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Flush in Finland. Bin in Benin.
December 20, 2010 4:14 AM   Subscribe

Various international toilet rules: Where do I put the paper?
posted by twoleftfeet (44 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks. Now I don't ever want to leave Australia.
posted by Jimbob at 4:30 AM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Me too, Jimbob. I had no idea that most the planet doesn't use/flush paper like we do.

Is this where I fall to my knees, yet again, thanking my deity of choice that I was born here?
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:35 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Still no word on how to use the three seashells.
posted by davelog at 4:39 AM on December 20, 2010 [21 favorites]


It doesn't matter where you put it when you're done with it, as long as you hang it with the end hanging down over the front of the roll.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:39 AM on December 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


This is why I always just stick it in my pocket to avoid any hassle.
posted by orme at 4:44 AM on December 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Time to restart the front-wipe vs back-wipe debates?
posted by X-Himy at 4:50 AM on December 20, 2010


I was pretty shocked to discover this when visiting my wife's family in Brazil. I was never comfortable with the practice.
I'll admit, I sometimes waited until we went out to a place where I could use a public toilet where I wouldn't care about the consequences, and flushed the paper anyway.

I'm just glad that when my mother-in-law stayed with us in the US, she "got the memo".
posted by jozxyqk at 4:54 AM on December 20, 2010


A dozen years ago, I went to southern China. I'd never really traveled much before, and certainly never to anyplace where the culture was so different from my own. I talked to Chinese natives about how to "prepare" for the experience, and finally sucked it up & called the travel editor of the local newspaper. He spent about 20 minutes talking to me about his travels to Asian countries, and almost as an afterthought said, "Take some of those little packs of tissue paper; those will come in handy." He never, though, explained *why* they'd come in handy, nor did anyone I talked to mention the wonders of the Chinese toilet*.

I think the first time I saw one of the toilets, I stared at it for a few minutes before snapping myself out of it and figuring 'when in rome ... .' Then I looked around for the toilet paper. And looked. And looked. That was the "Ah-ha!" moment when I figured out why those little packs of Kleenex were so important. Of course, I didn't have one of those little packs of Kleenex with me at that particular moment, but I had one in the back pocket of my jeans from that point forward. It took me a while to get the hang of disposal techniques, too, but that was pretty straightforward after a day or so.

So, yeah ... traveling to different culture can be like potty training for grown-ups.

*thanks bwg!
posted by msconduct at 5:01 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The real question is: what do you do when the roll's empty?
posted by londonmark at 5:02 AM on December 20, 2010


oh, and pope guilty: that is just, wrong.
posted by msconduct at 5:03 AM on December 20, 2010


This Indonesian toilet has helpful instructions.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:04 AM on December 20, 2010


A squat toilet is the power user choice of plumbing facilities: it requires some familiarization and may look terrifying at first, but is actually superior to the seat type - ergonomic user position, no surface contact, no seat up/down hassle and easier to clean. The only real problem is that you have to remember to take stuff out of your back pocket before you use one ( or keep your pockets buttoned ) .
posted by Dr Dracator at 5:17 AM on December 20, 2010


Don't even talk to me about toilets; I've suffered some serious nightmares with them in Hong Kong (nothing to do with squat toilets though, msconduct; I'm not gonna self-link, but anyone wanting a laugh at my expense can read about in Tales of the BWG [Toilet Trauma]).

As for where to put the paper, I must say that many Hong Kong washrooms now offer paper in the stalls, with lots of renovations and upgrades to public facilities all over the city. This is a hangover from SARS, which forced people to accept the need for better hygiene wherever possible.

But you should still bring those packs of tissue, just in case.
posted by bwg at 5:38 AM on December 20, 2010


A squat toilet is the power user choice of plumbing facilities: it requires some familiarization and may look terrifying at first, but is actually superior to the seat type - ergonomic user position, no surface contact, no seat up/down hassle and easier to clean. The only real problem is that you have to remember to take stuff out of your back pocket before you use one ( or keep your pockets buttoned ) .

