Obligatory toilet post

If you get enough travelers together in one location, a few inevitable topics of conversation inevitably come up. The usually revolve around a few basic subjects:

  • I almost died doing this stupid thing
  • I can’t believe how cheap the beer was in this location (there was one bar in Sihanoukville on the beach that had draught beer for $0.25 a glass – that night ended painfully)
  • I got ripped off doing this
  • I pooped where? There? Really?


Fortunately, I have not taken any photos of any epic poops on my travels. That would be really unnecessary and would attract a different kind of reader than I was going for. (Although if you are that kind of reader – hello! Welcome!)

There was one toilet somewhere in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam that was essentially a shower with a hole in the floor. That was a painful moment, and I will spare the details involved. But there were some other treasures out there. There was a sand dune in the Sahara, when I refused to part with $2 to use the filthy facilities inside a gas station. There was a McDonalds toilet in Athens with no door. There was the Vatican museum – which lacked a toilet seat.

Here are a few gems from a recent trip to Asia.

Toilet in Angkor Wat

Most toilets in Cambodia are the Turkish-style squat toilets, like so:

except in places catering to western tourists. Where western toilets are available, the tend to have a bucket of water to dump down the toilet to flush it if modern plumbing isn’t quite what it is in the west. If toilet paper is available, it is absolutely not to be flushed down the toilet, as it will clog the delicate plumbing. And most toilets also come equipped with the bum gun, which for the uninitiated can be rather confusing.

The bum gun

I tried my luck with the bum gun in Asia, but I ended up having to change into clean pants afterward. Spray water jet on nether regions? Check. Have a clean bum? Check. Pull pants back up? Check. Realize bum is still wet and get pants all wet? Oh… check. I really couldn’t figure out the bum gun in conjunction with the squat toilet. I tried. I really did. I slid into a soaking wet stall in a truck stop in Cambodia – the “Unhappy loo”, as Kakada called it. (Kakada was a tour facilitator, and truly awesome.) Confused about my clothing situation, I pulled my pants completely off and tied them around my neck so they wouldn’t drag on the filthy floor. I braced myself on the walls of the stall, knowing I’d be squatting for a few minutes. Bum gun? Check. Got dressed again? Check? Realized my feet were soaking wet from my own pee? Oh check… check… check…

Tokyo Narita toilet

So after all of the truck stop toilets of Asia, one can imagine how happy I was to see those instructions in Tokyo. And the toilet was even better.

Narita toilet 2

One button or lever just wasn't enough

But that’s enough about toilets for today. I’ve got more to say – I haven’t even touched on the two-button toilets so common in Europe and the Middle East, or the phenomenon of carrying your own T.P. with you. I promise, next time I won’t ramble on about pooping – or will I?

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