The Toilet Letters
I'm just a guy who takes some odd pictures while traveling
and then puts them on a web site that really started out
as a one-page joke on another site.
But there is so much interest in toilets on the Internet
that it's well worth my while to maintain this page for
the advertising revenue.
See my page about
my trip to see Adolf Hitler's toilet
for a more detailed discussion, but the short version is that
this is not a full-time job or a part-time obsession
But for other people...
I get a lot of messages from people who spend far more time thinking about toilets than I do. Or who come up with some unexpected questions. Here is a collection of the Toilet Letters.
Unfortunately, I long ago deleted the message sent by some frenzied correspondant describing in some detail the world-wide trend of disappearing public urinals.
It was supposedly due to some sinister cabal of militant feminists, environmentalists, and communists, which were merged into one fuzzy category in the worldview of my rather paranoid correspondant. Now I save my toilet-related mail and highlights appear here.
I must point out that I have slightly edited a few of the messages to replace non-clinical terminology. Not to be a prude, but this information is obviously valuable and needs the widest possible dissemination. Some casual toilet terminology will be blocked by the content-blocking filters, so I have made some minor changes.
Some of the most bizarre mail is from various industrial and aviation concerns around the world who see that I have taken some photographs of toilets, so therefore I must be a good source of aircraft lavatory parts, auxilliary fuel tanks, industrial valves, and so on.
The category of inappropriate requests for quotes and my strange responses has finally reached the point of getting its own collection of pages. Click here to see people wanting me to ship stainless steel lavatory equipment to Zambia, or to ship teflon-lined cast-iron values suitable for 80-90% sulphuric acid to Pakistan, or to dig a set of pits at the Bahrain airport, or to supply auxiliary fuel tanks in Peru, and so on.
Then there are people like Jim Park, firstname.lastname@example.org, who wanted a "costom soap manufacture company [.... or] any company making a soap". Or Robert Smith, email@example.com, who wanted to purchase "toilets in bulk with no names on them" to then retrofit some odor-removing modification and resell them.
Pay attention, people — I have taken a few pictures of foreign toilets, I don't really deliver plumbing supplies worldwide!
Or "Paula Grulee Designs", firstname.lastname@example.org, an interior decorating company in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, with "a client that is looking for a toilet incased in wood." Beyond their spelling difficulties, they seem unaware that I DON'T SELL TOILETS despite saying on this page that I DON'T SELL TOILETS. The rest of you, feel free to send these people a note...
Or, inventors like John Giamis, email@example.com, who has "just been issued a patent for a toilet design that will revolutionize the industry. It is new and dynamic." Nor do I represent the toilet-manufacturing industry! I have, however, attempted to put some of these people in touch with each other.
Then there was Mohammed al Faour <firstname.lastname@example.org> who contacted me on behalf of his company. They wanted me to submit a quote for being their subtractor to build a series of lavatory service pits at the Bahrain airport. Nor do I undertake major construction jobs in the Middle East — I am simply a person who has taken some pictures of toilets.
I do have a page with these odd requests and my rather detailed responses, if you are into toilet-related nonsense.
Table of Contents
Best. Letter. Ever.
Mike wrote from California State University, Chico:
Dude, Bob..you are the shit man.. I smoked a joint and spent so much time on your website just reading. Loved the toilets from around the world haha. Very entertaining website!
