First time travelers to Thailand are soon confronted with an element of plumbing not generally associated with western toilets: the Thai bathroom hose (“fahk bua”). Used to the western convention of toilet paper, travelers tend to eschew this remarkable device, which, in fact, keeps one cleaner after ablutions than does t.p. (Thais generally use paper only for drying.) The problem, apart from its unfamiliarity, is lack of instruction as to how the hose is used. Thais, ever cognizant of decorum, won’t tell you. But we will.
Why it works
Logic is the reason. Simply, a good jetstream of water does the job better than paper, and the additional use of soap makes one cleaner. And many westerners have now, after falling in love with the hose, bought them in Thailand, taken them to their own countries, and plumbed them into their own bathrooms. They generally agree that the use of toilet paper to clean oneself is barbaric.
How it works
It will take you a maximum of three sessions to get the technique down pat, and we predict you’ll eventually adopt it as your preference. You’ll need only two items at hand to do the job:
- soap, within easy reach
- a towel (or paper) for drying
Take these steps in the following order (we’re assuming the hose is located on your right. Reverse everything below if it’s on your left):
1) Flush the organic material
2) If you’re a man, rise forward, lifting your rear off the back of the seat, direct the hose to your nether regions, and hose the entire area at random. If you’re a woman, lean backward, hold the hose slightly in front of the area to be washed, then direct the jet stream over all areas, washing the detritus up and backward. Gravity and continued directed water will wash the effluvium into the bowl.
3) Continue holding the hose in your right hand, but stop the water flow. Grab the soap with your left hand, and rising forward, soap all areas.
4) If you’re a man, lean forward slightly, and, hose in right hand and soap in left, direct the hose slightly under you, aim the jet to both your personal areas, and to the soap in your left hand as well. Fire away. This produces the final cleaning action on both your bottom, and your left hand and soap as well. If you’re a woman, repeat the same procedure, but instead, lean backward, and direct the water stream toward the rear of the toilet bowl.
5) Replace the clean soap in its receptacle, and use the towel to dry off.
You’re now cleaner than you’ve ever been in a western country, on par with the Thais!
Other Thai bathroom essentials
Away from big cities, you’ll find squat toilets to be fairly ubiquitous, and in most bathrooms you’ll find a water spigot, a cistern, and a plastic cup or small bucket. Toilet paper is virtually non-existent. The idea here is to wash yourself with water from the plastic cup (remember to bring your own soap, as it’s not always provided), and when the cup of bucket is empty, fill it from the cistern of spigot. Outside, you’ll generally find a sink with soap.
Especially in bars, the single bathroom is unisex. When using the urinal in men’s bathrooms in bars, it’s not uncommon to find yourself getting a shoulder massage from the attendant. Be assured, it’s not a gay pickup routine. He’ll also offer you a clean, warm hot towel, and you’ll be expected to leave a small tip, as that’s his pay for keeping the restroom clean.
No doubt about it, Thai restrooms are the cleanest and funnest in the universe!