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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   2 min read

When travelling east it can take a little while to get used to certain things like which street vendors to avoid, how to ride public transportation and even how to use the toilet. At least that last one will soon get a lot easier as Thailand installs sit-down toilets in all public washrooms.

There is an art to using a squat toilet and leaving it with your dignity intact. It takes a little practise to get the feel for it but for some travellers it’s just too much. The news from the Health Ministry of Thailand will come to the delight of many a travellers, especially females ones, that sit-down toilets will soon be the norm.

Why change now?

Thailand’s Health Ministry said that now was the time to make the changeover to assist the country’s aging population. By 2015, an incredible 14% of Thailand’s population will be over the age of 60. For Western travellers who may be a bit intimidated by a squatting toilet, this will surely be a relief. You can expect to see shiny new thrones over the next couple years popping up at train stations, airports, bus stations and even roadside rest stations.

That being said, it’s almost certain the travellers will come across at least a few squatting toilets while they’re on holidays in Thailand. If that’s the case, these tips will certainly come in handy.

Tips for squatting

Don't wash your feet

While it looks pretty self explanatory, there is certainly a technique for using a squatting toilet, especially if it’s your first time. It does take practise, so be vigilant and always on guard while you’re doing your business.

  • Always bring your own toilet paper. If you don’t you run the risk of there not being any or having to pay for it. Bringing your own cannot be stressed enough! Some stalls will have a bin where you can put your used paper, others not, so put it in a plastic bag and dispose of it  ASAP outside.
  • Unlike Western toilets, squatting ones don’t use water so the smell will be a lot stronger than you’re used to. We recommend putting a bit of minty lip balm or menthol cream under your nose to mask the smell before going in.

When squatting:

  • Remove anything out of your pockets beforehand, so they don’t fall out and land in the toilet accidentally.
  • Be careful, do not to let any of your clothes touch the floor or get in the way.
  • Squat with your heels flat on the ground with your feet hip-width apart, this is the most stable position.
  • If the squatting toilet has a hood at one end, squat facing it and try to aim as close to the hole as possible.
  • Once you’re done remember DON’T throw your toilet paper down the hole, it’ll get clogged.
  • Flush, or pour water down the hole using the bucket (note: make sure it’s full before you get going).

That’s it, you’ll be a pro squatter in no time! Have you ever had to use a squatting toilet while travelling? What was your first reaction? Any mishaps to tell about?

Imgs: zhaffsky, Amusing Thailand / Flickr cc.

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