Trying to get someone to convert, though, is like going around the office offering free Dvorak keyboards. People like what they are familiar with, and can be extremely stubborn about changing.
posted by Forktine at 5:41 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dr Dracator: "A squat toilet is the power user choice of plumbing facilities: it requires some familiarization and may look terrifying at first, but is actually superior to the seat type - ergonomic user position, no surface contact, no seat up/down hassle and easier to clean."

Except when one is suffering from explosive diarrhea.
posted by bwg at 5:47 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks. Now I don't ever want to leave Australia.

Is this where I fall to my knees, yet again, thanking my deity of choice that I was born here?


Don't you have Bog Roll Scorpions and Screaming Bowl Frogs in your bits of Australia, then?

Shit's getting bad enough around here that I'm going on the front lawn while saving up for a ticket to somewhere safe.
posted by Ahab at 5:51 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I found it amusing that this is blocked at work for "Potentially Damaging Content".
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:14 AM on December 20, 2010


Tissue roll position: perched high on top of the towel rack.

Reason: Cat figured out how fun it is to unroll it all.

Once a year, on her birthday, I put the roll on the spindle thingy and let her have at it.
posted by sidereal at 6:16 AM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


oh, and pope guilty: that is just, wrong.

I am willing to die on this hill.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:28 AM on December 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yeah, this site tagline should be "Cancel 80% of your Bucket List travel plans now".
posted by Rock Steady at 6:29 AM on December 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Holy s**t. Never gave this much thought, but then, I don't travel much. At all. And probably won't be, considering some of these warnings.

Great post... gave me one more reason to feel better about where I live (and right now, with the record snows we've endured lately, that's a very good thing).
posted by kinnakeet at 6:37 AM on December 20, 2010


If you're thinking of never visiting a country simply because you don't want to consider the possibility of putting your shitty paper in a bin, then realistically you were probably never going to go there in the first place. Not a bad thing, just is what it is.
posted by jontyjago at 6:49 AM on December 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well this is just wrong, and a bit shocking. I've lived in the Caribbean all my life, and while there are people who don't have toilets, and there are issues with water availability, the idea that these are overwhelmingly "binning countries", "except in the poshest of hotels" or whatever, is ridiculous. I've never once encountered a toilet in Trinidad that wasn't designed to flush everything down - not in anyone's house and certainly not in any kind of public place. Even people who might be forced by circumstances (eg. no water) to throw paper in the bin at home, occasionally or all the time, don't consider it the done thing.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 6:56 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is officially not one of the topics we covered in Russian class. Wow.
posted by SMPA at 6:59 AM on December 20, 2010


MetaFilter: Bung up the bog somewhere posh.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:11 AM on December 20, 2010


Well this is just wrong, and a bit shocking.

Yeah, I checked it for the countries I've been to, and it was pretty hit or miss.
posted by Forktine at 7:21 AM on December 20, 2010


Of course, the real question isn't whether you go squatting, sitting, or even as to what you do with the paper when you're done. The really important question is, do you wipe standing up or sitting down?

(You evil, evil sitters.)
posted by menschlich at 7:34 AM on December 20, 2010


I did recall a squat toilet in France, but we were in the rural countryside at a rest area type place. I didn't think it was common. And people are terrified of India's toilet situation. Go figure.

When I went to school in London, I recall there not being any toilet seats in the ladies' room of the public restroom in the library. I can't remember anymore if this is something I am imagining.There were toilet seats in my flat. I can't remember if there were or weren't any in public restrooms anymore.
posted by anniecat at 7:59 AM on December 20, 2010


I've had, uh, extensive experience with squat toilets in Indonesia. I've learned to pretend that the foot grips are in fact lunar footprints and that I am an astronaut.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:04 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that a site that specializes in toilet paper usage mentions the German FlachspĆ¼ler shelf toilets (which seem to be on their way out, thus saving future generations from having to explain them over and over again) but doesn't give the best tp related tip when using one: put down two strips of two or three squares each before doing a number 2 to create a little "raft" - this way you can flush and leave no stains or streaks.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 8:25 AM on December 20, 2010


I did recall a squat toilet in France, but we were in the rural countryside at a rest area type place. I didn't think it was common.