In about the second best letter ever, Julie wrote:
Hello!!! I'm a dedicated toilet guru reader! I just wanted to thank you, from the bottom of my heart for your existence. Ever since I was about 3 years old, I've been terrified of toilets. Stemming from an incident where I locked myself in a bathroom and proceeded to "fall" into the toilet and was literally stuck until my mother came to my rescue. My fears of toilets has kind of made me relate to toilets in a different way than most. Ex; if I don't feel "safe", I will refuse to go. (Held it in for over 24 hours one time!) Toilets that are strange, has constantly running water and ones that are automated are definitely on my NONO list. Flash forward to now, I'm an adult (sometimes) and I love to travel! Eastern Europe will be my first trip out of the USA, so naturally I googled "European train toilets" to see what I was going to get into. Until that point, I NEVER knew a squat toilet existed. I was absolutely fascinated (and terrified) about the prospect of running into these on my journey. However, had I not stumbled upon your website, I would have been utterly surprised by the discovery of these toilets for the first time in the real world. Thank you very much for showing me/the world, about how there are much different toilets out there. You helped my toilet fears ease a little bit by mentally preparing me for what I will most likely encounter abroad. Had I never came across your website, I most likely would have shit myself upon opening a bathroom door to a squatter. Thank you again for existing on this world. Thank you for helping me somewhat confront my fears.
How do I clean myself with/without water?
How does one clean oneself in an Indian toilet?
From: "Neil Pharazyn" email@example.com Subject: Toilets of the World Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2000 10:23:31 +1200 Can you help. I am surfing the web to find how exactly to clean myself after going to the toilet in India. We are visiting there later this year and I thought it would be a good idea to know the precise technique in advance. Can you advise - or direct me to a web site that does so? Most sites seem to be humourous. I know that most/many toilets are a "hole in the floor". I understand that I place my feet either side and suspend myself (Are their hand supports?). When I clean up do I pour water from a bottle over my backside then reach around and rub my anus with my fingers until it feels clean? Is it obvious that it is clean? Do I need to pour water several times? It seems to me that my hand [esp. under fingernails] must get very filthy, visibly or invisibly so. So presumably there is a wash basin, soap and towel. For fat people the above must be a real balancing trick. I imagine that poor Indians don't have a washbasin, soap and towel. I wonder how clean the hands are of staff preparing food in the hotel where I stay. Thanks in advance Neil Pharazyn New Zealand
How does one clean oneself with a ladle without causing a flood? (and how about a video?)
Hi Bob, I was on the USNS Mercy for six weeks in 2010 and encountered these toilets. They varied, but consistently were the foot pads on the floor with the hole between, a large basin (usually with running water) and a ladle. Never any toilet paper. I did read over your web site, but I am still mystified as to how you use the ladle to clean yourself without getting all wet and/or falling over. And, without paper, how do you remove any stubborn fecal material? I believe that people there use their left hand for this purpose, but logistically I am still confused. Fortunately, we made our way back most nights to the ship which had normal/Western toilets. Interestingly enough, the Indonesians, that were on the ship with us, were appalled that they had no water to cleanse themselves and were shocked that anyone would use paper on their private parts. They also tried to squat with their feet on the toilet seats which led to some amusing pictorial instructions on the bathroom doors. Do you have a link somewhere on your site explaining how to use the ladle and basin of water? I am not joking, a training video would be really helpful. Valerie
An unexpected question from Kate the Constipated
Here is one of the least expected questions, from a girl named Kate:
I visited Italy 3 years ago and had no idea that some restaurants had in-ground toilets. I was just aghast when I went into the john, but eventually figured it out. I just have one question that I couldn't find an answer to: What does one do about a big bowel movement that won't fit the diameter of the pipe?
Egads, I don't know what you're eating.... All the squat toilets I have seen have a drain pipe that's 3 to 4 inches in diameter and drop straight into a large-diameter gooseneck. That's going to be FAR larger than anything coming out of a human. Most new US toilet designs have a sort of double-S vapor-lock drain pipe that's maybe 2" in diameter. You can usually see the shape of much of that by looking to the side at the rear of the toilet, at least on many of the newer designs. The US design is going to be much more likely to get stopped up, especially the new "low flow" models. The only ones worse about flushing are the German "inspection shelf" models.
