I never thought we’d be making a LIKE IT on this subject, but when I was reading through my Tumblr messages the other day, I came across this question and thought ‘You know, maybe it’s time to talk about toilets in this country.’
Toilets are an important thing! And public bathroom situations are different everywhere you go in the world. You never want to get caught off guard somewhere without a toilet.
I’ll never forget this one time when Richard and I were traveling in Thailand and we got off a boat on one of the islands. We both had to use the bathroom, and there was one off to the left at the end of the dock. It was sort of an outhouse. Even before we went in, when we asked a local if there was a public toilet, he said yes but warned us it might not be that sanitary. I remember Richard brushing it off and just telling me to go if I really had to go. I did, and it still is to this day the most repulsive toilet I’ve ever used. Talk about hovering!
Or like this other time when we were in Cambodia when we visited Ankor Wat. We had to pay to use the special toilet at the Monk orphanage, where you had to pour a bucket of water in from a trough. It was clean, but without running water, and we still had to pay for it.
We’ve traveled in several countries in Europe together, and have had to pay with some small change to use the toilet in cafes, restaurants and other public facilities depending on where you are. It’s just the local custom.
Here in Korea, there really isn’t any paying, which is good. However, public bathrooms sometimes aren’t the easiest thing to locate when out and about in public. Most buildings will have a toilet, but are not always accessible to the general public. Restaurants will always have a toilet you can use, but it’s not necessarily inside the restaurant. Also, not all bathrooms have sitting toilets. Some have squatters and that’s all that will be available at a particular location. There are many other possible scenarios you could run into as well.
Korea even has its own toilet museum! It was founded by a guy who decided that he wanted to improve the sanitation in Korea and around the world! So, he started a movement to provide sanitary, easily accessible public toilets in Korea. He was so passionate about it that it carried on to not only Korea, but became a small international movement that I believe hit parts of Africa as well. To help draw attention to his cause, he actually built a house right here in Suwon where we lived that’s shaped like a toilet! And after he died, it was turned into a museum to continue to his memory, his cause and show the history of toilets in Korea.
Honestly Korea has a slight obsession with poop. You may notice a lot fo toilet scenes in dramas, and if you ever teach in Korea you may notice that a lot of children’s books have poop as the subject matter. Who would have thought?!?!!
Honestly speaking, toilets in Korea aren’t my favorite aspect of this place. And sometimes I find myself excited to use the bathrooms back in the US when I’m visiting. But really, they are not all that bad either, as long as you remember to bring toilet paper in with you, especially if you’re a girl.