squats : january 04
So the New Year rolls around and it seems like every Tom, Dick and Harry has updated their website with a snazzy new look. Do you people have so much time during the holidays to do this sort of stuff? But I was browsing through some sites last night and was pretty shocked to see some new facelifts for the New Year. Ok some of you may have done this before 2001 but hey, I wasn't around for the unveiling during December.
Makes me wanna get my pics developed to see what creativity can come out of them. Speaking of pics - these travelogue entries are rather dry without visual stimulation.
Man, I'm beginning to sound like Fodor's or Frommer's in these travelogues. Very *yawn* and not enough of my usual vulgar language. But then again, if I wrote well enough, maybe I can go work for a travel book company and do both at the same fuckin time. Alright!
OK, I know all of you have been wondering about the squatting toilets in Hong Kong/Japan. I'm happy to report that I soiled myself only once.
I managed to avoid all the squatting toilets for the first few days in Hong Kong. I reduced my intake of liquids and when there was an option to use a Western style versus an Asian style hole in the ground - ER, I opted for the Western style of course. I'd even wait and let others go ahead of me. They think I'm too good for the squatting toilets I'm sure.
So I should know better than to mix alcohol and squatting toilets. I went out for some beer with my brother in law and his current girlfriend at some karaoke bar in Tsim Sha Tsui. It was a very local place and the bar was deceptively quiet on a weeknight...makes me wonder if the Triads aren't going to bust in or something and hack someone to death. But, I watch too much HK movies. Anyway, after about 2 Bud Lights, I needed to relieve myself.
Made my way to the ladies room and walked in.
I should have recognized the elevated steps to the stalls, which clearly means one thing...squatting toilets.
My bladder made that decision for me....fast.
So I choose a clean one and lock the door. I position myself carefully over the "keyhole" on the floor and pull my jeans down.
Man, why aren't there handles to hold onto in these places? Do Asians have such muscular quads to actually take a constipated dump over the squatting toilet? And if there were handles to hold onto - would I even touch it? So I squat down and somehow I look as relaxed as having my barefoot plunged in piranha infested waters. Something doesn't seem right. I gather as much of my jeans and underwear toward the front before I let the Niagara Falls flooooow.
I stand up.
Kinda moist in some places.
I touch my pants near my ass.
I got piss on my jeans! Lucky for me, they are dark dark indigo jeans, so you can't tell and thank god the karaoke is darker than my jeans - so no one will notice.
Oh fuck it. Who cares. It's just me. If I can deal with it, then it's no biggie.
I get back to the table and whisper into K's ear. He doesn't seem surprised.
I decided to not drink for the rest of the night.
An obvious choice.
Squatting toilets are tough. You have to carefully maneuver yourself as far back as possible while trying to maintain your balance and while trying to keep your clothes from touching the urine saturated floors. That means, you can't read magazines or newspapers in there and for some ungodly reason, they always have the toilet paper roll behind the toilet, so you need to maneuver your body in an acrobatic-esqe position to grab some of that paper.
For the most part, toilets in Hong Kong are less than satisfactory compared to what we're used to here in the States. And they usually offer all of one kind of toilets...either all Western style or all squatting style. However, the Japanese toilets are kept very clean...except for one odd thing....they don't offer paper towels to dry your hands with after you wash them. Sure, there's a sink. There's soap. But no paper towels. Sometimes there's a hand air dryer but egads...not always! I've developed the technique of shoving my hands straight into my pants pockets and drying them off that way. In Japan, it's customary to carry handkerchiefs around to wipe your hands with. That explains the unbelievable selection of handkerchiefs in the department stores. I picked up a few and use them as scarves.
Yeah, I'm a rebel.
Japanese lavatories usually offer you two styles, Japanese style (squatting) and of course the good ole, sit your ass down Western style. Which style it is is clearly marked on the stall door - in kanji of course. If you don't know kanji, just nudge the door open and see for yourself.
Toto is the reigning Japanese bathroom fixtures company from toilets to bathtubs to sinks. But let's focus on the porcelain god shall we? A good number of public lavatories offer the toilet with the oh so lovely ass-washing stream of warm water to clean those easy to miss spots. There are actually two buttons on most models.
One is for the frontal area for women. Good way to get rid of that unwanted smell from ahem, down there. And the second one is for the butt area. You simply press the button and it will automatically shoot a stream of water in the chosen appointed areas. There is even an option for water temperature and the pressure of the stream. It is rather surprising when it first hits you but once you've had it - you'll never go back to the regular, boring, unsanitary plain ole toilets.
Why we don't have these here is beyond me. It really does truly keep you "cleaner" because honestly folks, you never know when you're going to get an impromptu oral sex session right? And don't you want your breath to be fresh?
But, I do look down in disappoint at the quality of their toilet paper. Unabsorbing. Tears easily and thinner than a slice of Fugu sashimi. Glad to have my Charmin back that's for sure.
So what's the tally? Used the squatting toilets about 4 times during my entire trip and although I'm no expert, at least I don't pee onto my pants anymore.
But the shoes get a little splashing though....