To Pee Or Not To Pee

Let’s talk toilets, specifically Turkish Toilets.  Those that know me will be aware that I am no fan of the traditional Turkish Toilet.   You know the ones I mean, the shower tray facility with foot rests on either side of the hole together with the obligatory garden hose pipe for flushing purposes.  Generally speaking these toilets are usually grim godforsaken hellholes and in most cases, we have to pay to use them.  As I usually don’t have any spare change (a bit like the Queen), Ahmed is the one to grudgingly hand it over as he would my pocket money for the week.  His generosity is truly legendary.  And then to add insult to injury, stands outside with his arms folded like my minder.

Having had a knee operation a few years’ ago after a horse riding accident, my breakdancing days are far behind me now and whilst I may or may not make it into the squatting position, sadly I know it’s unlikely I will be able to straighten myself up again without (a) a hoist or (b) assistance.  I am sure that Ahmed would have no problem in coming to my rescue; however, I would like to preserve a little of the magic at this early stage in our relationship.   

As nearly every Turkish petrol station has a pedestal toilet in the gents but only a traditional shower tray thingy in the ladies.  Ahmed is usually sent to scout ahead to discover whether there is a suitable toilet and if not he acts as sentry whilst I dash into the gents to use the facilities. I have immense respect for our Turkish sisters who are not only able to manoeuvre themselves into the small cubicles, negotiate the edges of the shower tray without slipping and all in trousers too!

On the one occasion I endeavoured to avail myself of these facilities I had a most unfortunate accident when I somehow managed to get both feet in one trouser leg, fell over and bashed my face on the stall door.  I spent the remainder of the day with a mild concussion not to mention injuries that looked like I’d been dragged along the tarmac by my face.  On the up side, after the initial amusement had worn off, Ahmed did treat me to a Big Mac. 

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102 thoughts on “To Pee Or Not To Pee

  1. Oh God, I’d say about 80% of Japans public toilets are the same. I know there will be the day when I take that wrong step, and right in to it…

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  2. We have “toilets” like that here in Italy and whenever I am out I try to hold it as long as possible, only breaking down and using it when my bladder is 30 seconds from rupturing. This does not help with the “splash-back” problem.

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  3. I came across only one squat toilet in our brief time in Turkey. It was where the bus stopped so not much choice and I resigned to my fate fairly quickly – at least it was very clean!

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  4. Pingback: Special for a Crazy Train To Tinky Town | Around the World in a Day

  5. I found them v difficult too, particularly in trousers, but at least I haven’t dropped a camera battery down one which is what my husband did. Don’t ask about the fishing out process etc – yuk. He had hung the belt with all the travellers items around his neck for ‘safety’ prior to any personal operation and for some reason the camera case opened, the battery flap popped and said battery came skittering out and swan dived down. We were at Pamukkale so there was plenty of water around for the great clean up, but I don’t think I’d have done it – in fact I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t. They weren’t pretty toilets as in your pic but all concrete, dark and hard to clean I imagine. Oh, yukkity but needs must 🙂

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  6. I think us Americans lose the bendy ability because of our bathrooms. I’ve noticed a trend where the toilet seats seem to be getting higher. Pretty soon we won’t be able to sit or get up in anything lower than normal chair height. Maybe TMI, but I understand the squatty position actually is extremely good at avoiding constipation. 😉

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  7. Ahhh the infamous squatty potty! While living in Korea and traveling Asia I had a whole system to ensure my pants didn’t get any “funk” on them while visiting the squatty. Your pic does seem to have some “rumble strips” haha ;). Hey thx so much for stopping by my blog! It twas a pleasant surprise.

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  8. I lived in Jordan for four months thankfully never needing to use a squatty toilet, even though though that’s what was predominantly available. I said “Never again!” after one use in China- and that was even in a skirt and not pants!

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  9. I have never been to Turkey, but traveled
    In Italy in the mid-90s when these were still
    Common in ritual areas. My vote (and choice then) not to pee!

    What a horrible experience, falling and smashing your face. I am so sorry.

    I think if you grow up using these toilets, you must develop the right muscles needed and learn the center of gravity/ weight balance to use them effectively, naturally, without thought or effort. A flight attendant friend of mine told me that on India and Turkish routes, the toilets are often broken because the women climb up on the pedestal style toilets and stand on them to go.