She then responded with far more information than I was looking for:
I am notorious for stopping up toilets. It doesn't happen every day, about once a month. It's almost always after I've eaten a large meal the night before or if I've been constipated. Three weeks ago was the first time I clogged up a commercial toilet at work. I finally got the stool down after 3 tries, but it overflowed. Thank goodness I didn't have to go no. 2 in Italy.
She didn't have a bowel movement the entire time she was in Italy?? I think I have an idea about the cause of her problem! And wherever she went next, their national plumbing was probably defeated.
Various and sundry tales about toilets from readers
Why British toilets have large flush levers
From: Tristram Grevatt Subject: British WCs Date: 19 November 2011 20:11 I was intrigued your toilet-guru site. In case you haven't had goodness-knows-how-many responses to your page at https://toilet-guru.com/britain.php, here's why you found the flush levers to be so large in Britain. Your hunch was quite right: the flushing mechanism in most lavatory cisterns (as I would call the toilet tank) in the UK is very different to the system used elsewhere in the world. Most countries, including the USA, use a simple flap flush valve in their cisterns: twitching a small lever or pushing a button lifts a plug out of the bottom of the tank, like the stopper in a sink. Most British cisterns are syphonic: inside the tank there is an inverted U-tube connected to the flush pipe at one end and a larger chamber at the other. Inside the chamber is a disc, and this disc is connected to the flush lever. Pulling the lever lifts the disc, forcing water into the U-tube and down the flush pipe. This starts a syphonic discharge of the water in the cistern, which stops when the cistern is empty and air enters the U-tube. There's a diagram here http://www.users.waitrose.com/~ttagrevatt/vlav/works_cisterns.html#standard (I know, weep at the tedium) It takes more force to raise the disc and force the water into the syphon tube than to lift the stopper out of a valve cistern, so that's why British loos have bigger levers. We have these syphonic cisterns because, until 2000, flap valve cisterns were banned in the UK. When the valves fail, or if people tie down the flush levers, a lot of water can be wasted - and that was a huge problem in the early days of WCs when water supplies were stretched by the demands of this new device. Flush valves direct from the mains into the bowl were also banned for the same reason. Our cisterns were formally known as 'water waste preventers' because they could only discharge one two-gallon tank-full at a time. And to answer other observations: yes, these cisterns are remarkably reliable, so that's why you find such old specimens and boxing-in the cistern isn't such a problem (but there is usually an access panel or even an access corridor the other side of the wall for maintenance); the pair of separate hot and cold taps is very common, even in new installations, and is again due to old regulations that forbade the mixing of hot water and cold water from the mains, plus the old preference for filling the washbasin rather than washing under running taps; penny-in-the-slot locks like that in Dunfermlilne are still in use in London public loos, though now taking 20p coins. But enough waffle from this side of the pond. Yours sincerely, Tristram Grevatt
Cleaning a toilet with fire (and detonation cord)
From: Eric West Subject: Cleaning a toilet with fire Date: 1 October 2014 20:13 Hi Bob, Not sure how I finished up at your site, but it has given me an hour or two of fascinating entertainment! Not sure what that says about either you or me. I see you mentioned cleaning the toilet by fire. A good few years ago I was employed as a pilot with a mineral exploration company in Western Australia. I spent a lot of time operating from camps way out in the Australian Outback. The loos were of two types, basically urinals which were drained into the desert to evaporate, and a sit down affair, which was a long ditch, surrounded by scrim, open to the sky and with a "10 holer" box with lids over the top of the holes to keep the flies down. It was a very communal place to strain in unison in the mornings! It was sterilized daily, the method being to decant about a gallon of Avgas 100/110 from either my stock or the fuel drains of my aircraft and pour it equally down each hole. A long piece of detonation cord was then fed into one hole and all the lids closed. The fuse was then lit and the results were spectacular! Interesting, while you might think it would result in a shower of Sh*t, it never did, the burning gas blowing the lids open, but burning what was in the trench and killing any fly eggs that happened to be down there. The fun bit was that it produced 10 instant and identical smoke signals above the toilet! Regards Eric West
