Having in been in South Korea for 2 years, I have done everything I could to avoid using the ‘hole-in-the-ground’ style of toilets for a number of reasons. The first, and most obvious, is that it’s weird. The second is that I’m a wee bit overweight and the idea of squatting down on my haunches did not look good for trying to get back up again.
The idea is that you squat down, facing the ‘raised’ part, and then let it all go. There is usually a little hose with a shower head on the end of it, hanging around. You wash yourself off and wash the waste to the sunken part. No flushing required. Toilet paper is used only to dry yourself.
In theory, this is supposed to be healthier for you and supposedly more natural for the body to dump waste. In reality its a pain in the ass, no pun intended. When you are somewhat overweight and starting to get that ‘old’ feeling, it’s rather difficult to get up from a squatting position. Would be easier if there were handles and such, but no luck here.
Now let’s talk about my particular ordeal. It’s new years eve, cold as all hell. The place where this toilet is, is in a separate room, not heated and a weak little bulb for lighting. There is ice on the ground just outside the thin metal door and water coating some of the ceramic surfaces. This is not looking well. Could I possibly wait for an hour before I head home, it’s 11:45pm. I also really hate the cold but I also really hate that turtle-head threatening to poke through also. So I say, screw it and I squat.
You really need good balance when you are doing this. I mean, not only would falling backwards be a potential mess, but also wet and damn cold. You are not likely to fall forwards and any of the surfaces you touch are ice cold, so you can’t really steady yourself in this place. Now, after some time, the business is done so am I going to use the hose (sans showerhead) to wash myself? Not a bloody chance! I use up the toilet paper and surprisingly not much of a mess. There is a disposal can there for used toilet paper so in it goes. I can only hope that I got it all because trying to balance yourself, wiping your ass and praying to god that you don’t fall backwards takes a serious amount of skill! I was able to pull it off though. Oh but getting back up took some real effort and I was kinda concerned at a few spots but eventually I was able to stand up without incident.
Ok, back to the party to ring in the new year and store these memories to write up a blog post :)