Potty mouth

A trip to the ladies’ room here is never as mundane as a trip to the ladies’ room back home.

Firstly, like in many countries outside of California, they don’t flush their toilet paper here. Instead, there is a small bin situated in the corner of the room or stall filled with the toilet paper of those who have gone before you. And this is the case in public and private restrooms.

A funny aside: in my school’s ladies’ rooms, the metallic appliqué with the “dispose of your feminine hygiene napkins behind this slot” image is simply that—an appliqué. It’s attached right to the wall and cannot be pushed! So everything goes into the bin with the toilet paper.

Secondly, Asian women are trained in the art of the squat pot. That is, when opening the door of a public restroom stall, instead of finding a Western-style toilet with its fancy seat, you will find a porcelain trench with a foot pedal nearby. These trenches are elevated one step so that your bare backside isn’t on display for women looking under the doors for empty stalls. One end has a hood, which I’ve decided is the end you face, and then, well then you squat. I would think that this would be second nature to Asian women who have grown up with this, that there would be no difficulties with aim or splatter, but judging from the wet floor around most of the stalls I’ve been in (and these are otherwise very up-scale stalls), that is not the case.

Similar to the proportion of urinals to toilets in a men’s restroom, there is always at least one toilet in every restroom—labeled “disabled toilet” on the door because “#2 toilet” just doesn’t look as professional. I have a sneaky suspicion that the women here prefer squatting to sitting even in these stalls, as I have entered a great number of “disabled toilet” stalls to find the seat lifted, and nary a cleaning person in sight.


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