Misadventures in bus toilets
From: Stephen Beasley Subject: "Bus" Toilets Date: 31 October 2014 15:30 Hi, I was rather amused to see the sign referred to in your article on Bus Toilets that says "do not attempt to pee while standing"...I have to be honest and say that under NO circumstances would I EVER consider using a bus toilet to either pee or otherwise while sitting!! ...No SIR !!! ...standing every time. Recently I travelled from London Victoria to Antwerp with National Express...on the return journey I was absolutely bursting to use the toilet and could hold on no longer...into the depths of the bus I went and once inside the cubicle could only feel the utmost sympathy for any women that may also be in the same predicament of needing to use the toilet as I had been...there was absolutely NO WAY I was going to do anything other than STAND to pee...my aim was true but whoever had been before had saturated the floor and seat with piss and there were also some rather sinister looking brown stains mingled with the piss flowing to and fro with the movement of the bus...nevertheless,THANK the GOOD LORD for toilets on buses. Don't forget to pass on this tip for women on long bus journeys...do NOT wear either long dresses or ground hugging jeans/trousers...high heeled boots when entering the toilet are a MUST ...no sandals. Steve
Waxy French toilet paper
From: William Reymond Subject: Toilet Guru: old fashioned French toilet paper Date: 24 November 2014 22:33 Bob, Very interesting website you have, you truly are the Toilet Guru. Question for you. I remember as a child visiting my grandparents in southern France for the first time in 1970; in addition to having to deal with the bidet [with no instruction from my parents] having to contend this very rustic French toilet tissue. This material was a crinkly brown, almost wax-paper like substance which at once had almost no absorptive power and was potentially damaging to the areas to which it was applied. As I remember it came in folded sheets in a little box, but that was a long time ago. An emergency expedition was immediately mounted to get some travel packets of Kleenex to use as a substitute. Needless to say this experience made a very strong impression upon me. So the question is, was this stuff for real? [I can't find any reference to it anywhere] or, were my cheap French Grandparents misappropriating some other material, like a croissant wrapper, for this vital function? Regards, W.W. Wygart
Pointless attempts to engage me in business or otherwise involve me in their schemes
The Toilet Seat Vacuum
From: DsEsfOuRyoU@aol.com Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2002 19:16:48 -0400 Subject: Toilet Seat Vaccum My name is Daniel Murillo.representing Hector and Alba Penagos,inventors of the toilet seat vacuum,who are offering you the opportunity to manufacture this new product.For more information or if interested in a license,please reply to this E-mail address.Thank you.
Someone needs 1970s era Australian plastic toilet flush buttons, or else they will have to completely re-write a movie script based around them.
From: Rowena Zande firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2004 13:50:42 +1000 Subject: Toilets of the World My name is Rowena Zande and I'm curious to know if you can help me with some research I'm doing for a short film called "My Dad Victor" The script takes place in Queensland Australia during the 1970's and 1980's and rotates around a immigrant (Victor Tang) who's first job in Australia is working for a plastics manufacturing company that produces plastic toilet flush buttons... Over all it's a lovely little script but one major problem we've discovered is, PLASTIC TOILET FLUSH BUTTONS (which are primary to the script as it stands) didn't come out until approx the 1990's! Secondary to the TOILET FLUSH BUTTON it is imperative that our hero (Victor Tang) at very least work in a factory that produces some form of toilet plastic item (ie plastic seat covers etc) Now having said that - my question is - do you have any info (and/or photo's) on and/or of toilets from the 1970's, 1980's & 1990's preferable in the Queensland, Australia area.... as it's becoming apparent to me we will need to do a re-write on the script to make it historically accurate...but I am hoping to keep the story set in the 1970's & 1980's as that is part of the films charm..... OK - I hope this e-mail makes sense and it's my sincere hope that you can help, as any and all assistance will be greatly appreciated... kindest regards Rowena
A seller of stainless steel toilet pans awaits our reply.
