The Toilets of Bali


It seems that everywhere I travel, eventually I do a toilet blog. Why I must wonder are toilets such a re-occuring theme – and then of course I answer myself – silly woman – it’s so obvious.

I’m a older woman – I need to USE a toilet frequently – and unlike a guy – a nearby tree is hardly satisfactory. I care about these things – I think about these things – and I’m willing to chat about them. Ipsofactso – Toilet Blog.

What does the perfect toilet need? My daughter and I, travelling thru Greece many years ago now, actually came with a check list – and then proceeded to rate all the toilets. I’m guessing the list hasn’t changed.

1. Privacy – sometimes toilets are just a bit too open to the breezes. My toilet on the Live-aboard boat in Komodo National Park definitely lost it in the privacy department. A shower curtain just doesn’t cut it. And there were toilets in some places in Bali (mostly off the beaten track for those worried about this) that had doors that didn’t close tightly – although none matched some of the total open to the world toilets in China. So 3 Stars for this one Bali

2. A Flushing toilet – no joke – lots of toilets in 3rd and 2nd world countries that I’ve visited skip the flushing aspect. It’s mechanical – it breaks – taking a bucket and pouring water to get rid of the ‘evidence’ is an inexpensive functional solution. I’d say a third of the toilets I visited in Bali had this issue – simply didn’t/couldn’t flush. 2 Stars here

3. A throne – not a squat. Sorry – bad knees, and squarts are hard on me. I’m a lot better than I used to be about making sure my feet stay dry and my clothes the same – but still. Please – give me a throne. Squats in Bali are not unusual – but you do have to go out of your way to find them – gas stations, private homes in country compounds, if you look – you will find. I did. Too bad too. I’m giving Bali 4 Stars for really just a few squats – and those were so clean.

4. Toilet Paper – now this is interesting. Not all toilets in Bali had toilet paper – and most needed you to put the used paper in a side trash can – but almost all of the toilets had a hose attachment for – well – bidet purposes. One even had a sign cautioning westerners Not to use the hose to waash their feet. Too fun, that. It’s hard to knock a place that values cleanliness as much as Bali – I’m thinking 5 stars here – although keeping some paper in your pocket is a really good idea.

5. A working sink – preferably with some way to dry your hands after you washed them. I’m not convinced that folks in Bali understand drying hands after washing them – nor do they seem to grasp the importance of napkins – at least from the folks I travelled with. I need both to be happy – and I definitely want a working sink. Critical actually. And less satisfactory if it’s shared by both men and women, but I’ll compromise on that. Places in Bali wihtout a sink were rare – but it wasn’t unusual to have to search for the darn thing. Why hide them I wonder? 4 stars and a flashlight for this one.

6. Level floor. I hate having to step up to get onto the toilet or the squat. It’s unblanced and feels awkward – but often they build up to hide the sewer tank. Guess that’s better than no sewer. 4 Stars

7. Clean – All the toilets in Bali – no matter how back woods, no matter how isolated, no matter what kind of silly establishment (a tiny all night grocery store springs to mind) – were clean. In fact – Bali was generally one of the cleanest places I’ve been. I saw ladies out sweeping and cleaning the roadways in front of their shops every day. Yes I did see a rat – but with everything out in the open air – and daily food offerings everywhere – that’s probably to be expected. Another note – Cleanliness is part of the version of Hindu popular in Bali – people have special clothes to wear to temple – and many of the most important temples including bathing rituals in a visit. And i saw people bathing in the rivers and streams quite frequently. So people are generally very very clean, Despite the heat! Bali in general rates very high on the clean scale. Impressive. 4 Stars.

7. Optional upgrades – fresh flowers (in the airport), options for towel, paper towel, or blow drying (fancy hotel on the beach that we popped in to visit), TV’s in the mirrors (never saw that here), granite/marble floors (only the fancy places did this – for most people tile worked fine. And every bathroom I entered was tiled.) And last but not least – locking doors if it’s a public place. I found several toilets in Bali that just simply didn’t lock closed. My favorite – someone had tied a nail to a cord – and you threaded the nail thru the former lock mechanism to hold it shut. Another memorable toilet was one that trapped a girl inside. She was hammering madly to get out – it took 3 of us pushing hard to free her.

So – Bali – 4 Stars overall. Better than some places – A lot lot better than other places – but not the best for fussy North Americans. Japan and South Korea are still my favorite Toileting places for this part of the world!

Getting Flushed in South Korea – More then enough about Seoul Toilets!


Little old ladies pay attention to Toilets – you just never know when you are going to need one – rush. So here’s the down and dirty on the toilet situation in Seoul.

In a word – it’s great. Seriously. We should take a lesson. There are toilets everywhere, even in the metros! I mean who ever designed the Montreal Metros as a toilet free zone should be eternally cursed with diarrhea – it would serve him right.

And there are always western (flushing with seats) toilets available. And at the Lotte Hotel – the public toilets even have bidet’s attached. That’s service.

20130506-044426.jpg

Sometimes both the stand up kind and the sit down kind are provided – but I’ve never seen just the stand-up kind in Seoul.

20130506-044417.jpg

And that includes in the metro, in public parks, at the Museums, in the restaurants, even in malls. Toilets are plentiful, Western Style, have Toilet paper, are clean, and are easy to locate. Amazing. And perfect for traveling ladies of a certain age!

Even better – they think about the kids.

20130506-044350.jpg

I know if you are a parent – you’ve had this problem. Your underage son has to pee – and you (the Mom) definitely don’t want to take him into the boy’s room. What to do? Well the Korean’s have 3 different solutions that I’ve seen so far.

Solution 1: A kids only bathroom in the lady’s room. Is this the cutest thing ever. And don’t worry – Jill wasn’t going to use them!

20130506-050855.jpg

Solution 2: A completely separate bathroom – labeled for families. I didn’t peak inside, but Im guessing there are miniaturized toilets for both sexes inside.

Solution 3: This cracked me up – a mini kid sized urinal in the lady’s room! The entire thing came just to my knees – prefect for a little boy – and hardly offensive to the ladies.

My discussion wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t discuss the Toilet paper. There is always toilet paper in the stalls and it is soft – a miracle I think. I’ve never been to an Asian country that took their toilets this seriously. But if the dispensers in the ‘chambers’ should run out – there is a dispenser on the wall by the entrance – you just help yourself before you enter – or ask someone to hand some over.

One tiny complaint – they put the dispenser for toilet paper a lot further back toward the rear wall then we are used to. That means you have to twist to get the paper. I don’t know if they notice the difference – but for me it’s just a bit awkward. Maybe they can get away with it because Korean women are more flexible than us. Who knows?

One more curiosity related to toilet paper – they love to use toilet paper for paper napkins on the tables of the hostels. Gross – but there you are. The cute thing – they don’t just set a roll on the table – there are dispensers that look like onions designed just for the purpose of hiding the toilet paper. Too funny. And trust me – a bit of a surprise the first time you ask for a napkin and get pointed to an onion.

Good job Korea! You win the Montreal Madame’s seal of Approval for taking public toiletting seriously!