Thursday, 19 November 2009

Thai Cultural Lessons #6 [Toilets]

Anyone who’s known me for a while might know of my slightly odd fascination with toilets. You may or may not know that I have a folder of photos on my computer (and indeed facebook) entitled ‘toilets’, mainly collected during my time doing Relay in Cardiff. Each one has a story!

Well, it turns out that Thailand also has toilets, with some added fun extra bits! So I thought I would tell you about them!

First there is the implement called the ‘bum-spray’. Traditionally Thai people use this to wash themselves after using the toilet and then use toilet paper to dry themselves. The toilet paper then goes in the bin, not the toilet, to avoid blockage. This routine is an all round much more hygienic option! (Note: the toilet paper can also be missed out all together – a wetter, but quicker option!)
Here is a picture of my very own ‘bum-spray’ in my bathroom:

Now, I decided a long time ago to full on go for the bum-spray option, leaving the days of toilet paper behind. I was happy with this arrangement until the day I broke my first bum-spray. In the year I have lived in this house I have broken 2 bum-sprays and the one in the picture is on its way out after I dropped it on the floor recently. It now drips continually. After so many breakage incidents I have learned to keep a spare one, that’s what this is, soon to be ‘bum-spray the 4th’! (Note how they call it a 'hand-spray' - this is more polite, but less accurate than my name for it!)

Actually, my kind housemate, knowing my tendency to break bum-sprays, bought me this one as a gift before going away, incase it exploded when she was away.

In my defence, they are easy to break. The way they work is this: there is always water being pumped into them through the pipe. When you press the handle the water is released as a jet. So if the plastic wears out or breaks then water basically explodes out of it everywhere and the whole thing needs to be replaced! Quite dramatic!

The second cool toilet related thing I want to share is this special happy toilet powder:

Unfortunately, despite my best attempts to avoid blockages by not using toilet paper, my toilet blocked the other day. No other toilet in the building blocked (we have 7!). So I figured the problem was my toilet and tried the special powder.

Despite its cool (and very cute) pictures of before and after toilets, it didn’t work. I will spare you from the details of how this meant I ended up having to put my hand into the toilet. Which turned out to be the start of a pattern – since I had to reach in there again yesterday to rescue my phone.

Anyway, the toilet problem was solved by getting some men to come and empty our sceptic tank, which was apparently full. This was not nearly as exciting or gross as I was expecting, so I will spare you the photos!

Incidentally, it is possible to have a theology of toilet use. Mike Reeves talks about how flushing things away can be a cause to celebrate God’s victory over false gods! ‘Shout a little Halleluiah on the loo!’ He exhorts.


Cathy said...

How wonderful!

Ormo said...

A lot of the toilets here have built in bum sprays (BIBS, my newfound acronym, thank you!)
You can control the BiBS from a little control panel beside the loo, a lot of them have heated water, directional controls, power controls, some even have a soothing massage motion...

I too think that BS and BiBS are the way are the forward, alas my toilet doesn't have one... It's the old fashioned paper for me...

One warning for anyone visiting the land of the rising sun and fancies trying the BiBS for themselves, be sure check the power setting the last person used to avoid an unexpected surprise!