There were squat toilets at quite a few of the bars I've been to in Paris. Always a good time for a pampered American, getting tipsy and then having to figure out how to pee without getting it all over your feet.
posted by padraigin at 8:27 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


> put down two strips of two or three squares each before doing a number 2 to create a little "raft"

Instead of "raft" let's call it a "poophylactic".
posted by Burhanistan at 8:36 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I guess you'll have to trust me that this is where I say it is, but here is a picture of a squat toilet in a bar in Paris. After a few Armagnacs, I stopped worrying so much about whether my shoes got pee on them. Fucking inhibitions, how do they work?
posted by padraigin at 9:35 AM on December 20, 2010


Various international toilet rules

Yes, it does.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:59 AM on December 20, 2010


Did you know that all toilet paper in New Zealand is technically still the property of the government? And that it is often considered fashionable to buy paper that is patterned so that it matches the decoration in the bathroom? Almost seems a shame to flush it really, which is the accepted method of disposal in most toilets.

1. What?
2. What? Fashionable? It's just you grab the brand that's in your price/quality equilibrium.
2. What? It's not patterned overseas?
3. What? You'd rather keep it?
posted by doublehappy at 10:21 AM on December 20, 2010


*removes Indonesia and China from itinerary, wonders about Europe, decides to stay home*
posted by Cranberry at 10:54 AM on December 20, 2010


What impresses me about this site is that the author has found an entertaining way of saying the exact same thing over a hundred times.
posted by randomination at 11:08 AM on December 20, 2010


my first squatter was in a bar in Paris. my friends found it very amusing to see my response to that surprise after I'd been drinking delicious Belgian beer for a while...

but seriously, I'm surprised how many people here would choose not to travel rather than face the terrors of strange potties. Mind you, places with open pit latrines and rampant disease and zero water treatment or sewage facilities are one thing, but you can get used to the squat and rinse method pretty easily and places like Thailand are sooooo worth visiting. for myself after 2 weeks I found I preferred it :)
posted by supermedusa at 11:49 AM on December 20, 2010


I wish I'd read this before I went to Tunisia; it took me a full week to figure out what the hose attached to the toilet was for.
posted by something something at 11:56 AM on December 20, 2010


In Canada the paper goes in the toilet. Unless you're a bear, everyone knows where bears go. Not that they use paper of course, they use rabbits, soft and absorbent fur you see.

Oh, Canada!
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:44 PM on December 20, 2010


> Not that they use paper of course, they use rabbits, soft and absorbent fur you see.

They should cite that shit.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:57 PM on December 20, 2010


A squat toilet is the power user choice of plumbing facilities: it requires some familiarization and may look terrifying at first, but is actually superior to the seat type - ergonomic user position, no surface contact, no seat up/down hassle and easier to clean. The only real problem is that you have to remember to take stuff out of your back pocket before you use one ( or keep your pockets buttoned ) .

What do you do about your wet bottom after the dousing?
posted by Catfry at 1:50 PM on December 20, 2010


A bear and a rabbit meet in the woods. The bear says, "Hey rabbit, I have a problem. Do you ever get shit stuck to your fur?" The rabbit says no, he doesn't. A few minutes later, he regretted it.
posted by wayland at 3:35 PM on December 20, 2010


I've discovered that, with my back gone bad, I am completely unable to eliminate in a squat. I clearly remember doing so in the past, on camping trips and so on, but the plumbing just doesn't work that way anymore. This worries me from time to time.

The idea of only having access to squat toilets is really quite terrifying.
posted by galadriel at 8:04 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


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