I’d been in Thailand for nearly five days, and it wasn’t until we arrived in Chiang Mai (big city in northern Thailand) that I got a lesson in how to use the bathrooms.
“You mean you’ve been flushing toilet paper the entire time you’ve been in Thailand?!” Jeri my stepmother’s middle-aged best friend from Australian asked me with this look of shock.
“Of course, this is the 90s.” I said, giggling at the Clueless reference and the absurdity of the conversation.
“What do you think that little trashcan next to the toilet is for?” she asked again.
“Isn’t that for women’s sanitary stuff?” I asked.
The uncertainty in my voice grew as I received the piercing stares from Som and Qwan the two petite Thai housemaids shaking their heads no. They stood their unable to speak English, with their hands meekly clasped in front of their bodies with shoulders rolled forward making them appear even smaller than they were.
“What did you do in Koh Samui? In Bangkok? You flushed the paper?”
The conversation went back and forth a little longer until I was properly informed of the ruled to taking a shit in Thailand. So listen up! If and when you find yourself traveling in Thailand you’ll need to know what I’m about to tell you.
The short end of it is they don’t flush their toilet paper in Thailand. The pipes can’t handle it, and they get backed up, which I think we can all agree would ruin a vacation. Even in amazingly beautiful and sophisticated homes like this where we were staying.
So what do you do? Well, most toilets have these hoses (like retractable kitchen faucets) attached to the back of the tank, and you’re supposed to reach back and spritz your junk. Then you wipe with whatever paper you can find (Kleenex, toilet paper, newspaper, etc.) and then you toss it in the bin. In most accommodations the bins are tossed daily.
So after I got schooled like for a three-year old being potty trained we enjoyed a wonderful dinner cooked by Som and Quan. This is what we ate.
Fried ruby fish with crispy shallots and fried kafir lime leaves:
Green curry with chicken and mini Thai eggplant:
Wok fried morning glory (Pad bung fai daeng) with garlic and soy sauce:
And for dessert, because we asked them to make it and it’s awesome! We had fresh mango with coconut sticky rice. Also known at Khao Neow: