Please note: You can just go to the bottom of the post to get the pointers for using public restrooms in Thailand but the story is much more fun and entertaining.
I don’t generally have an itinerary when I travel. I tend to like to have events and sights/sites unfold and happen organically. With that said, there are 2 things I like to try and get to know about ahead of time when traveling and those are; how to use public transportation and what are the conditions and accessibility of the public restrooms in any country or even a large city I’m unfamiliar with.
My foray into Thailand public restrooms was interesting.
This is my first encounter with a public restroom in Thailand.
Ms Laura and I were on a Minibus tour and we had made a stop to refuel the bus which gave us an opportunity to use the bathrooms. We went to the restroom area and Ms Laura looked at it and just said ‘Nope’ and walked away, but me being an adventurer and a camper/backpacker kind of gal that as an adult, has squatted in the woods many times to do her business, thought
“How bad could it be?”
Besides I had to go and there was no waiting.
Although nicely appointed, the toilet left me a little bewildered for a moment or two. I had to decide if I straddle the thing or stand on top of it. I decided to stand on top.
Then I had to decide which way to face. I was wondering why there was a great heron and flowers in the toilet? Was it to look at when doing your business? Should I face away from the door and look at the nice stuff that makes you feel like you are communing with nature and is natural thing to do? Ultimately, I decided to face the door so if anyone walked in on me while I was doing my business they can see that shocked surprise on my face, although honestly my thoughts were on that great big heron staring at my ass while I was doing my business.
Due to the toilet’s design, you almost have to strip down completely to use this type of toilet and it made me rethink my position on wearing thongs as underwear but that is another story for another day. Wearing skirts might help a little, although I had a maxi skirt on and had to practically put it over my head to make sure I wasn’t getting anything undesirable on my clothes. It was a bit of a chore.
Luckily I noticed ahead of time that there is no toilet paper (There is no toilet paper in any public toilet in Thailand unless the bathroom was in a hotel). There was a power washer kind of bidet thing there but decided to pass on that as there was no telling what was in that water and I really did not want to get some wierd infection down there. So I brought out my trusty little roll of Toilet paper that Ms Laura found at Bed Bath and Beyond. THANK YOU MS LAURA!
Please note: Do not put paper down this kind of toilet. All paper products go into the waste paper basket.
I was ready to actually do my business at this point, I somehow managed to squat and hit the target without getting myself or my clothes all wet but more importantly I managed to balance myself on top of the toilet without falling off. That could have been bad. Thanks Gabby for the yoga balance training!
When I finished my business, I realized that there is no flush lever or button. What they provide is a big container with water that has either a pot or a bowl in it. Here I thought that the big container was a lovely Koi pond. You put your hand in the water to grab the bowl or the pot in what you hope is clean water but I’m pretty sure it’s full of stuff that would make a westerner very very sick and scoop the water up and put it in the toilet. You do this a couple of times which then pushes the waste down. I have no idea how it works but it just does.
I came out of that bathroom keen to wash my hands, I go to the outside washstand and there are spigots for water but no soap or hand towels or blowers to dry your hands, nothing. I then noticed that the Thai people do not wash their hands after using the public bathrooms. So I pulled out my trusty pack of antibactercial wipes (that I luckily bought as a last minute impulse buy at the airport) and wiped my hands down.
Feeling proud that I tackled the public restrooms in Thailand and I knew I’d be ok.
Incidentally, those toilets come in a wide range of beautiful colors.
Pointers for using public restrooms in Thailand
1. For several weeks prior to going to Thailand practice tree pose everyday.
2. Practice squatting while in tree pose everyday.
2. Bring packs of tissue or the handy dandy little toilet paper rolls which incidentally lasted with 2 people using them for 8 days and had plenty of left overs when we got back to the US.
3. Bring antibacterial wipes for hands.