Adventurous Ablutions in Far Flung Places

Over the course of my travels, I have stayed in many different kinds of accommodation – from over-nighting in a baggage rack on an Indian train hurtling through the night, to a deluxe suite in a Kasbah on top of a mountain in Morocco.

To be honest, when you’re asleep, you don’t notice any of the trimmings and luxuries, nor the deprivations that may surround you in the bedroom.

It is therefore more appropriate to judge a place by its ablution facilities.

Image by Public Domain Photos

The Long Drop in Indonesia

The toilets here are basically little wooden cabins perched on stilts, away from prying eyes (and also some of the most venomous snakes around).

But it does rather put one off when you are squatting over the open pit watching live pigs frantically snuffling around on the ground underneath you, merely 10 feet from where you are seated. Not an experience I want to have again.

And, just an idea – I would advise you not to eat the pork there.

Open Showers in Portugal

The beauty of doing a working holiday such as Willing Workers On Organic Farms (WWOOF) is that you get to stay in the most fabulous places, miles and miles off the beaten track, meet local people you would otherwise not have met, eat traditional home cooked food, and get to integrate into the community.

When I was working on building a tipi in Portugal there was a fabulous open-air shower for us to use, which was pretty much made out of an old stone wall and a rudimentary bamboo “door”.

There was a free-standing old fashioned wash basin and you just went in there, soaped up and splashed water about.  No need to be alert, electrical appliances were nowhere to be seen.

Just the sky above you, the sun on your back, and the birds singing, absolute bliss!

 Toilet Roll free zones

It might be worth noting the etiquette in India when it comes to toilet roll. You don’t have to worry about it really, because they don’t have any. Come to think of it, they don’t have toilets either.

Image by Ajay Tallam

Nine times out of ten, outside of main cities or Western-style hotels, the loo is a hole in the ground, with two distinct grooved areas where you are to put your feet, and squat. Next to the hole is usually a small bucket, with water in it. Once you have done your thing, you simply scoop out some water and literally wash yourself clean, by hand. But just make sure it’s the left hand.

Interestingly, Indians consider our obsession with paper for this function quite revolting. If you fell over and put your hand in some dog doo-doo, would you just wipe it with paper? No, you’d wash it. Also, squatting to defecate is actually what we are naturally programmed to so (look at small children doing it on potties) and it’s much better for you, rather than sitting.

So, you think you’ve got it right.

Thanks to this tradition, the left hand is seen as “unclean” so it’s best when in polite company to not allow your left hand to come anywhere in contact with food or objects which you are passing to others. It would be like handing over food along with some used loo roll here…

Have you got any other bathroom or toilet stories for me? The more stomach turning, the better!

James Duval is an IT specialist who is addicted to his gaming. Given the choice, he would rather spend his days roaring around the world on his motorbike, and travelling where people fear to go. He lives for the sound of a great guitar riff, and writes a mean blog for Alert Electrical.

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