*** now with bonus paragraph! ***Because I'm supposed to be writing a 20 page report on my works study assistance policy and preparing a speech on whitegoods and industrial relations, now is as good a time as any to post about my biggest cultural shock on our holiday. Toilets.
Please note, this may not be anything new to some of you, but keep in mind this was my first O/S trip (excluding the work visit to Hobart).
Basically, Thailand has four types of toilets:
Normal toilets - Stock standard, run of the mill loos with paper provided. However, we did notice that hotels in Thailand provided less toilet paper - no refill in the cupboard, and not necessarilly a full roll to start off with. Not so awesome in a country renowned for giving whities the squirts.
Hosey toilets - These can come with our without paper, the premise (we believe) that you hose yourself off instead of using paper. This caused me much confusion at the airport in Phuket when I couldn't see the flush toggle for the toilet lid and tried to hose the toilet to 'flush', which instead left the toilet too full of water to flush properly and a befuddled enny sneaking out towards to the baggage carousel.
Scoopy toilets - This is when the hose is considered a luxury and you are instead suprised with a tub of water and a smaller tub. The premise is that you then scoop water out of the big bucket and somehow 'sort yourself out'. I don't know how there aren't more people walking around with embarassing looking wet trouser strains.
Squatty toilets - I actually paid 2 baht to use one of these (as the guide indicated it was one of the cleaner ones we'd see during the day) until I realised that it was a squatty - having had no prior experience I wasn't about to give it a run for my money, knowing I would have to wear the same pair of pants all day. The Hun actually experienced one step below this when we went elephant riding as the loo there was in fact just a hole - the only time I ever thought I would hold an upset stomach for a three hour car trip, but I did it. DID I EVER!
Japan was a big happy change from Thailand in this regard.
The first toilet I encountered in Japan was in the airport and featured two types of spray (gentlemen spray and the slightly more thorough lady spray WITH temperature and power control), heatedtoilet seat (with different heat options), odor control (with different strengths) and a flushing noise (with volume control) to ease you into it. I've said it before and I'll say it again - heated seats are the shizzle (Adam - my dad said you can already buy Japanese loos here? I'm so there when I'm a homeowner!).
There were also squat toilets in Japan - though I'd say roughly 50/50 squat to western ratio, enough such that I could hold out until I found a western one (they were usually marked with a sign on the door). Again, it's not like I could practice at home to get my technique right, nor did I really want to sans pants in the Tokyo National Museum.
Another welcome change in Japanese bathrooms was the fact that there were lids on the ladybins. I'm not kidding. VERY GLAD FOR THAT.
I forgot - some of the toilets in Japan also have a faucet thing on top of the cistern - such that when you flush the toilet a stream of water comes out of the little tap and into the sink balancing on the top that then (presumably) goes into that tank bit to refill the toilet. I can't say I was all that comfortable washing my hands in toilet water...
Myeh - I guess it's not much of a post. But I guess I never realised how much we take our 'clean' toilets for granted (I can only imagine how D'Jen would cope walking into water soaked cubicle after water soaked cubicle courtesy of the host and bucket strategies).