Friday, 12 November 2010

The terrible tragedy of the toilet

For the first time in my life I had to use an Eastern toilet. Myself and Mike went for a run down Bowen Road, a scenic, flat trail that runs from Central out to Wan Chai. Mike runs a lot faster than me, so I was trundling along on my own when my stomach suddenly did a backflip, and I was forced to walk half bent-over, squeezing my please-god-keep-it-inside muscles until they nearly spasmed.

Finally I arrived at the public loo with my bowels virtually overflowing (as if someone was repeatedly smashing me in the stomach with a cricket bat) ready to relieve the pressure cooker I must have swallowed. And what greeted me was this:

Well let me tell you, I have used many bogs in my life ranging from ones in snooty hotels to long-drops, and I have never in my life endured such an unpleasant toilet experience.

For starters, you can't sit down. You have to put your feet on the sides - where those lines are - and hover over it. I wasn't sure at the idea angle and tried half standing up - maintaining terror that I was standing too straight and the resulting excrement would land in my shorts, or squatting right down trying to quash the fear of falling backwards. I have never encountered a toilet where I had to aim. On a sitting-down bog, one merely lets it drop out in full knowledge it will land in the bowl... a privilege not extended to users of Eastern toilets.

Secondly, we also enjoy the luxury of having our personal waste sit in a little pool of water, hiding the smell, and because of the shape of the toilets we are used to, we don't need to look at it. This is not the case with this crapper as it sits in the porcelain bowl right below from whence it came - which is the user's rear end. It's really not my favourite part of how my body works and I would prefer to ignore it.

The next terrible thing about it is that, for some unknown Asian reason, the toilet paper is outside the stall. Now I have never budgeted toilet paper. I have no idea how much I use so I grabbed as much as I thought I needed, then doubled it and went in with that.

I wasn't even close. After half-wiping, I hoped to blinding hell that no one else was in the bathroom and squat-hopped my way over to the toilet paper dispenser to get more. This is a lot easier said than done. Think leap-frog with your pants around your ankles.

Once again, there is no simple way to just pop the used bogroll into the can. The first time I tried throwing it in I missed and it landed on the floor. Needless to say, I left it there. I wasn't wasting any of my precious bogroll supply picking it up. (I eventually felt guilty and, resisting all temptations to just run away, kicked it in post-flush.)

Bear in mind you also aren't wiping at an angle you're used to, and you've been hovering over the toilet for a few minutes now. Your leg muscles are killing you but you cannot move until you've finished.

It was the grandest form of torture under which I have ever gone.

Next time I go running I'm taking a bucket.

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