Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Let's Talk Toilets

I’ve seen a lot of strange toilets in my time.

In Europe, especially France, the locals like to play a fun game called “Hide the Handle,” which is also known as “Find the Flusher.” Actually, I just made up those two games. But both titles perfectly describe many trips I took to the loo. Most of the time, the button is located conveniently on top of the toilet tank. Sometimes you push it in; sometimes you pull it out. Just for fun, however, the French occasionally like to put the handle somewhere no one can find it, such as… the floor for example. Behind the toilet perhaps. One time, I spent ten minutes searching for the flush only to give up theatrically, open the bathroom door and hear the flushing behind me.

Japan has possibly the most intricate toilets. My first time with a Japanese toilet was in the Narita airport. I completed what I went in there to do, then spent another five minutes pressing various buttons located on a panel right by my leg. Not only could that toilet flush, it could also spray you in strategic places (at different strengths, mind you), play music and even make a fake flushing sound for some reason.

Neither of our first two hotel rooms had this complex piece of technology, though our second toilet did turn the sink on when you flushed it. I didn’t use that water much; I was a bit suspicious as to where it came from. But our third hotel did boast a toilet that would do everything but light your cigarette for you, as my father used to say.

China, by far, has had the most annoying toilets. Our hotel room toilet was just fine, but roughly every other toilet in the city was what is known as a “trench toilet” or a “squatty potty.” Not super fun for girls to use, especially if you are going to be down there for any length of time. Try using a squatty potty while wearing high heels at a nightclub. Interesting… Also, the Chinese people had seemingly never heard of toilet paper. So I got to carry around loads of tissues in my purse at all times.

Now Jordan has a mix. Most are European-style toilets with fairly easy-to-find flushers (push or pull!). I have seen (and used once) a couple squatty potties, but for the most part I think I left them behind in Asia. Now what I have NOT seen is toilet paper. This wouldn’t be that surprising except that everyone puts tissues EVERYWHERE. Taxi drivers put tissue boxes in taxis. They sit unobtrusively in the corner of every dinner table. But no one thinks to supply wipers for the other end of your body.

The other fun toilet experience I’ve had in Jordan was out in the desert. Now I’m sure everyone who’s gone camping can relate to this. I went to a get-together in Wadi Musa. It was basically a dance floor set up in the middle of the desert. And the bathroom? Wander away from the campsite for a minute, pick a spot and pop a squat. Funny. They didn’t supply toilet paper there either.

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