Photo credit: Astronomy Picture of the Day
In the Philippines, we use a plastic dipper. With one hand, you tilt the dipper full of water towards your rear area to create a slow but steady stream while simultaneously swirling soap suds on that same area with the other hand. We, Filipinos, believe that’s the only sanitary way to do it.
But we’re all different.
Several years ago, a Filipino worker in Australia was sacked for his un-Australian toilet habits.
When I was working in China, I was aghast to find a bin full of used toilet papers inside a cubicle at the office. I may not be used to toilet papers, but I know very well that used ones are supposed to be flushed away with whatever you’re flushing away when you flush the toilet.
Good thing they had portable hand bidets. In a way, I have managed myself whenever I had a call from nature.
I’ve never seen enough discussions on the internet to address this issue so I, myself, create a similar topic at Reddit. The topic received several responses ranging from expressions of disgust to more reasonable explanations about plumbing.
Turns out that in some countries, the plumbing systems are not good enough to be capable of dislodging paper wastes. In such cases, used toilet papers had to go straight to the waste bins and flushing it away will clogged the pipes and cause more sanitation problems.
Still curious, I asked several travelers in a travel forum I frequent usually about their countries’ toilet practices, and their worst and best toilet experiences while trotting the rest of the world.
Here are some of the responses.
Ron Meker (Tel Aviv, Israel), The Fresh Meker
In Israel, we have great western toilets. Not using bidet, just toilet paper (2 or 3 layers) pretty high quality where ever you go. Great plumbing and sanitary services here.
Worst bathroom I ever saw was in Georgia (the country) in one of my trips there. Just a wooden shed, so small, like the old times in western movies. Lucky I had only number one.
Surprising toilets were the squat ones in Singapore. Such an advanced and western country, culture-wise, but they still have at least one squat toilets as one of the options in public restrooms.
Chortovka (Kansas City, USA)
My worst experience happened in France at a rest stop. A dirty, smelly hole in the ground.
The USA is modern but few (if any) houses have bidets. At least I never encountered one. I did have a bidet in the Spanish house. In South America, we couldn’t put toilet paper in the toilet. It had to go into a waste paper basket.
Kathryn O’Halloran (Melbourne, Australia), Globetrotting Romance Writer
In Australia, we just have standard flush toilets and toilet paper. Pretty much all the toilets here now have the small/big flush option because water consumption is a big deal. Back when drought conditions were bad, people who didn’t have that option sometimes put bricks in the toilet cistern so that you used less water with every flush.
To be honest, even though Japanese has the ultra modern toilets, some of the worst situations I’ve encountered have been there. Once you get off the tourist trail, where things tend to be all clean and nice, you see the other side of Japan. One of the grossest things is that Japanese girls use sanitary napkins and often don’t dispose of them well! I’ve also found that Japanese women (and also in Korea) often don’t wash their hands properly after using the toilet. Either they don’t wash at all or just stick their very fingertips under the water. I never used to worry about hand santiser or anything like that but now I always use it after going to the bathroom. I try not to touch the door knob with my hands either!
Another weird thing is that men’s public toilets often have no doors. Even if you are somewhere like a kids’ playground, you can see straight in and see dudes standing at the urinals. I guess you’re not actually seeing anything but it kind of icks me out knowing I can see them do their business.
One of the craziest bathroom stories I’ve got was while travelling around some of the smaller towns in Japan. For some reason I was determined to get the cheapest accommodation prices I could. I booked into a ‘business hotel’ in one town which was only a few bucks cheaper than a few other alternatives but had a shared bathroom. I just thought, yeah, whatever. Shared bathroom is fine. I got to the place and the owner asked me if I was sure I wanted to stay. I should’ve taken that as a sign! The place wasn’t really a business hotel but more like a flop house for old men. And the shared bathroom only had a squat toilet, no other option. I didn’t really see the old men. If they were around, they’d scurry back to their rooms as soon as I opened my door. But the bathroom was not in tiptoe condition by any means. And I’m not very strong at squatting. I had a stubborn determination to stay there and not move though. After the first night, I realised there was a park across the road from the hotel with a public toilet so I ended up just running over and using that for the whole time of my stay.
Dave Ingelson (Alberta, Canada), The Baldpacker
I recall a Gibbon experience in Lau where you slept overnight in treehouses 100 feet off the ground and had to piss straddling the shower grate which was made of 1/4″ wood. Ok, you didn’t have to straddle the grate, but you’d need cojones bigger than mine!
Normally you get the average toilet in the USA not worth mentioning, but I know that my friend’s family cabin in the woods in Maine had no plumbing, so you have an outhouse with zero light source and a hole you have to sit in. I was freaked out that some spider would jump up onto me although nothing happened. Now imagine if my friend or her family had the time of the month and have to handle that in the outhouse.