The Toilet Post

A shot taken from a MRT metro train speeding away on the 16th of December 2006, taken in Taipei with a Nikon D200 and a Nikkor 18-35mm lens. Part of the MRT NTNU Chute.

Anyone who has been to Asia knows that the toilet situation can be problematic at best.

Why you might ask?

Squatting.

Squatting?

Yes, squatting. Most toilets in Asia are squatting toilets.

But before we get into this, let me just explain our situation here. We have been in Taiwan for a little more than 3 months. In all this time, I have conveniently avoided using the squatting toilets.

How?

Well, our school is a bilingual school, so the teacher’s toilets are western ones since we have a lot of western staff. And the toilets in our apartment are western ones too, since they are brand spanking new. Even though our building has already pollution marks on it because of the constant roar of scooter scootering by.

It is easy to get by, but once you hit the older places, you can not escape the reality of the squat.

Yesterday, we had some McDonalds. I don’t really like it, but it was raining and we were tired of walking in the rain and wanted to eat something. I have always had trouble digesting McDonalds. I like to say it comes in one end and goes out the other. The other thing that I have problems with is coffee. It is a diuretic, and what a diuretic for me.

Asian McDonalds are even worse for me.

So naturally, when we were in the library, I found myself having to go to the bathroom. And naturally, they didn’t have any normal ones, only squatting ones. I have heard that some Asians are so used to squatting, that they will squat on western toilets, which seems kind of funny. Still, it was problematic. I almost didn’t use it, but I knew that it was only 5:30 PM and that we would only arrive home at about 9 PM, so I couldn’t really go that long without using the bathroom. And since these were probably the cleanest I would get, the bathrooms at Taipei Main Station are totally disgusting, I decided that this would be my best bet.

I found the cleanest one, it wasn’t hard since they were pretty clean. I tried to find the right position. I wasn’t sure which way, since they were positioned sideways instead of forward. I figured out that there was this lid to protect you from splashes.

Then came the tricky part, I had to make sure my aim was right, wouldn’t want to hit the side of the bowl now, would we? It was quite a workout. I kept trying to imagine the Taiwanese business man finding a way to read his paper in the morning while taking a shit. Once I was done, came the wiping part. That was problematic as well, since my face was almost in the basket in which the paper went.

Oh you didn’t know? In Taiwan and other Asian countries, the pipes aren’t made to take the paper. You have to put in a waste paper basket on the side of the toilet. Kind of disgusting because the bathrooms will always smell of shit. Until the papers are thrown out.

Ah, the joys of Taiwan!

I couldn’t get how people use these toilets without any problems. I mean, when I use the bathroom, it is supposed to be relaxing. I take a book, take my time. Sometimes I can spend a lot of time in there because I am finishing a chapter. This wouldn’t work in squatting toilets.

I was glad to come home to western toilets.

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Author: range

I'm mathematician/IT strategist/blogger from Canada living in Taipei.

4 thoughts on “The Toilet Post”

  1. Hey tender [hooligan], I took about 100 pics of the MRT in Taipei. They are all kind of interesting. I definitely do not regret buying this camera, it has opened my eyes to a whole new spectrum of photography.

    Next things on my list, are a 18-200mm Nikkor VR lens and a National Geographic photography backpack. Later on next year, I will probably get a Sony HDR-FX1 HD camcorder to shoot some mini docs about life in Taiwan.

    I really like pictures of trains and metros. I wouldn’t mind taking a day to take pictures of each MRT stop. That might take longer than a day though.

  2. During my first three months in Taiwan I was make special “toilet only” trips to McDonalds to use the Western toilet.

    I remember the smells of the days that the garbage was left outside until the garbage truck came. Maybe the change had something to do with the smell.

  3. The bathrooms in our school smell terribly bad. I just close my nose, but you can’t help but smell part of it through your mouth, now how smelly is that.

    I’ve gotten used to it by now, since I was expecting a lot worse.

    The smell of garbage isn’t that pleasant either.

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