From: "P.Malik" email@example.com Date: Tue, 19 Nov 2002 15:00:01 +0530 Subject: Toilets of the World Dear Bob, We are a company based in India and manufacture stainless steel toilet = pans,if you would be interested please do let us know. Waiting for your reply. Thanking you, Payal For MELICAN PROFILES F-15,Sector 6, Noida India #91-4422196,91-4422449,fax-91-4422393
Attached image of "Wall Mounted Toilet Pan - Model MP 101" deleted. No, but I can think of some Zambians you might contact...
Please tell me who manufactures low cost toilets in East Asia.
From: "javaid miya" firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Sun, 15 Dec 2002 21:42:49 +0000 Subject: toilet information Dear Sir, I am working with services provider and rental of mobile office/accommodation company. it will be of your great help if you can pass me few of far east (china,taiwan,thailand etc) toilets manufacture company. it is Bcoz of their low cost product. our most intrest are those toilets which can be assemble on requriment and disassemble when the need is over. your help and assistance will be highly appreciated in this regards. thanking you in advance. Javaid Miya. Business Co-ordinator. Al Umara Trad. & Real Estate Est. P.O.Box # 9819. Doha Qatar. Tel: - 00974 4355055. Fax: - 00974 4411476. Mob: - 00974 5807467.
I saw something on the Travel Channel, how do I buy it?
From: "Clifford McIlwain" email@example.com Subject: Art Toilets Date: Wed, 1 Jan 2003 21:40:07 -0600 Noticed on travel channel some companies producing art covered toilets. Thought you might know some web sites I could go to & order from..thanks, Cliff.
Please send us your catalog of toilet cabins.
From: "ramesh anand satav" firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 2 Jan 2003 19:38:42 -0000 Subject: Request for catalogue Dear Sir, We are planning for developing Amusement & Water park with boating in India (PUNE). When we visited your web side we came to now that you provide all WC Block & toilet cabins. We would be very glad to you if you can forward your catalogue and all details of toilet accessories as soon as possible so it will be helpful to us in decision making. So with this letter I request you to send me detail catalogue with latest designs and innovative Toilets. Pls. send your details on this address as soon as possible: Mr. Ramesh A Satav, Mohan nagar, Chinchwad, Pune 411019. Maharashtra. India Tel No. : +91 020 7185156 E-mail : email@example.com Your assistance in any way in appreciable, and your guidelines will open a new ways to our future expansion plans Thanking you and waiting eagerly for your reply. Yours truly, Ramesh
This was when I simply ignored most of these irrelevant requests.
Other toilet-themed correspondance
A surprising level of interest of dry toilets in Quebec
From: Sandrine Seydoux Subject: Dry toilet Date: 2 April 2015 14:18 Hello Bob, I'm very impressed by all the documentation you have on toilets around the world. Very interesting. Are you interested in dry toilets too? With others I'm putting up an information day about dry toilet, in Canada. (near Montreal) Thank you for any link or photo you can show me...I don't know how to search for that on your web site. see a french model of public street dry toilet: http://ecosec.fr/cabine/ Best regards sandrine
From: rd aliksir Subject: Pétition pour le développement des toilette sèches au Québec - À DIFFUSER LARGEMENT Date: 27 June 2015 04:03 Bonjour à tous, Voici le lien vers la pétition électronique demandant au Gouvernement du Québec de prendre toutes les mesures nécessaires pour favoriser la gestion plus responsable, plus durable et moins coûteuse des déjections humaines par l'utilisation des toilettes sans eau: https://www.assnat.qc.ca/fr/exprimez-votre-opinion/petition/Petition-5461/index.html Pour avoir plus d'informations sur le COFED, ses activités et sur la question des toilettes sèches: http://www.capsa-org.com/partenaires/comite-dorganisation-du-forum-eau-domestique Cordialement, Sandrine Seydoux
Surprisingly detailed questions about how to use an airliner lavatory
