faucet and bucket. This is to pour a bit of water into the porcelain basin which helps eliminate friction so your waste materials slide down into the hole (9 times out of 10 these toilets do not flush).
- Pull down your pants, taking great care so that you don’t lose your wallet or cell phone and your clothes do not come into contact with the floor or get in the way of what’s about to come out of you. In the case of men, you may need to ‘aim’ your little friend down so that you don’t spurt all over the back of your jeans or shorts like a fire hose.
- Squat (the hard part) with your heels flat on the ground. Typically, we’re used to squatting on the balls of our feet. Not so with the squatty potty. The toilets have specific places to put your feet, but you must make sure to keep your heels firmly planted beneath your weight. This will provide additional stability. The direction you face is based on how the toilet was installed (your goal is to ‘plop’ your stuff directly into the hole provided and not in the porcelain basin if you can help it).
- Ready, Set, Go!
- Wipe yourself (with the toilet paper you brought) and do not put the dirty paper into the toilet. There will be some type of trash can in the corner and if there isn’t, simply leave it somewhere on the floor – yes, yes I know, but you’re not in Kansas anymore. This is third world people!
My experience, I have to say, was quite interesting. Luckily, I didn’t make any rookie mistakes like peeing on my pants or getting poo on my shoes. I can tell you that it’s difficult to remain squatting for very long so for you newspaper readers or crossword aficionados, squatty potties won’t be your cup of tea. I suppose Asians in general don’t choose to spend a lot of time in bathroom stalls (some of which don’t even have doors).
So what do you do when you can’t find a western toilet and can’t make it long enough to get to a squatty potty (or haven’t read this blog yet and don’t know how to use one)? Simple: You poop in the park. Yes, that actually happened on a walk from a store to our apartment. It was hysterical and I wish I had a picture. Alas the moment was captured in my memory and that’s where it will remain.
Until Next Time…