Living on the Road

Going Abroad: How to Answer the Call of Nature Anywhere in the World


International Bathroom Survival Guide

Going Abroad is both a very amusing read and extremely practical. Americans abroad tend to have two kinds of toilet difficulties, low tech and high tech.

At one end of the spectrum, there is the squat toilet. This may appear to be simply a porcelain hole in the ground with foot rests, but you can learn to use it. First, you probably need to practice squatting before you leave home. You need to build up those underused muscles so that you don’t fall in. Second, you need to learn which direction to face. (Hint: you want the two holes involved to more or less line up).

The second low tech problem is toilet paper (or the lack thereof). You’ll learn how the locals wipe themselves without paper. Actually, they usually rinse with water. That bucket and dipper by the toilet are not for drinking. Still, be careful about grabbing anybody’s left hand. Local customs do vary.

Why is there a waste basket full of used toilet paper in the bathroom? Why don’t they flush it? There’s a reason. Don’t you flush yours. You may knock out the plumbing system for the building, or even the whole village. (I’d like to take this opportunity to once again apologize to the people at the Naval Museum in Haifa. I didn’t know.)

The USA used to be a technologically advanced nation. Not so much anymore. The problems at the other end of the spectrum involve high tech toilets in more advanced countries, particularly Japan. The important thing is to learn how to flush them without needing to call down to the hotel reception desk for assistance. Unfortunately, this book is somewhat dated. It does not cover the latest toilets, which are probably Wi-Fi hotspots that will analyze the contents of your excrement and send health recommendations to your phone. But the main thing is how to flush.

In this book you will also learn about the mysterious bidet, what it is for, and most importantly, what it is not for.

This book is very well-illustrated to aid in learning.

-- Walter Noiseux 08/12/15