From: Viraj Pradhan Subject: Your instructions and more Date: 20 May 2014 07:00 Dear Sir, I will soon be traveling by plane for the first time and will be very grateful if you could let me know, preferably with illustrations, as to how does one operate various facilities of an airplane toilette. I would like to begin at the door itself. How does know it's not occupied? How does one open the door to enter? Once one is in, as some pictures indicate on the net, that it's a fairly simple knob that needs to be slid to shut and lock the door. Are there any differences on various plane types? Does one add a cupful of water to the toilette bowl before using the same (again as shown in some YouTube videos)? Or one just begins to use the bowl? Flush button looks quite obvious. Considering the vaccum mechanism, does one (as usual) close the lid and press the flush-button or keeps the bowl open? Does the basin-faucet have a particular function to start and stop the water flow? How does one empty the basin or it empties itself as it does at home? There are some videos which show some button to operate a device to empty the basin it fills up, hence this question. There are some videos on the net which are very confusing, in that, some show seat cover (tissue) also being thrown inside the bowl of the toilette prior to using the same. This is in addition to pouring a glass of water being thrown in. Does the knob meant to open the toilette from inside get stuck at times? Is there any light that flashes outside to toilette to suggest it is occupied? Is the knob on the door (on the outside) also able to open the door while it is occupied? Or there is another on the outside, in case one gets stuck inside/faints? A video or illustrated pictures describing function each of the utilities/contraptions inside the toilette will be best to dispel confusion introduced by the existing videos. Thanking You, Viraj Pradhan
Please explain my irrational fear of toilets, Part One
From firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Tue, 08 Oct 2002 22:30:32 +0000 Subject: Toilets of the World Hi there. I have an extreme fear of toilets and have since I was a child. Weird? Well, sure, but I have it nevertheless. Do you by chance know what this phobia is called? Elaine McKenzie
Please explain my irrational fear of toilets, Part Two
From: "Alexander Short" email@example.com Date: Tue Mar 21 11:48:25 2006 Subject: Toilets of the World Hi there, I was just on your website and wondered if you could possibly help me with a question? Ever since childhood I have had a phobia of toilets, but not all toilets. The toilets that have a horseshoe shaped toilet seat specifically. I was wondering if you knew whether or not there was an actual name for somone who has a phobia of toilets and what the technical term for the "horseshoe" shaped seats were. Any searches I have done before just describe them as openfronted. Also I was wondering if you have come accross this phobia before as I have never met anyone else with this phobia. It is particularly bad as I want to travel abroad to see different countries but feel that I couldn't incase the toilets are "horseshoe" shaped. Specifically I would love to go to New York, but I have heard that theses toilet seats are quite common there. I would be grateful for any answers you would be able to give me. Thanks
I did, of course, immediately refer him to the above similiarly toiletophobic Elaine McKenzie, and recommended that he stay out of North America as public codes generally require the U-shaped seats.
Please give me silhouettes for the Men's and Women's doors
From: '12' firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Tue, 22 Oct 2002 22:09:07 -0700 (PDT) Subject: toilet man and toilet lady query hello, i was wondering if you could hook me up with pictures on the door to the toilets of the man and the lady? if that's possilbe that would be great. thanks, larry
Please tell me more.
From: Giuliana Rando email@example.com Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 15:35:32 +0000 Organization: COLORS magazine Subject: toilets Dear Mr Cromwell, I've just visited your Toilets of the World website. I'm doing some research into public toilets, both the pay kind and the free kind. Perhaps you have some interesting titbits about cities or countries in which public toilets were hard/easy to find or were cheap/expensive etc. What people use rather than toilet paper in the places you've visited etc. Please get back to me if you think of anything. Regards Giuliana Rando firstname.lastname@example.org
Actually it's "Dr Cromwell", as I have a Ph.D., although not in this particular area of expertise, but whatever....