    Thanks for sharing. And thanks for reading my blog.

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  10. I hate the sqatty potties! In China we found the same problem, though usually at public places where tourists frequent there was maybe one regular one…but it was rough. Heading to India in a few weeks where I fear the bathroom situation will get even worse…

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  11. Too funny… and sadly all too familiar. As I count down the days until I leave for my trip, I feel time slipping away where I know I should be practicing my squats at the gym, if only to make the dreaded squat toilet a little easier once I’ve arrived. Squatting will only get you so far though right? Ugggh the memories..

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  12. Ha, very funny! Though I’m sorry for your injury – poor thing. Many years ago, I lived in Malaysia for two months with an Indian family, and the only toilet option in the apartment was the squat kind. At first I was horrified, but you do what you gotta do… By the end of my time there, I had become quite blasé about it, and developed much stronger leg muscles! My favourite though, are the Middle Eastern ones that are sit down, but have a little spray hose beside the toilet that you can elect to use if you like. I ALWAYS elected to use it, peeing or otherwise, and especially appreciated it during certain times of the month! Now, I have become too fastidious and miss the squirty hoses when I’m back home. Ah toilets; what a rich topic indeed!

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  13. Poor you!! I remember very similar toilets when I was in Japan – the photo brought back awful memories. Ahmet does not sound a very sympathetic character, at all. (Didn’t someone write a book called Toilets Around the World, or something? If not, why not? Plenty of material there!!)

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  14. You find these mostly in les aires de repos (highway rest stops) here in France – last one I stopped at had Louis Armstrong music playing through an intercom system, maybe as a way to make using the toilet a more pleasant experience 🙂 ! (Thanks for visiting my blog.)

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  15. For public toilets I actually prefer them, it is so much cleaner. Although I can understand that if your knee doesnt cooperate it is a toughie. Here in Mexico they have the regular toilets, but without seats. I don’t really care for those either. I find hanging over a toilet so much harder.
    But anyway, while traveling through Asia I once entered a ‘normal’ toilet with footprints on the seat. Try to imagine that, haha.

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  16. Oh good gracious your post “To Pee or Not to Pee” is wonderful. I was recently using squat toilets in VietNam, which I have not yet posted about in full (I will definitely be linking to your wonderful blog when I do!) and my own arthritic knee created a similar problem.
    I look forward to each new post, Crazy. Keep driving your train and I’ll keep hitching my freight car.
    Love,
    Traveling Marla
    Thanks for liking another of my posts.

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  17. Loved this Blog post, after travelling in Bali, Thailand and Nepal, I think I have seen ands used a good assortment of these types of toilets, in fact I do have a few Q. for anyone who really knows how to use these contraptions. Q.1 What do you do if you need to do #2’s and where does it go??
    Q.2 What are you supposed to do with the paper after you after used it ?? Q.3 What the hell are you really supposed to do with the hose, and how are you supposed to dry off ?? trust someone can help here LOL Roslyn

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  18. They had toilets like that in France too … think it all changed now – and in Africa it’s still the same – I didn’t have a problem with them .. so long as they where clean – because in in principle, it’s the same system we use when we have to use the nature. Brilliant post. *smile

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  19. Oh, My Gosh; the simple things we take for granted. I too have encountered those types of toilets and am filled with dread when I think about using them. Also, there is usually no toilet paper there. My mom always cautioned me to carry tissues with me for such problems…

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  20. Going through your post and some of the comments, my admiration for our ancestors is going up. I have heard people from Italy, Thailand, Bali, France, etc. say that they had (or have) similar toilets in their countries. Well, add india to that list. Amazing how despite limited contact, some things developed in almost identical manner across continents. They say it strengthened certain parts of the anatomy. No C-sections in those days….

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  21. My mother can remember her mother, with her long skirt, standing and peeing straight down in the dirt, but I’m afraid those days are long behind us. Who is Ahmet anyway? Thanks for checking out my blog!

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  22. Crazytrain, this is why I swear by traveling in long skirts only! They never touch the floor if you’re unfortunate enough -as we all are, since we love traveling too much- to have to pee in dirty airplane toilets, at disgusting gas stations or in your shower-stall nemesis: the Turkish (or Indian!) Toilet. Works a charm!

