I’m just going to say it. Bidets are a big deal here. Toilet paper is hardly even a thing (outside of Singapore, Singapore has toilet paper). Therefore, learning to use a bidet has become necessary. I would emphasize starting to practice in the privacy of your own home rather than winging it for the first time while traveling.
We were recently in Malaysia and I was waiting for my girls to come out of the bathroom when I heard peals of laughter. “They’re probably spraying each other with the bidet hose,” I said to Marcus. I wasn’t too terribly far off as one child (I won’t name which one to save from any future embarrassment) waddled out of the bathroom, quite upset because she had tried to use the bidet hose but had not pulled her bottoms down far enough and now had sopping wet underwear and shorts. I had to walk away because I couldn’t let her see me crying with laughter.
Now, here’s a riddle for you: Not all bathrooms do not have toilet paper, but all bathroom stalls do not have toilet paper. Got it? Generally, if toilet paper is provided, it is in a dispenser on a wall near the stalls. It’s definitely in your best interest to travel with some sort of paper product in case it is not provided or, like me, you frequently forget to check if it was on a wall as you walked in. Or, if you’ve already done your practicing at home, use the bidet hose that is available 99% of the time.
The only drawback to the bidet is, of course, the amount of water that gets on the floor. And the toilet seat. And the walls. I mean, part of you thinks, “it’s only water.” Then the other part of you thinks “Dear Lord, it’s water with probably pee or poop mixed in and what the actual hell has been going on in here, did someone take a shower?!” This is also a good time to teach your children not to let their bottom half garments fall to the floor completely.
There are also squatty holes that you can use if you’re ultra brave which I am not but one of my girls was, in desperation. I was impressed. It also made me grateful for all of those early teaching moments when we would be out in the middle of the woods and they had to learn to go in the wild. God, they’re going to be so embarrassed when they read this one day. But you know what, ladies? Everybody poops and pees.
There you have it. My not-so-comprehensive list of using the bathrooms in South East Asia. If you have learned nothing else I hope you take away the need to travel with toilet paper. And maybe practice spraying yourself with a hose. You can thank me later.