July 19

Toilets from around the world

Most of us prefer not to talk about toilets. After all, isn’t this what you do in private? Away from the casual dinner conversations with friends and family, or from the story swapping with other travellers you’ve met along the way.

What I’ve noticed though, is that even if sometimes you don’t talk about it, that doesn’t mean you’re not curious about it, or even more, that you aren’t looking for information on it. So I thought I would share some of the different toilets I’ve been to, and how they’re to be used. It may not be the most Glamourous of topics, but it’s still important all the same.

European/ Western toilets

Malaysia toilet(Western toilets; not as instinctual as you thought)

Now these are your eponymous porcelain gods. To use, all you have to do is head on over and sit on them. After which, look around either behind the seat cover or on the wall, or even in some instances a pedal on the floor somewhere (these are common on Dutch trains btw) to press down.  It should easily flush away. For my fellow Asians who may be seeing a western toilet for the first time, please don’t stand on the seats and squat over the opening. Ho ho, you may laugh about it, but it does happen far too common. If you see something like this though, don’t blame their ‘ignorance’. Instead, try to understand that for some of them, they really have no idea how this is supposed to work.

The infamous squat toilets

IMG_2746(No flush lever?! don’t panic! read on on how to keep it clean)

Don’t be too quick to laugh at someone who doesn’t know how to use a western toilet, since they may be laughing at you soon after when they see you encounter your first squat toilet. This comes in a range of ‘styles’ and can be found still all over Asia (maybe because it’s cheaper).  Some are on raised platforms, some are really just a hole in the ground. Usually there are foot holds on either side of the ‘hole’ itself. You can choose to face either way (well, I would prefer to face the door since sometimes you never know when someone does actually push open the door on you).

Now here’s the tricky part. There are different ways to ‘flush’ these kinds of toilets depending on which part of the country they are in. You could find some which do actually have a pedal or a button or a lever. But you may also come across ones that have none of that, and just a small bucket of water next to you. What you would need to do is to actually throw/ splash buckets of water into the hole until all the waste gets sucked/ drained away. Don’t ask me the mechanics of this because all I know is that it works, I just have no idea how.

Also to keep in mind with some of the toilets in Asia. People may not typically use toilet paper here. Instead you will find individual water hoses in each cubicle (even in Western style toilets). The purpose? To clean yourself…. Or to splash water around and create a diversion around the sounds you may be making. Sorry, I’m sure you didn’t expect me to go that far, but you do have to cover some of these things. Also when you use the sink, you may not find soap. Again, water alone seems to take care of the whole cleansing bit.

The sound friendly Korean toilets

P4037779(Please ring your courtesy bell)

Called so since I only found this whilst I was in Korea. Think of a typical western toilet with one exception. On the stall wall is a button that may look like a speaker or doorbell button. Press it and you will hear the continuous swoosh of water or the sounds of a flush. Know what they’re used for? Yes, yet again to camouflage whatever may be going on in there.

The ultra high tech Japanese toilets

IMG_2017(This isnt ultra ultra high-tech, but high-tech enough! as seen in Singapore)

Now this is the amazing crazy toilets you may have heard about. They look like a western toilet with the exception of that insane menu task bar on the side. The buttons are all probably written in Japanese and make no sense. Neither do the graphics. One of it may even look like boobs with water squirting out of the middle (its not, its actually a bidet for you bum). Well, since you’re in there alone, you might as well enjoy all the buttons and find out for yourself what they’re all there for. But be prepared for some surprises like when a wand seems to protrude from inside the bowl (its not an anal prod, really).

Now the super amazing thing about these? They usually have warm seats! Even in the winter! And some may even lift its cover automatically as you walk in front of it, and bring its cover down automatically after you’ve flushed!

So those were my amazing toilet adventures. Have any more? Drop a note below!