Sunday, February 1, 2009

Shelf toilets

No photo for this one, you wouldn't want it.

I have to wonder though.

If you have traveled in Germany or Holland, and possibly elsewhere in Northern Europe, you may have noticed that some of the toilets are what are known as shelf toilets. These (gross) babies are designed so that your more, shall we say solid offerings rest above the waterline in clear sight with no obstructions, the liquids and the paper land elsewhere.

I assume the idea is so that you can inspect these stinky relics of past meals for, well, I cannot imagine why you would want to inspect them.

As far as I am concerned that would fall into the category of too much information. No?

I like my Spanish toilet here, it is a light grey-ish brown/dark beige colour with a narrow deep hole at the bottom. By the time you finish your business and drop the paper in, everything is decently covered and it is all dark enough to obscure any details. Flush and it all disappears without any alarmingly visible swirling and mixing, like you get in N.A. Swoosh and it's gone.

Just the way I like it.

One of the little asides of travel: the variety of toilets. Another day I may post about the truly disgusting French toilets. How do those restaurants stay open without passing cholera around I will never know. Public Spanish toilets are quite hit and miss, but NOTHING compared to the Parisian ones. The toilets on the trains in Russia in the winter with the giant sh*tsicles that had to be knocked off periodically. The loos in the trains in India where the men (bless their disgusting souls) mistakenly believe they can aim accurately through the narrow hole in the floor while standing in a swaying train; leaving a pond of *liquid* with two foot-sized islands bracketing the hole requiring you to leap onto them, spin around and squat over them all while holding your skirts up to keep them dry.

Ugh.

Too much information.

Sorry.

Shelf toilets are still weird.

I have to admit, I would love some toilet stories in the comments if you are up to it and are still reading and not retching over your own porcelain god after this gross-me-green post. C'mon, I know you have some.

20 comments:

NicoleB said...

I can offer you a pic of a very nice "down in the ground" toilet in Korea ;)
The only other place I've seen them so far was at the beach in Italy.
Talk about disgusting ;)

C.S. said...

The outhouses in Kentucky, where I grew up, don't seem so awful after reading this.

Beth said...

Try West African latrines. The filth, the giant roaches, the horror...
The best you can hope for is a concrete slab with a hole in the middle. If you're really lucky, there's a plastic teapot of water, to let you wash down any "misses" and rinse your hands after. Toilet paper, of course, does not exist.
All in all, they make French toilets look good.

kate said...

I don't have anything to top what you and your commenters have seen (thankfully!) In Peru I visited a "little hole in the floor" toilet and also on an excursion to see condors the bus stopped in a tiny town (maybe town is too ambitious a word) and I went looking for a bathroom, only to be told that there were no bathrooms. In the whole town. Not even at the health center. Not even any places specifically designated for the purpose of. So, it was a nice "in the wild" experience...

Beth said...

Shelf toilets sound worse than outhouses - and I've been in some pretty grotty outhouses in my time.

A toilet story? Hmm... I was impressed with the toilets in England - so little water used to get the job done (so to speak!).

J.G. said...

Not a filth story but still qualifies as a toilet story. This incident became a family legend.

When I was growing up, we all shared one bathroom and for some reason my parents would use the toilet but not flush during the night. They were also not keen on turning on the light.

We had an old house with a chimney, and one night a flying squirrel got in and wound up in the toilet, where he went CLUTCH from below on the next family member to use the facilities!

Once the screaming stopped, the rest of us thought this was the funniest thing ever. We kept the poor squirrel in a cage for a few days until he dried off and started smelling halfway normal again . . . during which time we named him "Commodore."

Thanks for inspiring this great memory.

mmichele said...

Those Dutch shelf toilets are bizarre, but in the true spirit of the Dutch, one does not talk about them.

mmichele said...

Here. She has a great blog and while you have to scroll down a bit to get to toilets, it's pretty funny.

http://www.breigh.com/wordpress/holland

The Bodhi Chicklet said...

There are some pretty funny comments here. Just goes to show that middle-aged ladies still love a good toilet joke, huh? Japan had the weirdest toilets I've seen. Like some others here, a whole in the ground, no paper - you lifted your skirts and squatted. Back luck to you if you were wearing pants!

