Growing up relatively sheltered, it wasn’t until I visited Europe in my late teens that I first encountered a squat toilet. At that time, the experience felt, I dare say, uncivilized. I seriously didn’t even know what to do. But then, while living in Taiwan, squatting somehow became my way of life, just as it is for over 1 billion people worldwide. While most squat out of necessity, some do so out of personal preference. The latter is certainly true in Taiwan, and true for me as well.
In Taiwan, squat toilets and sit toilets coexist. Most public restrooms offer both options. Early on, the squat toilet intimidated me. I will admit a certain degree of prissiness about the whole thing, which is really quite ridiculous if you know my past. At any rate, I was paranoid about silly stuff. For example – what if the cuffs of my pants brushed up against something very dirty? What if I didn’t align myself properly over the toilet? What if I lost my balance and my butt fell in? I actually came pretty close to that once while squatting on a moving train here in Taiwan. In truth, there have been a few other slip ups that I will never share on this blog, but the only true obstacle as a novice squatter was psychological.
When I first arrived in Taipei, squatting was a time consuming ordeal. In my mind, there were a series of steps required on my part before I could comfortably squat. First, I would roll up my pant legs. Then I would scan the stall for any obvious issues. Was the floor slippery? If the answer was no, I was good to go. If the answer was yes, why was it slippery? Was I willing to find out? Typically not and so began the process over in a new stall. So, by the time I fed my paranoia adequately and cleared the stall for use, precious minutes had rolled on by. I couldn’t figure out how everyone else got in and out so quickly but I knew there must be something special about these toilets since most people preferred to queue up for the squat toilets.
Not long after moving to Taipei, I was waiting in an especially long bathroom line in Taipei’s main transit station. I noticed that one of the sit toilets was available and so I waited for the American girl in front of me to move in on it. To my surprise, she turned and told me the sit toilet was all mine, explaining that she “couldn’t use those anymore.” What did that mean? Was she physically unable to sit on a toilet? That just couldn’t be. No, what she meant was that she was a squat toilet convert. At first, I didn’t understand; it took me a couple months to see the light and once I got over myself I realized that squatting just makes sense!
Here are the main reasons why-
1. Once you get the system down a squat toilet trip is quick and best of all you don’t have to touch anything!
2. No more dirty toilet water splash back.
3. No automatic flusher catching you at an unexpected moment.
4. No mysterious urine dribble on the toilet seat (due to someone who tried to squat! Ha! See! Even if you don’t think you want to squat, you really do!)
5. The squat position is quite natural, and as many argue, better for overall bowel health.
6. Putting my toosh on something, even with the proper protection, that someone else has put their bare butt on is really kind of gross. If I have the option, I choose not.
7. People, for the majority of human history have squatted. I put my faith in that.
Taipei is such an interesting place. So much of the old, and so much of the new. Don’t like squatting? Try out this bidet!