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Mount Orégano
Sue Burke
Turkish bathrooms 
13th-May-2010 01:35 pm
Let me see..



Turkish baths have earned fame for their relaxing and luxurious steam rooms. Turkish bathrooms lack fame through no fault of their own, yet a traveler may find them worth attention, as well as occasional visits.

During a trip to Istanbul in March, I learned that Turkish toilets come in two types: squat, and standard Western pedestal with built-in bidet, which I especially liked. In the photo, the toilet on the left was in our hotel room at the Holiday Inn Şişli in Instanbul, and the one on the right was at the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque.

You can find squat toilets in many parts of the world. I had already experienced them at a small café in Paris and at the feria in Córdoba, so when I paid a half-lira (about 70 US cents) at the Sultanahmet Mosque to use its services and encountered this plumbing variety, I knew what to do. You face the door, put your feet on the corrugated areas, bend your knees and hips, hold your clothes out of the way, and go.

Although flush squat toilets exist, this one had a small pail under a faucet in the stall to use to clean the basin when you're done. Some have rolls of toilet paper mounted on the wall, but at this mosque the attendant handed me some paper when I paid to enter. In either case, the used paper goes into a small wastebasket.

Since the Suntanahmet Mosque attracts a lot of tourists, many of the customers were also tourists, and I suspect that the public pay toilets may serve as a means to raise funds. As a former member of a church board, I approve, and I recommend this to other houses of worship that attract visitors. It takes a lot of money to keep up a beautiful building.

The second type, a pedestal or sit-down toilet, is common in the Western world and common enough in Istanbul, too, except for one thing. At the rear, as you can see in the photo, there's a sort of small nozzle. This is a built-in bidet. A handle on the wall turns on the water, which shoots out with uncanny accuracy to help you clean yourself.

It proved far more convenient and preferable to the French-style separate bidet common in Spanish homes, a porcelain pot that is really useful only for washing feet, and even then isn't ideal. But world travelers must adapt. Or else.

— Sue Burke

Comments 
13th-May-2010 02:10 pm (UTC)
China had squat toilets, too, and you had to bring your own toilet paper...and throw it out in a trash can.

Which I did not know, and I had my period. Sigh.

I still remember our bike group laughing in horror at the toilet on a French Train which just opened onto the track. I also recall us asking a Frenchman in the country where the bathroom was. He spread his arms and declared "Tous le monde" Apparently, the the French, all the world is a toilet. ;-)

13th-May-2010 07:03 pm (UTC) - Thank you!
This was useful and interesting.
13th-May-2010 09:31 pm (UTC)
Here from ysabetwordsmith...

I've been all over the Pacific and Indian oceans, and the traditional "western" toilet is pretty much standard in most places. But public toilets in Thailand gave me an education that wasn't too harsh?

It was a raised squat, but you only had a bucket of fresh water, and a bowl with which to wash yourself. Fair enough, and I'm already a country-boy with no qualms about taking care of dirty business, so it wasn't bad at all.

Then came Malaysia.

Now, apparently someone forgot to tell the Malaysians that the western sit-down toilets aren't supposed to be stood upon? Either that, or they were using them as "hover crappers", kinda inbetween a sit-down and a squat, with none of the accuracy of either. The ah...toilet scene from "Trainspotting" might have gained it's inspiration from this place.

The regular squat toilets, however, were spotless, and even had a proper hose for washing yourself! Which was just as well, seeing as I was not doing well after my swim in a churned-up ocean back in Phuket. Let's just say I was grateful that the back wall was tiled.

I've been looking for a proper bidet wand here in the US, and they're hard to find! At least good quality ones, anyway. I'd dearly love to ditch TP altogether, since it's such a wasteful expense.
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