So many times, there are funny things that happen here. If I wrote a blog for each of them, I would be blogging almost everyday. But, I found my recent bidet blunder worth sharing… mostly because we don't commonly find bidets in the States, and although they are great inventions, do have mishaps on occassion.
It was a Saturday afternoon. One of my friends and I stopped in a new coffee shop to it down for a warm drink and study Korean. I had to use the restroom so I asked the lady at the counter where it was. She pointed me in the right direction & I was delighted by it's decor. Wait, wait wait… let me insert some interesting facts about restrooms here.
You actually never know what you'll be running into when it comes to restrooms here. First of all, they don't flush their toilet paper! Yes, you read correctly, they simple wipe, and throw it into a small trash bin (that is usually overflowing) next to the toilet. NASTY!! Admitedly, I do it too. I don't at home, of course, but I respect the fact that these are the customs and the reason behind it is that they don't install the normal tp choppers inside their systems like we have in the States so flushing the paper will cause bigger plumbing issues. Now, if you ask me, I think it is WELL worth the investment but Koreans don't so I accept it and move on. However, I do tend to draw the line with "# 2" … but that is probably more information that you wanted…. but isn't the whole used toilet paper thing TMI anyway!?!
Another "suprise" one may find when 'venturing off to the restroom here is a squatter toilet. Here is a picture of the squatters in my school. For the first 4 months, I didn't even know that sit-down (Western style) toilets existed in my school- besides the forbidden handicapped ones near my classroom. (No, I wasn't allowed to use them b/c, "You are not 'special,' Kasham. Those are for the 'special' students.") I didn't know the proper direction to face while using them either until about 3 months in… I finally found someone I was comfortable enough asking. She had a good chuckle and was sincerely amazed that I didn't know how to use one, but showed me… Turns out, I had been facing the wrong direction– imagine that! hahaha
Going back to toilet paper… often times, there is not any toilet paper in the stalls. (check the photo above) You have to remember to get it from the large roll near the sinks when you come in, or like I do, carry some in your purse because often times, there isn't any toilet paper offered at all.
So, in the States, we have seperate rooms for women and men. Well, in Korea, like most things (clothes, shoes, purses, etc), restrooms are unisex. That's right. A woman can enter the same room and pee right beside some guy at a urinal. Yes, it makes for awkward situations. Fortunately, most of the toilets or squatters have stalls around them. Of course, seperate rooms do exist and are common, but shared restrooms are almost as equally common.
Alright, so let's resume the bidet blunder story…. I went into the restroom, a male/female shared one, and sat down. "Sweet!" I thought, "This one has a bidet!" I have come to enjoy Korea's electronic bidets. Some places with sit-down toilets also have electronic bidets. Now, the bonus of these things is that the seat is warm too! VERY nice in the winter. lol.. Anyway, there are buttons to push to operate each function~ that was an adventure in the intial months of being here, trying to figure out what each button does. So, I go to the restroom and decide to enjoy the washing. lol– Suddenly, I feel water streaming down my leg! "Oh no!" [I actually did say that out loud] So I push my pants down to my ankles (as to avoid the water running onto the pants) and lift my legs up. Now, you can imagine the images this provided. But, as I lift my legs, water is now shooting out (between the seat lid and the actual toilet) and hitting the door in front of me. I get my bearings– not half laughing hysterically and half in a panic knowing that this could get disasterous– and find the stop switch. I recover my sitting position after using some toilet paper to dry my legs. Finish up and exit the bathroom. Fortunately, only minimal amounts of water ended up on my pants. I had to tell my friend about it as I was not only still laughing but clearly took longer than necessary in the restroom. Who ever thought using the restroom could be so adventurous!?!