you’re not sure how the toilet works. That was me in 2006 while we were in Korea to pick up our son. That trip to Korea was my first one out of the United States. So, if you’re a seasoned traveler, maybe this wouldn’t throw you. But it definitely threw me for a loop.
Before leaving I’d read that in some public toilets you have to buy toilet paper before you enter the stall. But no one prepared me for—the squat toilet.
Seriously, I had no idea how to use this contraption, so I left the bathroom without taking care of business. Thanks goodness for what my mother calls my “bionic bladder.” But next time I’ll be prepared even if it means doing lots of exercises to build up muscle tone.
Anyway, I digress. Not all toilets in Korea are squat toilets. The one I encountered was in the subway. But the guest house where we were staying had western-style toilets, although even here we found something a little different.
The entire bathroom was the shower. It had a toilet, sink, and shower head, but there was nothing separating the shower from the rest of the room. So every morning, we had to remember to remove the toilet paper before showering, otherwise you just had a soggy mess.
Then one of the restaurants we ate at also has western-style toilets but it had another interesting feature. It was a unisex bathroom with a stall on one side and urinal on the other. There wasn’t a sign alerting you to this fact (and even if there had been, could we have read it?). Fortunately we were eating early so I didn’t encounter any other patrons in the bathroom.
Apparently all of these things are fairly common in other parts of the world. But since I’d never left my corner of the world, I didn’t know and found it an interesting cultural difference. If you’re interested in reading more about the types of toilets you’ll find in Korean, the blog over at KoreanClass101.com has a great entry on it. You’ll find it here.