September 26, 2006

Baffled by those baffled by bidets

Travelling has so many benefits, not the least of which is that it often makes you appreciate the things you would normally take for granted. Case in point: bidets.

For as long as I can remember, bidets played a vital role in my personal hygiene. We had built-in spouts in all our toilets at home, similar to the one in the picture below except without the apparatus on the side. The spout was piped in from under the inner rim of the toilet bowl. I am almost certain that all my friend's and relative's houses had them as well. Probably the only places that didn't have them were public restrooms. To me it was such a given that I barely even gave it a thought. They were just always there.

So when I was reading this article written by Terry Riley, a former columnist for Tripso, I had a flashback. I was travelling abroad for the first time and needed to answer a call of nature, (you know number two?). It was then that I first realized bidets weren't a standard fixture in other parts of the world. In fact, they were practically unheard of! Gack!

I was confused. How did these people clean themselves? Of course I know now there are ways, but I couldn't grasp it then. I couldn't see how you could achieve that level of clean without a bidet. It also struck me then how dependent I had become to this little convenience at home. But more importantly, it was disturbing. Shouldn't these be a necessity, rather than a luxury?

It was in Spain when I first discovered the other kind of bidet. You know, that bowl beside the toilet? My first thought was "Wow, how close must these people be to actually be able to poo at the same time?". And though I was eventually educated on the techniques of using one, I never mastered it. I didn't get it. It was just a faucet in a bowl. Did you fill up the bowl with water and then dip? That's not enough. I wanted jet stream action! Dry toilet paper alone doesn't do the trick. It was at this point that Wet Ones became my new best travel buddy.

Although I've lived in the Philippines all my life, I never used the tabo system for this purpose. It always seemed a little complicated to me and I didn't want to risk getting my hands dirty, so to speak. So I never bothered trying.

The Japanese, not surprisingly, have revolutionized bidets. They're so high-tech they come with control options allowing you to adjust the pressure of the water, the type of stream and in some models even the temperature of the water. Now, that is a luxury I can definitely live with!


Ellie said...

LOL! Loved this post, isn't it amazing how different toilets are across the globe? I still remember my first experience with a bidet...not to mention Korea's glorified hole-in-the-ground. I know which I prefer :P

Mila Tan said...

Lol, Nena, I love the post because it too made me think of all the different washing options and toilet situations I've gone through. I so know what you mean when you found out bidets are not de riguer. I've had friends from Europe who have visited me and ask why do you have a sprinkler in your toilet? And in China (where the hole in the floor is the norm, and there are enough horror stories in there to write a book), I used to have a balde with a bucket of water near the toilet which my German roommate used to wonder at.

When I'd fly to Nagoya on my way to the States, I used to know every single high tech toilet in the airport. I hear they've remodeled the airport though so I must go exploring soon. Press this button for air, press this button for warm oscillating water, and press this button for a pat on the tush (lol, I wish)

ana said...

tabo- the pinoy's bidet.
i remembered the tabo we had in california was the chips bucket from some casino in vegas.

rowena said...

I've read about those japanese bidets before---yo hi-tech!

Now after becoming accustomed to using one ever since moving here, I don't think I could ever live a bidet in my house. Never. I'll jump in the shower if need be!

rowena said...

oops..I meant live without a bidet!

Knittymommy said...

This post was hilarious! All the grown up's bathrooms in my lola's house had bidets. My cebu family members had the two seats pa. I know for a fact that bidets are almost unheard of here in the US. You cant even find one in Home Depot.

Can you believe I actually had to have a tabo sent to me from the Philippines ?

Anonymous said...

check out,
a travel blog with a recent short funny post about bidets.

better bidets, than holes on the ground in the Mainland

christine said...

Hi Ellie, yes, it's really interesting, the toilet habits of people around the world hehe. I know those holes-in-the-grounds all too well. I had my first horrible experience with one in Milan, of all places. And another time in Vietnam.

Mila, that's even funnier, "...a pat in the tush"! hehe

Anna, that's funny, the chips bucket? Talk about desperate, but genius. :)

christine said...

Mieke, I can totally believe that. My cousin had to bring one from Manila so we could use it in London. But I still haven't figured out how to use it for my butt, I would use it for other purposes. They're great!

Anonymous, thanks for the link! He read the same article. The link is here:
Thanks, I love travel blogs and I'm happy you've shown me another one. :)

Miri said...

Nena, My bita's bathroom had that separate bidet bowl and i always found it a bit hard to use. i guess you had to have a grown up butt to use it... :)cach and i would actually put like toys and stuff in it and flood the thing. although, i heared from my gyne that they are quite unsanitary (the ones with the metal built in, not the retractable ones) because the water stream can go to "other" places, so the best for me is still tabo or, hit the shower right after! cheers

christine said...

Mirs, I'm picturing you falling into the bowl (just like we women do when men leave the toilet seat up!) hehe.:) Ok, you have to explain the tabo thing to me someday so I could use it when there's nothing else.

Miri said...

Surely nens, with action, just for you :-0