A Word on Asian Bathrooms

I have concluded that either, Thais are immune to foot fungus of any kind, or they just consider it something normal to live with. This is the only possible explanation for the eternally wet state of their bathroom floors.

You see, you don’t wear shoes in a Thai house. But the bathrooms are one big room with a drain somewhere in the floor, and there might be a shower attachment on the wall, and maybe a sink, or toilet, but essentially, it’s all one big wet floor with a drain. This may seem awesome, because to clean it all you have to do is hose everything down and it all just goes down the drain. It’s simple, no one has to plan these bathrooms with any forethought, other than, “Is there a drain and a way to spray water? Awesome, we have a bathroom.” But in practical reality it is significantly less awesome than it sounds.

First there is the pesky bit of trickery that is figuring out where to put your towel, and clothing so they remain dry while you are spraying yourself off in a curtainless shower. Not to mention trying to keep the toilet paper roll from getting soaked in the process. An adult could manage this, but factor in 4 children giving themselves showers and what you end up with is a soggy roll of toilet paper, sopping wet towels, and water in the medicine cabinet. If you are fortunate enough to have a medicine cabinet that is.

Then there is the part where the floor is always wet. Imagine an eager 2 year old running to go potty and encountering this wet floor. I have seen, and failed to catch, Bam Bam’s feet slip straight out from under him as he lands on the back of his head on the hard tile floor at least 4 times in the past month.

Imagine a pregnant woman going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, where, in spite of her many strategically placed mats, some late night showerer has once again made the floor soaking wet and she barely keeps herself from going down in the dark.

Then there’s the foot fungus. If you have ever had athletes foot to any degree or another you know that all it takes is a bit of water between the toes and the itching and burning and every thing get going full force almost immediately. Now imagine getting water between the toes every time you need to pee because you are always barefoot. Just for fun, imagine you have to pee as often as a women who is more than 8 months pregnant and has a baby head sitting pretty darn low.

Imagine how hard it is to reach down and treat said toes repeatedly all day long with a belly in the way.

And these are just the bathrooms in houses. At a rest stop on the way to Pai I watched little old lady clean the bathroom stalls by running the little tap that is in each stall for flushing and washing into the bucket filled with soap until it overflowed and the stall was at least half a foot deep with water. Then she pushed a mop around in the soapy water, thoroughly dousing the squat potties with the suds and then the sides and floors before turning the water off and letting it just drain. Squat potties are hard enough when you’re not used to them, without the added complications of a soaking wet floor to slip on while you’re doing it, oh, and an 8 month pregnant belly to balance at the same time. I’ve seen very few roadside restrooms that weren’t dripping wet.  Some smelled clean, some not so much.

I realize I’m a totally displaced westerner, with my own preconceived cultural ideas and all, but that western invention of a shower curtain, and a drain that contains the water behind said shower curtain, instead of it running all over the floor, that’s a cultural innovation I applaud wholeheartedly.

I am for dry bathroom floors, however they are achieved.

Wish me luck house hunting.

(The bathrooms at Sean and Prang’s house are actually not that bad. They have the shower in a separate little room from the toilet, and the sink in the main bathroom, and there is a wall between the shower side of the room and the rest of the room in the bathroom I use, but the floor still manages to be wet all the time anyway.)

***** UPDATED**********

So I have been informed that there are bathroom flip flops, which I assume are just regular old flip flops of some sort, and that Thai people keep them outside their bathroom door in their houses and wear them into the bathroom, and then take them off again when they leave the bathroom. This is useful information. Not quite as ideal as dry floors might be, but at least some level of protection from the wetness. I shall have to find some for myself.

all content © Carrien Blue

3 thoughts on “A Word on Asian Bathrooms

  1. I was going to write about the bathroom shoes… but then I saw your update. They seem to use the blue and white ones. We have three pairs in our house- I think in most Thai households everyone uses the same pair of shoes for the bathroom, thus three pairs for our three bathrooms. But I never use them. The only thing I really mind about the wet floors is the way it's impossible to keep dirty bare feet from making them dirty.

  2. I feel your pain. Just spending two weeks in Taiwan and the first thought on my mind everywhere I went was, "Are they going to have squat toilets?" Then there was the time we went to the zoo all day and all they had was squat toilets, and my 8-y.o. needed to go, and I couldn't go into the men's room to show him how to do it.

    I think in a humid environment bath mats are a lost cause. They'll never get dry and just mildew. Bathroom flip-flops sounds like the least of all evils in this case.

  3. I just discovered those big thick rubber mats at a store, the kind they use in pool bathrooms and such that are slatted so the water drains from them. This may be my best solution! 🙂

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