Russian Toilets — Русские Туалеты
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I've been to the former Soviet Union a number of times — after a number of weeks in Russia, the toilets of the Baltic nations are like the promised land. Actually, after a number of weeks in Russia, pretty much everything about the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania is like the promised land. Also see the discussion of the Teutonic/Soviet "inspection shelf".
Here are a few of the many Russian toilets I have encountered. First, though, let's handle some important logistics:
|Where is the toilet?||Где находится туалет?|
This toilet is in a ward hallway in Hospital #122 in the Name of Sokolov, on the northern edge of Sankt Peterburg, Russia.
Note the open plumbing chase. It is used by patients to dispose of empty vodka bottles, newspapers, and cigarette butts. Many plumbing chases in the hospital have experienced minor flue fires.
This toilet and shower are in a dorm room in the postgraduate nursing school associated with Hospital #122 in the Name of Sokolov, Sankt Peterburg, Russia.
Notice the roll of Russian toilet paper at left, much less rare now than back in the bad old Soviet days.
Immediately post-breakup, one of only two toilet paper factories in the entire USSR had been in Latvia. That meant that the remaining pieces of the Soviet empire lost that valuable resource in the first wave.
Russian TP quality has greatly improved by the time I got there. But during one work trip I needed sandpaper to finish some plaster repair, and a Russian asked if the local TP would suffice.
It was often hard to tell when the Russians were being ironic.
This is a public toilet in a train station in Moscow, Russia.
Note the standard Russian lack of seat, just a refreshingly cool porcelain bowl. It's especially bracing during those chilly Russian winters.
Also notice the prison-style door. It's far scarier in person, as there is no lighting and one experiences the fear of the unknown.
Bring a flashlight! Or a camera with a flash.
At right is a staff toilet in Hospital #122 in the Name of Sokolov, in Sankt Peterburg, Russia.
Note, once again, the standard Russian lack of seat and the complete lack of lighting other than flash photography.
Also note the non-perpendicular door frame. That's Soviet craftsmanship....
At left is a Russian passenger car on the Moscow-Sankt Peterburg line.
Many Russian train toilets have weak or broken springs on the trapdoor at the base of the bowl, providing a view of the tracks rushing past underneath and a refreshing breeze.
There's no toilet paper in this compartment, although there is a wire brush in a small bucket....
This Latvian passenger car on the Riga-Tallinn line was built in Russia, back in the days of the Soviet Union.
|Latvian Toilet Logistics|
|Where is the toilet?||Kur ir tualete?|
Notice the footpads. Most Soviet rail cars were built to all-USSR standards. This feature was for Central Asian use.
Lower the seat and it's a raised throne. In the configuration shown, it's an elevated squatter.
The tricky part is staying perched up there as the train sways through erratic Soviet-era rail joints, especially on the largely unmaintained Russian rail lines.
The exposed plumbing may provide adequate hand grips for those trying these advanced techniques, although someone in our group working at the hospital in Sankt-Peterburg was sent flying with semi-disastrous results during just such an attempt.
|A Sani-Flush blue border indicates a toilet, sink, shower, or other plumbing that I've used.|
How long have my Toilets of the World pages been around? They started in the mid 1990s as a single page on a Purdue University server. The Internet Archive Wayback Machine lets you see what that looked like as far back as January 17, 1999.
My cromwell-intl.com domain appeared in September, 2001, although the Wayback Machine didn't notice its one enormous Toilet of the World page until January 17, 2002. Some time soon after that I split it into categories, and the collection has grown ever since.
In December, 2010 I registered the toilet-guru.com domain and moved the pages to a dedicated server.
If you're not bored yet, you might be interested in The Toilet Guru's travel suggestions.
Rose George's The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters is a fascinating description of sanitation conditions around the world. "2.6 billion people don't have sanitation. [....] Four in ten people have no access to any latrine, toilet, bucket, or box. [....] Poor sanitation, bad hygiene, and unsafe water — usually unsafe because it has fecal particles in it — cause one in ten of the world's illnesses. [....] Diarrhea — nearly 90 percent of which is caused by fecally contaminated food or water — kills a child every fifteen seconds. The number of children who have died from diarrhea in the last decade [1998-2008] exceeds the total number of people killed by armed conflict since the Second World War.
In September 2009, Morna Gregory and Sian James published a book titled Toilets of the World. It's pretty much the same theme that you find here — photographs and commentary on other people's plumbing.
Latrinae Et Foricae: Toilets in the Roman World describes the toilets of the Roman Empire from Iberia to Syria, and from North Africa to Hadrian's Wall in Britannia.
Toilets, Bathtubs, Sinks, and Sewers: A History of the Bathroom, explains the history of personal cleanliness and hygiene to children in grades 5-8.
The 2009-2014 Outlook for Wood Toilet Seats in Greater China is an econometric study of the latent demand outlook for wooden toilet seats across greater China. It's a gripping tale!
Dec 2013. Created with