NicoleB said...

@Bodhi Chick - those were the ones we had in many places in Korea too :D

And our landlords always tried to convince us that we have to throw the toilet paper in a bin, not in the toilet.

You don't want to know what they used the stuff out of the septic tank for,.....

elpadawan said...

The idea behind the shelf-toiletting is that it will prevent the big "splashing" of your own "whatever you put down there" upon dropping of your... "whatever you drop down there".

However, this can also serve the purpose of proudly checking the "job well done", before bidding it farewell.

The Bodhi Chicklet said...

P.S. I have nominated you for the Marie Antoinette award, should you care to accept!

Trish said...

Oh God, I know those German toilets well *gak* and it's all just too weird for me.

I haven't been much further than Mexico, though, where the best advice I ever got was to carry around a packet of kleenex because most public toilets don't have any. Some of them don't even have seats . . . it's just a porcelain bowl to squat over.

fun times! lol

oreneta said...

Nicole...I don't have anything against squat toilets per se, the ventilation and surrounding swill though...

CS...outhouses too depend on the ventilation, and the co-occupants.

Beth...I KNEW you would be able to outdo any story I had. KNEW IT.

Kate, I have been many places where an open air event is by far the nicest option. The view is usually good anyway.

Beth, yes...though sometimes those low flush jobs don't quite get it done....

JG...I would NEVER be the same if I was sitting peacefully on the pot and a damp and stinking squirrel latched onto my nether regions. OMG. You have THE best toilet story.

Mmichele...great link, thanks...how are the loos in Hollywood???

Toilet humour never dies, Bodhi, but no paper? Was there a dipper and some water???

And thanks for the award...

Nicole, I always hate those bins of used paper, they always collect flies who then go and land everywhere else. Eeeeewwwww.

elP, hehehehe...the Splash Factor...I hadn't thought of that...but then....a bidet??? Doesn't that get ya kinda damp and rinse off all that, ya know, stuff? Then again, the Dutch didn't seem to have all that many bidets.

Trish...I can work with carrying paper.....the worst were the western toilets with seats that people had subsequently squatted on so you NEVER want to sit on them....or hover over them, just in case, but if you squat on the bowl, the seat is loose, and it is all so slippery. Even more fun on a train.

OMG, I started again.

I'm off.

Thanks for all the stories!

Diane Mandy said...

I remember once celebrating New Years in Beijing at a well-known club, Suzie Wong's, in my floor-length cocktail dress. Nature called and I was stunned when I discovered the place had a pit instead of the toilet. Needless to say, there could be no squatting in a gown, so I held it till after midnight

sirdar said...

LOL!! Great post. I've never had the experience of travelling in Europe so I appreciate you're take on it. I don't have any loo stories...except that we had an outhouse until I was 5 or 6. I don't actually remember any stories but I would imagine it was pretty cold in the winter.

Peter H said...

The public toilets at the Larkin Bus Station at Johore Bahru in Malaysia are, undoubtedly, among the worst in Asia. Across all countries and standards of living, from long drops in rural asia to squat style asian porclain models to top upmarket hotels in the big cities.....THESE ARE THE WORST. Too gross to discuss, too smelly to be near!
And, I assure you, I have seen a lot of crappy toilets in Asia!

Such would be your lot, should you wish to consider moving to Malaysia.

Katrina said...

I have seen many toilets on 5 continents and BY FAR the worst ever were right there in your (current) home country...Pamplona, Spain during the running of the bulls. Waaay too many people, waaay too much alcohol, clearly completely stopped functioning hours/days before...that's all the description I can stomach.

mmichele said...

toilets in hollywood are rare and dirty.

oreneta said...

Diane, a pit with a floor length dress! Bet you stopped drink when you saw that.

Sirdar, prarie winter + outhouse = really good ability to hold.

Petr, duly noted, should we ever go to malaysia...not those toilets.

Katrina...eeeewwwww, I cn only start to imagine...gross.

Mmichele, did you break down and go to Micky-D's? They might be clean anyway....