Pooing in Asia – A Chastening Experience

Ok, lets be clear at the start. This post is not about squat toilets. I’ve only come across one so far, at Hoan Kiem Lake, and thankfully i only needed a slash (although the attendant did try to charge me 10,000 dong for using it instead of 1000, my only rip-off attempt so far). I’m sure once i get out in the sticks, squat toilets are going to be a much more regular thing, and i’m not really looking forward to that, but for now its all good.

Equally, this post is not about diarrhoea. Despite being told repeatedly that i could expect a bout pretty much as soon as i arrived while my stomach adjusted, and my paranoia in taking almost more medication than i could carry, i haven’t had a single problem poo yet (which i’m sure you’ll be delighted to hear). I even stuffed my face before i left in preparation for the expected weight loss, so now i’m just a bit fat. Bugger.

No, this post is about toilet paper. For a week or so after i got here, i happily pooed away without a second thought. But when i got to the hostel, there was a sign saying please dont put toilet paper down the toilet, as it gets easily blocked. I asked some of the people in the hostel about and they seemed surprised i didnt know. “Oh, you never put toilet paper down the toilet in the developing world!” they said. Well no-one told me. I did wonder why every toilet had a little bin next to it, but i wasnt going to investigate the contents and assumed it was for tampons.

Now i have no problem with this intellectually. If they want me to put my pooey toilet paper in a little bin which some poor bugger has to empty, fine. Yet another of the cultural delights of Vietnam. But i’ve had 30 years of wiping my arse and dropping the paper into the toilet. I do it automatically. It takes a level of concentration i wouldn’t have thought possible to do otherwise.

So for the last week and a half, every time i go to the toilet, i wipe myself, stand up to flush, and swear. And then spend the next 5 minutes fishing pooey, usually soggy toilet paper out of the bowl, and putting it in the bin. Really not a highlight of my trip if i’m honest.


~ by zendog888 on 11/11/2010.

One Response to “Pooing in Asia – A Chastening Experience”

  1. chastening undeed, it was the same in Egypt apart from in the Thomas cook hotel. Its difficult I know cos you was brought up tidy!!

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