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World’s Worst Toilet #9: Which would you prefer- Western or Asian?

worst toilet

Would you pick door # 1 or door #2?

If you’re a Westerner, sometimes the last thing you want to have to use is an Asian squat toilet.

…Unless the squat toilet is actually cleaner.

Asia has had it’s moments of enlightening me as to why squat toilets should be preferred. In theory, they can be more hygenic because your bum isn’t picking up bacteria  from the shared seats …or uh, other leftover bits.

I was eating at a cafe restaurant in Leh (Ladakh, India), when I had to go to the john. The waiter directed me outside to a place behind the restaurant.

There were two doors, neatly numbered 1 and 2.


It reminded me of the popular 80’s game show, the Price is Right, where the contestant got to choose between three doors, which contained mystery prizes like a car, money,… a toaster oven. But unlike the game show, I wasn’t thrilled to open the doors. Mystery doors in India predicted only worse and worser; and after my last toilet experience, the latter condition was definitely possible.

I swung open door #2.  A western toilet!

But then my ‘Yay‘ turned to ‘Yikes!’. The toilet was filthy as all hell and its seat was cracked, muddy and broken.  Flies were coming out, so I wasn’t about to enter and test the smell.

That left door #1.

I held my nose, rolled my eyes up, braced myself and swung the door open with dread…

squat toilet

squat toilet


Scrub brush, porcelain squatter, bucket of flush water… Not bad.

It was the best Indian public squat toilet I’ve seen on my entire trip!  India can test you.

Thank God in this case, for choices.


What are some of your worst experiences in a bathroom? Was it smell, size, cleanliness, technology, culture shock, meeting an experience different from the way you were raised? Share it…


  1. Violeta says:

    Ha ha! When I was little, squat toilets were quite popular in my country. They are, indeed, more hygienic, however one needs to be careful not to wet his shoes.

  2. Waegook Tom says:

    Ahh the squat toilet…still can’t figure it out all the time but hey…I do always feel “cleaner” after using it haha! But give me a toilet with fancy buttons and a bidet and dryer any day LOL.

    Plus, flies coming OUT of the toilet? I’d have avoided that, too…

  3. Yes! Sometimes the squatter is best! My initial joy at the sight of a Western toilet has often turned to dismay when I got closer….eeeeeek! And I’ve learned to carry TP wherever I ago, because that is rarely ever available!

    • @Audrey: One thing Korea is good at is getting us all to carry more TP! I see you’re getting the hang of it. Even tho I still shrivel when I see a squatter, I’m sometimes also relieved.

  4. debbie ann says:

    that is what I love about travel – before I left the US, I would’ve said, I would always choose a western toilet over a squat toilet, but guess what, wrong! I might choose to wait if I possibly could, but if I had to I would choose the squat toilet. Given certain circumstances many of the things you think about yourself can change.

  5. Furio says:

    Haha nice story as usual.

    so far my worst experiences with toilets have been in rural Tibet and Sichuan, where toilet are consistently disgusting.

    Not only they never clean it, it seems to me that people actually clean their ass with their hands (nothing new here) and then clean their hands on the walls of the toilet (nasty, I know).

    My theory is that at some point they destroy everything and build a new toilet in the same place ’cause this is the only way to clean it.

    Sometimes the smell is unbearable.

    It’s I have good experience with apnea…

    If you are wondering why people don’t just pee outside, well, this is tricky.

    When you are traveling on the middle of nowhere your bus driver will stop in his favorite spot every two/three hours so that his favorite toilet broker (the one that built the toilet in the mountains) will make some money by renting the toilet to the tourists.

    So they hate when you don’t use their nice toilet and will start to curse at you. You get tired of that.

    Guess next time I will just give them the money for the toilet and then pee outside anyway ; )

    • @Furio: Whoa! That is one enlightening look into Chinese toiletry culture shock! Wiping their hands on the walls? But aren’t they getting other peoples’ poo on their hands too? With all the things I hear about China’s toilets, I feel like I have less & less a desire to go.

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