Pants down, thighs clenched and shaking, pee...everywhere. Another fail, even though you're a self-respecting adult who manages hundreds of clients and gets out of bed in the morning without the help of medication AND who pays their bills on time. But squat toilets? Fuggedaboudit.

I could talk and talk for paragraphs to get you to scroll through this — like every Pinterest recipe ever — but I hate that. So here's what this article boils down to: By "doing it wrong," I mean that you're peeing into the squat toilet backwards.

Photo by Harvey Barrison

In Western culture we're so accustomed to walking into our stall, turning around, locking the door, droppin' trou, and doin' our business. We're all humans, obviously, so the steps aren't that different — but following the Western way (that is, turning around) when you're addressing a non-Western toilet means you're wayyy more likely to end up with pee on your leg or all over the bathroom like you're some kind of belligerent six-year-old boy.

Instead, don't turn around. DON'T YOU DO IT. Trust me on this one: Face the wall. Sure, your back will have to be to the door and that'll initially be disconcerting, but everything else will go much smoother. Take the above image: Do you see how the well and the deepest portion of the ceramic god is closest to the wall? You're aiming for that. If you're going for #2, do whatever you want — but if you're peeing, face the hole. Your stream naturally goes a bit forward depending on the degree of your squat, and if you face the hole instead of it being behind you, you'll land right in it like a hole-in-one (instead of pee bouncing off the shallow end and you dying on the inside). 

For the record, not every squat toilet is the same and different regions have different styles and customs — some have hoods, and in which case, you'll want to face those. For the vast majority you'll run across in Southeast Asia, the facing-the-wall bit will hold true. I lived there for several years, and probably peed wrong in about 987,471 toilets, almost feeling as if my lady parts weren't placed at the right angle. It wasn't pleasant (the faux anatomical despair and also the leg pee).

A step-by-step guide / "what's that ladle for?"

We all wonder at one point or another:

1. Walk into the stall / room / egregiously dirty shack that encompasses that venerable squat toilet. Do whatever you want with your pants — some people apparently take them off entirely (I'm way too lazy for that. Besides, where do you put them?!).

2. WITHOUT TURNING AROUND, face the deepest section of the squat toilet, the side with the hole (sometimes there will be a hood — in SE Asia, usually there won't be).

3. Squat as far as you can. The farther down you go, the easier it is to pee in front of you and not all over your legs. You might be stuck down there, but it'll be worth it. If your thighs shake at any point in the process, know that that's totally normal even if you can run 5Ks in your sleep.

4. If there's toilet paper, CONGRATULATIONS. You're lucky. Do your wiping business, and throw it in the garbage (it'll be the bin full of used toilet paper; can't miss it!). Most squat toilets can't handle TP, or anything else for that matter. Don't clog someone else's stuff, kay?

5. Near you, there's probably a bucket of water with a small plastic pot/ladle floating on the surface. Fill 'er up, and pour it into the toilet, using it as a sort of manual flush and saying g'bye to your expelled toxins. Place the pot/ladle back in the bucket.

6. Put yourself back together, go on your merry way, and tell everyone of your top-drawer squatting experience. 

Tips for squatting like the goddess that you are

Photo by Michael Coghlan
  • If you're in rural SE Asia, for the love of all that is holy, have some kind of Ziploc bag full of off-the-roll TP and hand sanitizer. Maybe even Kleenex or baby wipes if you're a pro. You'll be fine in any big city like Saigon, but there will come a time when you're glad you read this blog.
  • Take a deep breath and think about how Ryan Gosling does this, too.
  • Some places will have wads of TP for purchase, but don't count on it. If you run into this, however, take advantage of it. Save your own for later!
  • If you have a sensitive nose/stomach, put a glob of scented lotion under your nose. It'll distract you from the scents and from the experience at large.
  • Know that you'll get used to it and in the end, it'll make you a better person. We promise.

Now go forth and squat, you princesses of New York, you queens of New England.

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