We were on the air-conditioned minibus traversing from Vietnam’s Hoi An passing through smaller city Qui Nhon on the way to Nha Trang. We kept to the bigger cities and the cleaner rest stops. I was also lucky to have stayed in hotels with “western-style” toilets but it seemed like my luck had run out.
After a few hours of bumping over the road, our English-speaking guide told us that we were heading to a rest stop, and with a slightly bigger grin than usual, he announced that these bathrooms would not be the toilets we would expect. A collective gasp and groan came from the group and I double checked my day pack for the pack of tissues I was instructed to bring “just in case.” Boy, did that “just in case” incident happen to occur now.
I sped-walk to the ladies room and both me and my new travel buddy, Christina, found empty stalls next to each other. We both stopped after flipping the door open and looked at each other wide-eyed because besides the regular squat toilet, there was a ceramic basin the size of a small tub filled with water and a small plastic hand-bucket floating atop. There was also a nozzle and hose contraption next to the wall that was similar to the one they have in kitchen sinks. We stared at each other and started giggling out of nervousness. “When you gotta go, you gotta go!”, I said with spirit and she just grimly nodded. I slammed the door to the stall, feet astride the basin platform, rolled up my cargo pants to my knees, unbuckled and assumed the bent knee position over the hole in the ground.
I reached for my tissues and noticed the large tattered note taped on the door with the words,”NO TISSUE.” With an eyebrow raised, I remembered the little plastic nozzle attached to the wall next to me. I grabbed it and a shower of water shot out spraying the wall. I giggled and thought hey, when in Rome! Oh. Hm...not too hot or cold. A little refreshing perhaps. Another spritz and I wiggled my rump left to right like a newborn puppy wiggling out of its owner grasp and pulled up my pants. I searched for the string atop the ceiling to flush like squat toilets I read about online and all my guidebooks but there was none. How the heck do you flush?!?! I quickly panicked for about 2.5 seconds and then made the distinction that I was supposed to hand-flush this thing. I grabbed the hand-held wash bucket and poured the water from the water basin to the toilet. The water quickly swirled and disappeared down the hole and I deemed my first third-world bathroom experience a success.
I opened the door and strutted out feeling like a big girl. Until my tour guide saw me and coyly gave me a bigger grin than before, “Those are the clean squat toilets on the trip.”