I still remember my first squatty toilet experience just like it was yesterday. I was 22 years old and on a fabulous road trip that took my dear friend Janine and I by car from Barcelona all the way to Gibraltar, then across on the ferry to Tangier and back again. The trip itself was laden with so many memorable travel moments that to this day it still ranks in my top 5 favourite trips of all time. And one of those memories is from a seaside restaurant in Africa where we were eating the most amazing fresh fish … and where I discovered the squatty toilet bathroom, and that a cupful of water can replace toilet paper.
Fast-forward about 23 years and I’m now living in Kuala Lumpur. Over the years I have had the opportunity to experience lots of diverse loos, including squatty toilets in countries like Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, China, Hong Kong, India, and now here in Malaysia. Some have been quite nice, some a bit more challenging on my western spirit … but of course, when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go!
Additionally, I’ve enjoyed things like a bidet while living for 12 years in Spain. And the fabulousness of the water hose (with a spray nozzle) while living in India that is a million times better than the baby-style wet wipes that are increasingly popular with adults today in the western world.
Well, I’m happy to say that I have the fab water hose thingy back again in my new flat here in Kuala Lumpur (man, that thing is great!). However, while I’m not as excited to see the squatty toilet in some places here in Malaysia, I have adopted something new and different that is sort of clever and fun and makes up for that! I don’t know what to call it exactly so do forgive me. Well, it turns out that at work the loo has a personal, individual bidet system built into each toilet that is really pretty cool! It’s like a private little fountain that goes into action LIKE a bidet … but in super mini form, and with the twist of a dial instead of by opening a tap. It’s actually really very clever, and definitely beats the western ‘paper only’ finish (or those adult baby wipes I’ve seen on American TV shows).
A couple things to know about the toilets in Malaysia:
- You CAN flush the paper down the toilet in Kuala Lumpur. Unlike other major Asian cities where all toilet paper needs to be thrown in the bin, it seems to be standard practice in KL to just flush it down (better pipes here?).
- Individual toilet stalls won’t always have dispensers in them so if they don’t there should be one large toilet roll dispenser out in the main area of the restroom. If you see that as you walk in just go ahead and take what you need and then head into the stall.
- When there’s a communal toilet roll, you won’t find paper towels to dry your hands after you wash them. That toilet roll serves a dual purpose!
So far here in KL my biggest bathroom/restroom/toilet complaint is the same as from Hong Kong or India. That none of them seem to be air-conditioned outside of the larger hotels. It gets really toasty here and I’m adapting by taking cold showers and drying my hair in my bedroom to keep the bathroom as cool as possible so I don’t leave for work a sweaty mess! And if that’s my biggest complaint, I have a feeling that Malaysia and I are going to get along just fine.
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