I Gave Myself a Golden Shower
Anyone who has travelled extensively throughout Asia will have had to adapt in varying degrees to the use of the squat toilet. Conditioned from a young age to sit upon a toilet throne in what can only be considered a luxury when faced with the eastern equivalent, our entire lives have been built around reclining in utter comfort for such an unseemly task. Alas, when venturing overseas, our poor, weak thigh muscles must learn to quickly adapt to this new method of squatting while urinating, or else face the turmoil of falling hands first onto a grimy toilet floor.
For the most part, I took like a duck to water when it came to my new squatting sessions, and much like learning the correct pose in a body pump class, my muscles learned to adapt when it came to using the toilet facilities whether I had on three layers of thermals or a backpack. After each successful attempt, I found I was mentally high-fiving myself while strutting out the cubicle with a smug smile of bathroom-accomplished satisfaction on my face. Sure, there might have been the occasional splash-back issue, but who hasn’t unintentionally guided a downward stream onto their vulnerable foot?
If not for the fateful events that occurred on a 48-hour train ride across China, I have no doubt that I would have successfully been able to implement the squat method into my everyday bathroom habits on home soil. But the fates had a different future in store for me that day, and instead of implementing a toilet style that would have impressed the most distinguished of dinner guests, I was instead mentally scarred for life by a jet of misdirected urine to the face. Romeo, you’re not fortunes only fool, my friend.
I had successfully been navigating this long-haul train ride with nay a foot out of place for the first 24 hours. From climbing up to the top bunk bed – which left merely centimetres of space between my nose and the roof – and becoming used to the stares directed my way when reading while eating, I would like to say that I made that Chinese train my bitch. However, it wasn’t until I climbed down from my top bunk, and locked myself into the gently swaying bathroom that everything changed.
Wearing my bathroom thongs and my most jazzy travel leggings, I successfully manoeuvred myself over the squat toilet and delicately worked my thigh muscles like I was trying to impress Michelle Bridges. Once in the perfect position, I let loose the green tea and water that had been building up all day into a perfectly arched stream directly down the squat hole. Then a slight jolt in the train caused the stream to momentarily misdirect to my foot. Panicking and without thinking, I jerked upwards causing the now out of control stream to hit the front of the squat toilet and splash directly onto my face.
Unable to stop mid-stream, I tried frantically to re-adjust, but it was for naught: the damage was done. Trying to re-squat mid-stream is a feat that should only be attempted by the most agile, and after weeks of dumplings, I was anything but. Like an out-of-control forest fire, the urine stream left a trail of destruction in its wake, attacking undergarments, pants and feet. There were no survivors.
Urine soaked and unable to access fresh clothes easily for another 48 hours, I hung my damp head in shame as I exited the toilet cubicle. Upon explaining the debacle to my wise travelling companion Laura, a look of disbelief spread across her face, her mind unable to comprehend how one person could create such a comedy of errors. I think she seriously doubted my tale, and if not for her pre-existing knowledge of my inability to successfully navigate life’s tricky moments, she might have stayed a disbeliever to this day.
Instead, she chose to spread my tale through the hallowed halls of backpacker rooms whenever a Never Have I Ever round of drinking games was played. Like a disciple to my Jesus, the story of my golden facial has no doubt instilled a sense of fear and awe in fellow travellers, who I hope take this cautionary tale to heart and re-think their actions when faced with a squat toilet on a moving train.
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Rowan still hasn’t finished War & Peace, but she did use it to balance her dinner once. Living in London, she’s steadily working her way through the Europe’s great cities and hopes to try every wine in England before her visa expires.