I’ve read lots of horror stories about Asian toilets (i.e., the notorious squat toilet), but none about Asian showers. By this I mean a shower that has no tub, curtain, or any other kind of separation from the rest of the bathroom. You turn on the water and, voila, the whole bathroom gets wet! I’ve experienced this personally in Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey.
An open shower/ bathroom in Cappadocia, Turkey
Another open shower/ bathroom in Taiwan
I know I’m showing my ignorance as a Westerner, but I just don’t get this kind of shower. It seems very impractical. You can’t leave much in the bathroom (clothes, towels, etc.) because it will constantly get wet. Unless the shower drain works perfectly, you will have a small flood in your bathroom every time you shower. When the water finally does drain out, it leaves a ring of hair, lint, and other nasty stuff on the floor. It promotes the growth of mold and mildew. Plus whenever you go into the bathroom to use the toilet, you’ll step in a wet, icky mess.
I guess it’s cheaper to build bathrooms this way, but I don’t think it would take much to add a curtain and some kind of recess in the floor for the shower area. I saw a bathroom like this in Thailand, and it worked pretty well.
What do you think about the Asian shower? Is there a trick to using it? Are there advantages to it I’m not seeing? Or does it bother the heck out of you?
My traveling companion and I rented a motorbike in Koh Phangan, a beautiful island in the Gulf of Thailand. I mean that he rented the motorbike – I just held on for dear life. I got used to it after a while, and it was a good way to see the island, but what I really liked about it were the passengers it attracted. These were cute, friendly island dogs, and it looked like they were well taken care of. But the best thing about them is that they are scooter-trained. Yes, you read that right. It happened twice that, while our bike was stopped, a random dog would get on the platform and stand there, waiting for us to take him or her . . . somewhere. They know exactly where to stand for balance and are expert hitchhikers.
The first time was this dog, a beautiful white one. Since we were caught off guard, we eventually forced her to get off – but not before posing for a few pictures.
We thought it was a fluke, but later that day another dog got on our motorbike and did the same thing. This one was also much more stubborn, and we couldn’t have gotten her off without really pushing. So we started driving – very slowly – with her on it. She was really good about it too, staying completely still, tongue flapping in the breeze. Every once in a while we would stop and make it clear to her that she could get off. At one point we stopped next to another stray dog, thinking she would like company, but they started growling at each other so we hightailed it out of there. She got off to stretch her legs when my companion stopped to look at something, but hopped right back on when he mounted the bike. She finally left us for good when we got to the major town of Thongsala, where there was a pack of stray dogs to welcome her. We guess this is a normal way for them to get around the island – hitching a ride with humans!
There are lots of other friendly animals in Koh Phangan. Take, for example, the cat who joined us for dinner at our hotel.
And this lovely lizard.
And don’t forget the elephants!
No, this elephant does not have a disfigured trunk, it just looks that way.
I read The Beach by Alex Garland recently, since it’s about finding an island paradise close to Koh Phangan in Thailand, where I went last month. I thought these three quotes about travel were pretty brilliant.
“I don’t like dealing with money transactions in poor countries. I get confused between feeling that I shouldn’t haggle with poverty and hating getting ripped off.”
A tenement in Bangkok
“On that trip I learned something very important. Escape through travel works. Almost from the moment I boarded my flight, life in England became meaningless. Seat belt signs lit up, problems switched off. Broken armrests took precedence over broken hearts. By the time the plane was airborne I’d forgotten England ever existed.”
Ready to escape!
“Collecting memories, or experiences, was my primary goal when I first started traveling. I went about it in the same way as a stamp collector goes about collecting stamps, carrying around with me a mental list of all the things I had yet to see or do. Most of the list was pretty banal. I wanted to see the Taj Mahal, Borobudur, the Rice Terraces in Banave, Angkor Wat. Less banal, or maybe more so, was that I wanted to witness extreme poverty. I saw it as a necessary experience for anyone who wanted to appear worldly or interesting. Of course witnessing poverty was the first to be ticked off the list.”
My travel checklist
Do you have any favorite travel quotes?