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  23. ah, the memories you brought back.

    I just came back from Tibet and China. What’s a toilet? I would wake up every morning and do THE check: water, check — hand sanitizer, check — toilet paper, check. After using the toilet “au naturel” in the desert for 3 weeks (the most beautiful spot was next to the river watching the sunrise over Everest) it was a bit of a disappointment to shut yourself up in a little metal cubicle again!)

    It’s 2 months later and I’m still finding toilet paper stashed in all my pockets (unfortunately at this point they are all hard little rock-like thingees, having been washed over and over.

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  24. OMG…it’s been forever since i’ve been over here to visit you in Turkey and WHAT DO I SEE? PEE! REALLY TINK? I’ve had enough pee to last me a lifetime! Truth though? Damn I’m glad I’m not in Turkey. 🙂 funny stuff girly

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  25. I have bladder issues, and I have to pee way too often to mess with that stuff… Besides, what if you have bad balance or a bad hip or something? (God forbid you try to use one of those things while drunk. LOL)

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  26. My favourite was taking an overnight train to Ankara. It swayed like a carnival ride and it was one of the fabulous Alaturk non-toilets. I must have looked like a hopping toad as I tried to squat just in time for the cabin to almost jump the track. My chiropractor says thank you.

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  27. gosh I have these!!!!! there are lots in Italy like these, in public toilets, in bars and restaurants etc. My sister used to tell me they are so much more higienic? dooh? I tend not to use them and do the same like you, go into the gents, or wait till I get home, 🙂

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  28. Hilarious, I remember my first visit to Turkey in ’84, which was also my first intro to these somewhat interesting toilets you speak of; as a young, inexperienced traveller, I was mortified at the thought of. Years later and many ‘squats’ later these loos are no longer mortifying. Great blog. Jen 🙂

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  29. They also have these toilets in France. They maybe great if you are wearing hardly any clothes, but not if its minus 3C outside, so you’re wearing 5 layers of clothes, thermal an AND trousers which you are hitching up with one hand, holidng on for grim death with the other while gripping your handbag firmly between your teeth!

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  30. Love this! Admittedly, during my travels, toilet talk is not uncommon. While I was in Turkey, I was on the constant quest for Westernized toilets, and in Nepal, upon exiting every bathroom, my friend or I would ask one another… “So, how was it??”

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  31. During my European travels, I have been stymied by many a toilet, usually when it comes to how to flush them. If I ever came upon a toilet like you describe here, though, I have no idea what I would do!! Anyway, since my first bathroom conundrum, I have become increasingly interested in foreign bathrooms. Why are these things not covered in travel guides?? I had a web page 12 years ago where I posted all my foreign toilet pics, and collected pics from others, too. I used to dream of publishing a book about toilets around the world. I think someone has beaten me to it, though!

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    • I detest Turkish toilets and think you need to be double jointed to use them and it perplexes me that there is always a pedestal toilet in a stall in the gents. I didn’t realise that there was a book about toilets around the world but it does seem to be a subject which we all seem to have strong feelings about.

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  32. My parents lived in Turkey (ankara) for a few years. I have experienced these up close and personal. Yuck. I always kept kleenex or TP with me and wet wipes. Most only had a faucet or hose. Now i know why there is an ‘unclean’ hand.

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  33. If I had to travel I would have to take a toilet with me, hmmmm I could see me trying to explaining that one to my husband. Great site, I’m looking forward to following you and all of your adventures.

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  34. I have no way to say this any nicer…..sorry…
    That is the toilet?? For real??
    Thomas Crapper did not create that I am sure…
    I will admit I do not sit on toilets I do not ‘know’ & have learned to ‘hover’…this is nothing compared to the contortions women there must do…
    You are a brave brave woman Dallas…..boldly ‘going’ we many have not ‘gone’ before….
    Sherri-Ellen 😉

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  35. O.O I have never seen such a toilet!!! Nor did I know one like that existed >.<
    I feel sorry you had to go through that. But I can't help myself from laughing by how you tell the story 😀 thank you for posting this. It is a life saving lesson from emarasment. Now I know I should tote a pee bag when touring other countries.
    I remember my mom bought something like this at Walmart: htp://www.pilotmall.com/product/TravelJohn-Disposable-Urine-Bags/safety

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