Expat Life: A Bit of Useful Information for the New Year
Those of you who were reading this blog last year at New Year may remember that, as a New Year's gift to my readers, I provided some good advice about not scheduling flights to the US less than 48 hours after returning from Thailand, based on my own unfortunate experience.
While this advice was not wise or soulful, I think we can all agree that it was practical.
It is in this spirit of practicality, then, that I would like to continue the tradition of providing my readers with a useful (and lavatory-related) tidbit of advice with which to start off the new year - specifically for my female readers who may someday find themselves in Seoul.
It is this:
These facilities are technically much more hygienic (the user never touches it - you even press the flush handle with your foot) although they take a bit of getting used to. Some Westerners prefer to avoid them if possible, although many of us don't care either way.
Most newer buildings (and all apartments that I have seen) have Western-style toilets. However,
you may still run across squat toilets in public facilities - parks, subway and train stations, some museums and government facilities.
So here's the deal: in many of these washrooms, the user has a choice between a Western and and Eastern-style experience, and may choose her preferred fixture by observing markings on the doors of the stalls:
|Western-style toilet within|
|squat-style toilet within|
Yes, gentle readers, the doors are marked to indicate the types of toilet you will find in the stall. Since it never occurred to me in a million years to give more than a fleeting glance at the door of a toilet stall - except to notice whether or not the lock said, 'occupied.' - I had been living in Seoul for almost a year before I became aware of this. I am not proud of my lack of observation, but at least I know now, and can pay it forward.
I have no idea if these symbols are used in other parts of Asia - if so, I haven't run across them. But if you are female and find yourself in Seoul and have a preference one way or the other, at least you'll know what the symbols mean and can make your choice accordingly.
Happy New Year.