It’s a good job we’re all friends here because we’re about to get personal. When it comes to travel taboos, this topic always comes in at number one. It’s the question that everyone wants to know the answer to, despite being too embarrassed to ask.
Before you read on, heed this disclaimer: If talk of faeces or hearing about other people’s toilet experiences is likely to make you cringe, it might be best for you to stop reading and go to another article. Maybe it is time for a cup of tea, personally I’d recommend Moroccan mint!
Okay, if you’re sticking around let’s go back to the million dollar question…
How exactly do you use a squat toilet?!
Fret no more my friends, to save you all the embarrassment of having to have this discussion in person, I will take one for the team and reveal all of my squat toilet tips and mishaps.
Practice those squats!
If you are going to a country where squat toilets are in use, the first piece of advice that I can give you is to practice your squats at home. If you are familiar with any sort of intense exercise class, you are probably no stranger to the strain that squatting puts on your legs. Trust me when I say, you don’t want your legs to give out half way through using a squat toilet for a number two.
Don’t be surprised if your toilet has no door
This was, without doubt, my nastiest shock when it comes to toilet usage abroad. I was working at a state school in China and had unfortunately been struck down with a rather unpleasant case of diarrhoea. I rushed down to the toilets, desperate to evacuate my bowels before the start of class. When I skidded through the door to the toilets, I stopped in horror. Not only were the toilets communal for both staff and students but the room was full of what I can only describe as troughs, in tiny cement cubicles. The first blow was that the top of the cubicles were level with my hips and things only got worse when I noticed the lack of doors.
I can’t go in here.
As I stood there, cheeks clenched, I realised I had no choice. I squatted down and tried to complete the task as quickly as possible, all the while being fully aware that one of my students could walk in and see me in this awful predicament at any minute. Without doubt, this is the most disturbing toilet experience I have ever had and whilst I can’t promise it will never happen to you, I can offer some advice: Avoid McDonald’s delivery service.
What do I do with my clothes?
The first obstacle to overcome with squat toilets is to work out what you’re going to do with all of those inconvenient layers. Some people prefer to completely strip off to use squat toilets but this is highly impractical if you are out and about. If you are wearing shorts or trousers, pull them down to your ankles and yank them forward so they are out of the way of any direct stream. Dresses are a great choice if you know you’re going to be using squat toilets but I would still recommend tucking them out of the way before you get down to do your business.
Get into a deep squat and squeeze your knees together
With your feet firmly positioned on the steps, squat down so that your weight is on the back of your heels. Guys, you are lucky because you won’t have any trouble peeing in a squat toilet but for girls, it isn’t so easy! Ladies, make sure you keep your knees together as this will help with your aim. Wet leg is sadly an inevitable expectation from your first few attempts but with practice eventually comes perfection.
Hold your position!
This is the most important step when it comes to the squat toilet process. Make sure you can hold your balance and try to keep as still as possible whilst you do the deed. Be prepared for the shakes as your muscles strain to keep you in position. There is a reason Asian girls all have toned legs! If you are under the influence of alcohol, I would recommend using the walls to help you stay upright. Bear in mind that if you are using a squat toilet in a bar, it is likely that the steps might be slippery. Sadly, drunk people don’t have great aim. I myself have fallen victim to the squat slip and ended up landing rather heavily (with bare buttocks) in a squat toilet. It is not an experience I would want to repeat.
Always carry toilet roll
Toilet roll is not as widespread as you may think. This is great in terms of the environment but be aware that the alternative can be quite intimidating. Allow me to introduce to you, the bum gun! These sprayers do the same job as toilet paper, though to varying degrees of success. Personally, I have never managed to get along with the bum gun and instead favour carrying a pack of tissues. These are vital to staying fresh while you travel, particularly around South East Asia. If you too would rather use loo paper, remember to dispose of it in the bins provided as flushing it will block the system.
Always clean up after yourself
Some squat toilets will feature a foot flusher but other more primitive versions will just provide you with a water basin and pot. Fill the pot and tip the water down the toilet making sure to focus on any unpleasant clingers.
Bring sanitiser. Everywhere.
There is a chance that there will be a sink in your toilet but this isn’t always guaranteed. Even if you are lucky enough to be blessed with this modern convenience, don’t assume you will have adequate washing facilities. Always bring a bottle of hand sanitiser with you to make sure you don’t get caught out.
And there it is, the ultimate guide to squat loos! What are your most embarrassing squat stories?
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