Many travelers who visit Thailand are shocked, dare I say scandalized, by the squat toilet. I can understand how one might feel this way, walking into a stall expecting to see a familiar western toilet, only to be confronted with a hole in the ground and a bucket of water. ‘What the hell am I supposed to do with that?!’ you may think to yourself. Well, I’m going to tell you what to do with it. And then I’m going to tell you why you should embrace it.
Squat toilets in Thailand have grips where your feet are supposed to go. They help stabilize you. So when you see that porcelain O in the ground, set yourself up facing the door with your feet on the grips (that will minimize slipping off). A lot of them also have hand rails on the wall where you can hang on if your balance is off (which it can be if you aren’t used to squatting). When you finish your business, throw your TP in the garbage (sewage systems in Thailand aren’t great and can’t handle TP).
Then, if there’s no flusher, grab that floating bowl in the bucket or tile basin full of water and start scooping. Dump the water into the toilet bowl. The weight of the fresh water will naturally flush away whatever’s in the toilet. A few scoops of water should do (No water? There should be a tap you can turn on to fill the basin back up).
So what are the benefits of the squatter and why should I embrace it?
1. Personal flushing means you only use as much water as necessary to get the waste down. No 2-gallon flushes to send down a cup of piss. This means less clean water wasted (a commodity in hot, humid Thailand).
2. It’s better for your body. I don’t know if this has been scientifically proven, but I’ve heard many times that the squatting position is a more normal way to poo than sitting on a toilet, because sitting on a toilet bends your parts and you have to force it more. Gravity naturally does its thing when you’re squatting and your stuff moves more efficiently that way.
3. Your bum never has to touch a shared seat. This is a big one for me. I like only touching the toilet with the bottom of my shoes, it seems much more sanitary and brings me peace of mind.
4. The bum gun. Yeah, I love that thing. If you’ve ever been sick in Thailand, you know the miracle that is the bum gun. It’s basically a hand-held hose that works just like a bidet – spritz your bits clean and use less toilet paper. Less toilet paper means less waste, and less friction on your sensitive parts.
If, in the end, none of this is your cup of tea, then so be it. It’s all personal preference anyway. Just don’t write off the squatter because it’s different. Give it a chance and see if you aren’t converted!