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The Bottom End of Travel

Jul 15, 2008
Carole is very fastidious. The only public bathroom she will use willingly is the one in Trump Tower in New York. Therefore one of her great joys as we sailed around the world, was that being in our own boat, Dolphin Spirit, allowed her to carry her own toilet along, and avoid using ones that did not meet her exacting standards.

I look at it differently. How can you say that you have experienced the local way of life if you haven't used a local toilet. Thinking of Turkey brings into mind the flush-and-leap-for-the-door-to-avoid-a-soaking public facility at the midnight bus stop on the way to Cappadocia. Sudan is, of course, the almost solid wall of odor that opposed entry into the toilet we were allowed to use at Secret Police headquarters, where we were taken after being arrested. "Invalids and English Only," read the sign on the door to the cubicle that featured a seat instead of the normal hole in the floor that served all others in this bathroom in Spain.

A word about Indonesian toilets. Where there are toilets, they are simply a hole in the ground with places for the user's feet on either side. The whole (I can't help myself) is generally made of plastic. Flushing is carried out by dipping water (can provided) out of a built-in, open-topped tank next to the toilet. Even the occasional seat-type toilet is flushed the same way.

The restaurants in that country, even those in the major hotels, have at least one hand basin in the dining room. This seems to me to be an excellent innovation, particularly if all you want to do is wash hands before eating, as dining rooms smell better than toilets, regardless of country.

Many European countries have the unique requirement that toilet paper is not, under any circumstances, to be deposited into the toilet. Used TP must be put into the waste baskets that are next to the pedestal. Apparently this is because the pipes won't handle the overload paper would entail. After several blockages on Dolphin Spirit caused by visitors' excess use of TP (Six sheets maximum was my rule, but enforcing it was a problem.), I seriously considered implementing this practice, but visual, olfactory and disposal realities intervened.

Our tent safari camp in Kenya provided a piece of canvas draped around a box over a hole drilled into the ground. A small shovel was provided so that a layer of dirt could be added to make the next occupant's sojourn a little more pleasant. As a small side note, having a lion roar, apparently just on the other side of that very thin canvas, is better than any laxative known to man.

Almost every hotel, one star or better, in every country, appears to have standardized on the regular pedestal, and allow TP to be deposited in it, probably as a result of the complaints of the all pervasive American tourist. This is a good thing, because if you don't eat right, you may spend a lot of time on one.
About the Author
Lawrence Pane circumnavigated with his wife and young son, and his expertise in the areas of sailing, cruising and travel, expressed through two books, numerous magazine articles and very popular seminars, has informed, assisted and entertained a wide audience of sailors and non-sailors. Visit Chasing Sunsets to enjoy the photos, buy the books, and check up on coming seminars.
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