foreign toilet

We’ve Got it Made in the US: Plumbing in Other Countries

If you’ve traveled much outside the US or even seen Slumdog Millionaire you’re aware plumbing outside the states is a bit…different. Here are a few notable ways in which plumbing has evolved over the years and a few reasons to be thankful you (and your posterior) live in the United States where you’ve got access to things like plentiful toilet paper and reputable plumbers like the guys at Pell Plumbing.

The Chinese Throne: Discovery of a working toilet complete with seat and armrests dating from around 3000BC in China proves the Chinese have the knowledge to build a great toilet. So why do most toilets in modern-day China consist of little more than a hole in the floor? Many Asian cultures believe relieving oneself in a squatting position is actually good for the body…try telling that to any Westerner vacationing in Beijing. Chinese toilets feel more like camping than “rest” rooms.

India’s Pay System: Public toilets first came into play in India around 1550AD when they were installed by the then king. They quickly became, of course, an eyesore (and a nose-sore) to the public space due to poor cleaning practices and use. Today in India public toilets are a private affair with national companies installing public toilets in major cities that can be used for a fee – usually around 25 cents. The government is hands off and the system is privatized so citizens know which “brand” is best but as expected, the toilets are often filthy and barely functioning. Facilities range from above-ground outhouse style buildings to permanent brick-and-mortar buildings.

The European Solution: While Europe is leaps and bounds ahead of the aforementioned Asian toilets (from an American point of view) their facilities still pose a few problems. One of the more common complaints from foreigners is the lack of standardization – the flush handle can be anything from a lever to a button to a pedal on the floor. The Chinese squatting-style toilet makes a few appearances in Italy and Greece to much chagrin and facilities are often unisex which sometimes leaves ladies appalled. Then again, France is a country that brought us the bidet and the first-ever national toilet law wherein residents must have proper restrooms in their homes.

Squeamish or not, using the restroom in a foreign country is a great way to feel grateful for home. America has its problems but isn’t it nice to know any nearby McDonald’s has at least two functioning toilets AND toilet paper?