Indonesia Banget #29: The Toilets and The Water

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I have been meaning to write about this since last year but I have a lot of second thought because it might sounds a bit dirty or inappropriate to talk about this…but the more I think about the idea the more I feel like it’s an okay idea to share it.

Anyway…If you are feeling uncomfortable with talking about Toilets, please close the page 😉

A year a go, I saw Starter For 10 and there is a scene of a college boy was saying that in Asia, he used his hand instead of tissue to clean up after pooping. Ever since that day, I wanted to share a bit about Indonesian toilets and the manner we have inside it.

The Toilets

Photo doesn't belong to me, I found it through Google
Photo doesn’t belong to me, I found it through Google

Most Indonesian still use squat Toilet instead of flush toilet in their home.

Back then on my school days, I still remember that flush toilet was a rarity, nowadays I see it everywhere, in the mall and houses…however Malls use it the most. Only few Indonesian uses flush toilet in their home. To be honest, I prefer finding squat toilet when I am in the malls unless the malls provide tissue.

Most Indonesian are like me, we don’t trust flush toilet in public that much because the toilet is used by so many people with their thighs touching the toiletwhen using squat toilet, only their feet (which also cover with sandals or shoes) touching the toilet, so it’s much safer and cleaner that way.

When using flush toilet, we will try to find tissue and then put it all around the toilet where our thighs supposed to be. When their isn’t any tissue, some will try to squat on the toilet even though it is quite dangerous…but the idea of using flush toilet without tissue is just scary.

I, myself, will use flush toilet ONLY when tissue is also available no matter how clean the toilet is. If there’s no tissue…look for the squat one.

The Water

I shared about how many Indonesian are using their hands to eat…and we eat with out RIGHT hand because LEFT hand is used to clean up.

The movie (Starter for ten) was correct! Here in Asia, many use hands to clean up in toilet. I don’t know much about other Asian countries, I will talk only about Indonesia.

When we pee or poo, we use water to clean up. The first time I saw a western movie, I remembered how shocked I was…I was just a little kid and mentioned it to my parents that that man is dirty, he didn’t wash up properly, and he only used paper…eeuch. We wash our genital and buttock with water right after we pee or poo. In case of pooping, we also use our hand to clean all the leftover, with our right hand pouring the water. I live my whole life doing that and the idea of cleaning up without water is just unbearable. I don’t find using hand as something eeuch because we wash it with soap afterward.

Almost ALL the malls in Jakarta provide water in their toilets, the water source either uses a hose or comes from under the flush-box (I read it somewhere that the idea of this kind of toilet comes from Japan.). However, there are few places with dry toilet…no water is provided. I have been to one of these places and I find it hellish. I am not used to using toilet without water to clean up and it was impossible to hold it any longer. My friend told me that she had that moment once and taught me how to do it, we took A LOT of tissue and wet it with water, and take another tissue for drying up. We used that wet tissue to clean…but still, it was NOT comfortable at all!!

(Both photos are taken from google)

Most people I know who have ever gone abroad said that they carry a plastic bottle to keep the water for cleaning up.

I know some of you might think…what a weird topic to talk about!! Well, I did tell you in the beginning to close the page 😉

32 Comments Add yours

  1. That’s interesting. I’d never heard of squat toilets, but the reason for using them — especially in public places — makes sense.

    1. Novroz says:

      Thank you, Steph.
      If you ever visit Asia, you are most likely going to meet one…even in a well developed country like Japan.

  2. Nekoneko says:

    Very interesting Novia…. (and not at all gross or offensive a topic). 😉
    I had heard of squat toilets, and I’ve seen them in movies, but have never ever seen one here in the US. There is something like that Japanese water squirting one here called a “bidet” (a French term, strangely enough), but they are pretty rare….. I’ve only seen one in a hotel and have never personally used one…. the idea kind of strikes me as messy and unpleasant. Must be another way I’m “American”….. 😉

    We tend to use just toilet tissue here to clean ourselves up with, but trust me it does actually work and work very well if you have done it all your life. We also stress washing up well afterwards because although there is no specific “handedness” for the job, Americans tend to use their “dominant hand”…. the one you write with or perform most dextrous tasks… to take care of the job. It just feels awkward to use the other one… like it doesn’t know it’s way around… ummm… “down there”, Hehehhe!!

    1. Novroz says:

      Wow…I didn’t America has bidet too…I thought only in Asia. Well, it sure help Asian in America if there is more bidet 😉

      Yup, I agree with…I think it’s a matter of getting used to. You have been using tissue to clean up while we are here use water, it’s a bit difficult to change one another as we both have been doing it our whole life.

      Thank you for saying it’s not a gross topic 🙂

  3. Binky says:

    Well that’s a different topic! But it is very informative, and always interesting to hear about how you do things, whether different or the same as in other places. I know squat toilets are used in many places around the world. The bidet (water squirting toilet) is becoming more popular in the west, though far from common.

    After you go, I assume you use a scoop of water to “flush” the toilet?

