Dingy back alley toilets are just one of the many things that accompany a more adventurous trip to Asia.
But if you’re a spendthrift backpacker and you’re engaging in some authentic, down-in-the-dirt Asian travel, you’re going to encounter the drop toilet at some point.
And it’s going to be your only option.
Oh yes, the possibility of it can strike fear into many a traveller’s heart.
And I get it. Some of those toilets are squalid affairs with hairy spider carcases hanging off the walls and a few unsavoury smears over the tiles (if you’re lucky enough to get tiles!).
But here’s the thing. Ever since my first epic Southeast Asian trip in 2013, I’ve thrived in the squat toilet environment. I relish it! Maybe not the squalid hole-in-the-ground toilets, but sanitised squat toilets? I’d choose it over the Royal Throne any day.
So just what is it that’s converted me to squatting? Here are some solid truths about why squat toilets are actually a far better way of doing business…
1. They’re actually more sanitary
OK, again, I’m begging you to differentiate between the cesspool toilets you can come across in some middle-of-nowhere Laotian village and the sparkling squatters you’ll find in somewhere like Dubai Airport.
But by their very nature, you actually have no skin contact with a squat toilet. And that’s a big bonus. There are no drips on the seats and you’re not parking your bum where 20 other people that day have parked theirs.
Nope, a squat toilet doesn’t actually require you to interact with the porcelain in any way whatsoever.
2. You don’t really get splash back
There’s not so much water in the bowl, if any at all. And that means no little bursts of toilet water speckling your bum when you’re doing your business.
3. You get a proper, faster … evacuation
Since discovering squat toilets, I’ve rarely felt satisfied sitting like a prissy little lady when I’m in the middle of a number 2.
Fact is, when you squat, you’re actually in a much better position for your bowel to perform a full evac.
I mean, cavemen didn’t exactly erect stone thrones for themselves. Our bodies were designed to squat in the act of defecating. Without going into the details, our bowels are far better positioned to relieve themselves when we squat.
And consistent studies have shown that you’ll complete your business far quicker if you would only crouch down.
It all sounds like a bit of quackery but trust me, you’ll soon appreciate it if you find you’re a little clogged, or if you suffer from Crohn’s like I do. To be honest, I even find it more of a relief to squat if I’ve come down with the good ol’ travel gastro.
4. Say goodbye to awkward noises
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a little uncomfortable about everyone knowing exactly what kind of business I’m doing and when.
The genius of many squat toilets is that there really aren’t any noises. There’s less of a drop, see…
How to use a squat toilet
It may or may not surprise you to learn that I have actually advocated, passionately, for the squatting position to numerous friends.
And more than once, I’ve actually had to demonstrate how you’re meant to squat. So while squatting feels like a no brainer to me, I’ve included some step-by-step instructions to help you embrace the position!
If you’re lucky enough to have a porcelain squat toilet, there will be little foot grips either side of the urinal. Place your feet on them.
Your bum should be hovering over the larger, circular portion of the loo, with the thinner pee-catcher bit (sorry, I don’t know the official terminology!) in front of you. In Japan, it may be a little different.
Remove your pants. Not fully, as some Google images seem to suggest. But don’t pull them down to your ankles either.
They should sit just above your knees, so that when you squat, the crotch of your pants actually sits above your nether region.
Do your business, in whatever way you like. I’m not gonna help you with that! Pull your pants up afterwards and step away from the loo.
Depending on the fanciness of your squat toilet, it will come with either a bucket of water and a scoop or a flush. If it’s a bucket, you simply pour water down the hole to clean it up for the next person. I hope I don’t need to explain how a flush works…
There, not too hard right?
I feel like Asia is increasingly moving towards the porcelain throne we’ve fully embraced as “civilised” in the rest of the world. But actually, I sincerely hope that’s not the case.
Keep the squatters, Asia. I beg you!
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