The strange places we lay our heads
- Laos edition

Nong Kiaw, Northern Laos

While 10 000 kip($1.04) got me a room in a guesthouse with a million dollar view, I really began to notice the cost cutting measures in the common bathroom. As a service to anyone who may one day find themselves in such a facility, I present you with " Six steps to success in a Lao bathroom. "

1. With months of practice, balancing on the throne will present no difficulty, though to novices I recommend removing all apparel. This to reduce the number of tasks you must immediately master. Squatting on slippery wet porcelain is hard enough, rapidly adjusting your posture once you realize you are soiling your clothing is a recipe for disaster.

2. Flush by using the scoop to pour water down the toilet

3. Use the same scoop to rinse toothpaste from your mouth. A recommended alternative is to bring your own water.

4. (not pictured)Put your store of toilet paper in a safe place. The 'shower' is about to commence and wet TP is ruined TP. Many locals simply splash and drip dry. Should your toilet paper be sodden this method will work but don't be barbaric - use your left hand exclusively.

5. Take a deeeep breath and pour icy cold buckets of water over yourself. Lather up. Rinse. Many Southeast Asians maintain that washing regularly with cold water is good for the health and complexion. I maintain that it's bad for getting clean as I CANNOT STAND cold water.

6. A pair of rubber sandals will stand you in good stead - this is often the cleanest floor of the establishment.

~ Nigel
02.22.02

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