    1. Novroz says:

      Thank you, Peter 🙂
      I am glad you like reading it. I think western should provide more bidets, at least for tourist’s sake 😉

      Yup…we flush it with a couple of scoups from that little bucket we usually call gayung

      1. Binky says:

        It is a bit funny because westerners think your kind of toilet is strange and unsanitary, and you think the same of ours. I agree, a bidet type of toilet would probably be the best compromise for all of us.

        1. Novroz says:

          Yeah…funny isn’t it! Habit makes us come to that assumption, we are trained to do this things since childhood while you are trained the other way and somehow it sticks into our mind and start looking the other way is the strange one.

          1. Binky says:

            Yes, like so many things really, most we probably don’t even think about.

          2. Novroz says:

            Agree!! I am trying to think what other things we (eastern and western) have in different, a small matter but very different. I hope I can always find something to share here in Indonesia banget 😉

  4. Alice Audrey says:

    My first (only) encounter with squat toilets was in China many, many years ago. I love them! Like you said, much more hygienic. I wish we had them here.

    1. Novroz says:

      Ah yes…China also uses squat toilet…well, practically most Asia.
      It might not be so comfortable for people who always use flush toilet…you are really are more Asian than American 😉

      1. Alice Audrey says:

        LOL. Maybe is as Asian in a previous life.

        I think once most Americans got used to using squat toilets, they’d prefer them. It was natural for me because was raised with some time in the back woods where the best accommodations were a hole that you dug in the ground for that purpose. Squatting is only natural.

        There was on on a train that really impressed me. It had raised platforms on either side shaped like over-sized footprints and a railing in front to hold on to. Only scary part was that you could see the train tracks going by underneath.

        1. Novroz says:

          Lol … I think you were Asian in the past life too 😉

          Ah yes, when I went hiking in the mountain…my friend told me about that kind of ‘toilet’ too. Lucky I never did that when I was hiking.

          Hold on….that means, our stuffs go underneath the train? Eeuuch…the rail must be filthy

          1. Alice Audrey says:

            People with buckets came out and collected the “night-soil”. Never did see a single place in China that didn’t have at least one person around. Coming from a place where you can go for miles without seeing any sign of human habitation, I thought I’d freak out, but after that first rough moment in immigration when the Japaneses grannies attacked me, it was all good.

          2. Novroz says:

            Ah! I hate to be in those people’s shoes. I think that’s a terrible job to clean the ‘night-soil’

            Japanese grannies attacked you? do tell more, you’ve made me curious!

          3. Alice Audrey says:

            We had just flown from Tokyo airport to Hong Kong. I got separated from my tour group and was desperately trying to catch up. About a dozen old Japanese women hit me around the legs with their umbrellas. They did it whether I tried to push past or just held still. Only when I caught up with my group did it stop, and by then I was at the emigration desk getting my visa checked. It was scary.

          4. Novroz says:

            That was weird!!
            I wonder why did they do such a thing!

  5. TBM says:

    Not a weird topic at all. I found it informative. I love learning details like this.

    1. Novroz says:

      Thank you TBM 🙂

  6. ruth says:

    I’m just glad I don’t have to squat anymore when I went back to Jkt, though when I went to Bali there were still some of those. I just had to pack toilet paper whenever I go back home now, ahah.

    1. Novroz says:

      Whuahah you have gotten so used to flush toilet 😉
      Flush toilet is more comfortable but I still like squat ones in public places.

      Do you still use water or already used to tissue as well? Just curious 😉

      1. ruth says:

        This is getting too personal 😀 The answer is both.

        1. Novroz says:

          It won’t get anymore personal than this 😉
          I am just curious because Peter (Binky) and I were talking about things we learned from childhood and shaped our habit…and you were born in Indonesia but live in US for many years…you are like a cross person in our talk 😉

  7. Aww, Indonesian toilets! Yeah, there’s something unique in that one. I kind of traumatized from a very dirty toilet I once saw before I went to eat in a restaurant. Well, not all toilets are like that here for sure. This is a very unique topic, Novia 🙂

    1. Novroz says:

      I can handle dirty toilet as long as the toilet is squat toilet..if it is a flush toilet and dirty…I rather hold it.

      Thank you Andina 🙂

  8. Caroline says:

    I didn’t think it was a weird topic at all, on the contraray I found it very interesting. In France (and some other Southern countries) until very recently there were only squat toilest in public places and in some places they still exist. Also in very old private houses. I hear people moan, but frankly, it is more hygienic. But we never use the hands, that’s not common in Europe at all.

    1. Novroz says:

      Thank you Caroline 🙂
      What you are saying makes me wonder when was flush toilet actually invented 😉

      1. Nekoneko says:

        Oooohh!! I can actually answer that one for you!! 😉

        The first flushing toilet was invented by an Englishman, Sir John Harrington, in 1596. (I was always a whiz at Trivial Pursuit back in college with such gems of knowledge stuck in my wee head… 😉 )

        1. Novroz says:

          Thank you for the knowledge, Miyuki 😉
          I wonder was he got knighted because he invented flush toilet 😉

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