Everyday as I go about the different activities, teaching, surprises, new tastes, wonders of Thailand I keep narrating it all in my head, for my blog….. how I will be sharing with all of you what I am experiencing…then night falls, Marcia is super tired and all those wonderful stories have been erased from my brain. Tricky fellow this brain of mine.
Anyway, today I am going to tell you about: TOILETS & TOILET PAPER!
Hahahaha….you are probably wondering why on earth is she going to write about toilets and toilet paper….I know but just bare with me.
Here is a picture of the ‘toilet’, word use among thais to refer to ‘restroom’. Many of them include the shower right beside it. The sink is usually outside.
These are two of the types of restrooms found around this area. Usually restrooms…ok, toilets, are squatting structures. The type of toilets we know are called ‘western’ toilets and are now found in many new buildings, restaurants, etc. but in most places squatting toilets are the norm.
When I first got here I thought this was awful. Where was the toilet paper? How do I flush this thing? Here is the trick, there is a basin filled with water and a water valve just above it. One ‘flushes’ the toilet by dumping several buckets of water in! The basin is refilled as needed. Now, about the paper, Thais DO NOT use it as a customary item in the toilet. They use water to rinse! This means they wash their butts every time they go. My first impression of this was not a nice one….how????? But now I got it! and every morning you would see me walking to the ‘toilet’ half asleep with a towel hanging on my shoulder. Now, like I mention in my previous entry, I have made the switch from toilet paper to rinsing. It is so much cleaner and easier. They use toilet paper but is mainly to dry off afterwards.
The toilets might ‘look’ dirty, but it is mainly dust, dirt, and spider webs because the rinsing takes away the dirty papers on the basket, the nasty smells, flies, or other ugly things usually found in western public toilets. Except men toilets, they smell terrible…one would think that having had an ‘extension’ all their lives they would have a better aiming ability but that is just a mere illusion. Lol. Anyway, the other day I went to the market and ‘needed to go’. Getting back to the Wat was not an option so I looked for a public toilet. To my surprise there were plastic slip ons to remove your shoes and use them instead. The toilets were sparkling clean! And must of them were ‘squatting’ ones. Due to my neuropathy slip ons are not friendly shoes so I asked the lady if I could walk in with my sandals and she said: ‘mai ben rai’ ; which means it’s alright, and she mimic that she would mop afterwards. How nice was that?
I think squatting is a much healthier way to go, if you ask me. Maybe one day my legs will allow me to squat again. Right now it is a challenge when the only ‘toilets’ available are squatting ones…..glad to have a seat cane!
In the beginning I wondered why there were plastic slip ons at the entrance of any bathroom in the house or office. Well, now I understand. Thais remove their shoes whenever entering a room, house, some stores and some offices, therefore, when they want to use the toilet, usually the floor is wet, so they use those slippers to avoid going in barefoot.
Now, about the toilet paper. I find it amusing to see toilet paper on dinner tables and coffee shops. People use it as ‘napkins’. The other day I went to a coffee shop and order an iced coffee, I was wide-eyed when I saw the lady using toilet paper to wrap it around the cup and making a little deco twist with it and handed it to me. As a western as soon as I see toilet paper I associate it with restrooms, and a shock happens every time I see it on the table….lol. But the other day, I saw myself getting up from the table and reaching for the toilet paper to give some ‘napkin’ to my roommate! I guess there is another change of view going on. After all, isn’t every thing we think ONLY a point of view?