For when you gotta go
A while ago, I made a comment about the Travellerspoint icon shortening their name to just "TP" and it referring to toilet paper instead of their site name (I was in another rather goofy mood that night). I'm posting the following as a warning. Be forewarned, it's VERY TMI.
So. For the most part, I've been living quite the sheltered bathroom life here in Malaysia. I knew since touchdown at KLIA that squat toilets existed here in the city (I glimpsed one while in the line up in the women's bathroom), but was either fortunate enough to find a seated toilet or was able to hold it until I could use the facilities at home (if it meant not having to squat, I could definitely put up with wet feet in the potty). Even in Japan I employed this same tactic and survived the entire trip without giving my quads a workout.
Taking TP for granted
One of the first nights we were in KL, we met up with some of Marvin's friends for mamak (coffee) while I was still embarrassingly jetlagged. So much so that I forgot to pee before going out for drinks and munchies. For the first hour, it was fine. We ate, drank and chatted (well, the boys chatted, I stared blankly as I valiantly fought off the Lag) the time away. Then the Lag was put off a bit as my senses told me I had to wake to action. I had to pee.
At first, I tried to hold it. We were at a semi-decent establishment, but half of it was still open-air and that wasn't promising. Finally, I couldn't wait any longer and got up to find the bathroom. Marvin offered me change and tissues, but I optimistically waved them off. Following the signed directions, I found my way and opened the door.
For some reason, even without a shower in there, EVERYTHING was wet. Toilet seat, floor, hose, sink, everything. "That's okay," I thought, "I have shoes on, and I can hover over the seat." But then I noticed: no TP. Dammit.
Usually by then, I'd just give up and go back on my merry way to find the next or to wait it out, but there was no more room to wait. I found my way back to the counter and asked, "tissue?" A man disinterestedly pointed at the wall where I found a tissue dispenser there. I pulled as many tissue tickets as I could without being distracting and headed back to the task. It was after I finished and high-tailed it out of there that I grumbled to myself and wondered why there isn't any toilet paper in the restrooms to begin with? What did they expect one to do? Use their hands or something?
Then it dawned on me. That's what the hoses were for..omg... This whole time I'd ignored the hoses in the bathrooms, thinking they were in case anyone needed any emergency washing and in this case, they pretty much were. Ew.
Note to self: bring TP with you always.
Pees are not always free
Breakfast, lunch, and a trip to KL Central Market and it was finally time for a pee break. Being indoors in a fairly touristy location, I figured the toilets would be a little safer and more up to snuff for foreigners like me. However, before I could even enter to discover their condition I was blocked by a turnstile. 50 sens, please.
My experiences with paid toilets were much the same with squat toilets - I avoided them as best I could. But this time we were en masse so it would have been selfish to insist we move on so we had our bills broken into correct change, fed the turnstile, and headed on in. While this time there was TP available (though you had to ask for it on your way in) and the floors were not wet, there were no seats on the toilet bowls. Squatting ensued, but at least this time I wasn't afraid to touch anything.
Second note to self: carrying loose change may facilitate use of facilities.
You can't always get what you want
Our most touristy excursion was one out to the Batu Caves to climb the steps and see the shrines and temples. Having hydrated in anticipation for the hot day ahead, you can guess that it wasn't long before I had to go. And it wasn't. TP in one pocket, change in the other, I was ready to conquer the toilets...until I actually got inside.
They were ALL squats. There was no escaping this time. There were no other options and I'd already paid my 20 sens to enter. It had to be done. Saving most other details, I will just tell you that I set 2 goals for myself in those moments: don't fall over and don't pee on yourself.
My quads burned but my dignity remained. I'd never been prouder of myself for going potty since I'd been 3-years old.
Final note to self: just suck it up, buttercup.
Since then, I feel like I've graduated to a new class of world traveller; from prissy sitter to seasoned squatter. However, I'd definitely take dry floors and clean seat ANY DAY.