So I've been reading other travel blogs, watching videos, and thinking a lot about all the various things I could say on my own dear little slice of internet real estate... but so far none have come to complete fruition. Instead, today I am going to inform you all about Indonesian bathrooms, 'cause I like to keep it classy AND informative.
If you know anything at all about stereotypes of Asia, one of the first is usually "scary bathrooms". Before I came here I was terrified just thinking about the rumored holes-in-the-ground with no toilet paper, lights, or hope of any kind to be seen. And while those kinds of bathrooms DO exist here, they are extremely easy to avoid and definitely aren't the norm! Indonesians/Asians appreciate comfort just as much as anyone else. The idea of comfort here is just slightly different.
In Indonesia there are two kinds of toilets: the squatter (as I like to call it) and your regular old Western model. In my house here there's the western kind, and you'll find a lot of them in public places like restoraunts and movie theatres, and in private houses.
But the squatter is the more traditional toilet, and if you're in the airport or other high-traffic public areas those will be the only option. They're more sanitary and low maintenance... I definitely prefer them while in public, because who even knows what butts have touched those Western toilets. If you want to know more detailed instructions on using squat toilets, Google it. Theres plenty of info out there.
What does this squat toilet look like, my Western readers might be thinking...
Beautiful ain't it. To flush you just scoop water from the bucket into the toilet until it's all clean again. Usually there is absolutely no toilet paper, you just use water from that bucket/a little handheld hose next to the toilet.
You can't really tell, but all the surfaces, except the wall, are soaking wet! That ties into the Indonesian idea of cleanliness. At first I was absolutely disgusted walking into a wet bathroom, but since there are always drains and the surfaces are mold-repellent, I realized that that was just a collision of cultural differences and adjusted my attitude about it. Now I don't even notice or mind the wetness of bathrooms.
Now onto the second most important part of a bathroom, the shower. Indonesians have this unique way of bathing which involves scooping out icy water from a big basin with a little plastic bucket and then washing up, using buckets of water as needed. It's pretty convenient, in a country where taking multiple showers in a day is considered more polite. You don't have to wet your hair if you don't need to and it's super easy to take three minutes and be done with it.
It's also really common for a Western kind of shower to be included too, and sometimes there's even hot water.
So there you have it folks, a small slice of the everyday cultural differences between Indonesia and the West. It's not so bad, if you can adjust your expectations. And if you have the luck to manage to avoid horror-story worthy bathrooms.
*Kamar mandi = room of bathing. IE bathroom.