From: Bob Cromwell Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 12:17:33 -0500 (EST) To: email@example.com Subject: Re: toilets Cc: cromwell Guiliana — I was delighted that you found my web page helpful. I hope that if you can use any of my images or anecdotes, that I can get a copy of the article. As for finding public toilets, Russia can be rather difficult. There are usually public toilets in parks, but see my web page for comments on their quality. Russian park toilets are very grim. Sometimes there will be one along a major downtown street, like along Nevsky Prospekt in Sankt Peterburg. Generally speaking, they are not too common. If you can find a cafe, or a train station, they will probably have one. However, the Soviets built things on grand scales, so it is quite possible to be in an area completely dedicated to factories, or to apartment blocks, for several kilometers in all directions. As for toilet paper alternative, once you cross into Asia on your way into the Middle East, toilet paper completely disappears (outside some places obviously catering to western tourists). Water is the prefered method. If toilet paper exists it is a luxury for drying your hands afterward. In Turkey, a small valve on the wall leads to a copper tube. This tube snakes into the toilet bowl, then points up from below the rear of the seat. Kind of a combined toilet and bidet system. In Syria, you'll find a faucet with a small bucket below it. In the Middle East, toilets may be very simple by western standards, but they are far more plentiful. Once out into the desert, there are no formalized facilities as such. The standard method there involves your hand, and sand. Really. Bob
From: Giuliana Rando firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Fri, 22 May 1998 10:27:03 +0000 Subject: hello again Dear Bob Thank you for your prompt response to my message. We're publishing a small book actually. Colors usually publishes a bi-monthly magazine. I can send you some back issues if you're interested but you'll have to send me your mailing address. As for the book, I'm not sure exactly how it's going to work with courtesy copies yet but I will definately send you the piece on public toilets and wiping (I will try to send you the book though). [....] Warm regards Giuliana Rando email@example.com
I, too, am going to Turkey.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Thu, 9 Jul 1998 23:19:44 -0700 (PDT) Subject: turkey, poop, not turkey poop... Hi there, Yes of course I have found your Toilets of the World page. It's been linked (immediately) on my travel page... I ended up on your pages because of your writings on Turkey (I leave two weeks from today!)... and wanted to write you because we are some sort of wacky distant relatives... My mother's maiden name is Crowell, and the story goes something like "the descendents of Cromwell changed their name when they came to America so as not to be associated with Ollie"... So, I am still working my way through the Turkey and Travel info :) Thanks for the fun read :) Rebecca Oh, if you're curious: http://www.halcyon.com/zola/travel.html (more junk on the main page).... Cheers!
Please tell me more about toilet history.
From: "m.craig" m.craig@MCI2000.com Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 18:58:36 -0800 Subject: Toilets, RE: Your webpage has been a primary source for information I am using to create a project, but do you have a webpage I could visit that tells me the past of the toilet? Thankyou, M. Craig
A guy at work was going to do that!
From: email@example.com Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 14:15:09 +1000 Subject: Toilets It is good to see other people interested in what kind of toilets exist in the world!!!! Another guy here at work was thinking of doing the same thing as you without even knowing that your site existed!!! Rachael
You should go to China, Part One
From: Scott Swanberry firstname.lastname@example.org" Date: Wed, 07 Jul 1999 19:25:00 -0400 Organization: Lunar Lite, Inc. Subject: toilets Hey, you don't have any toilets from the Far East. I lived a short time in communist China and can tell you horror stories. For example, i was at a printing plant about 4 hours east of Hong Kong. The toilet was a long trough running thru about a half dozen waist high stalls. They are only waist high because Chinese squat to pee and defecate. Anyway you defecate into the trough. At the end of the trough there is a bucket on a pivot. The bucket is slowly filled by a water source. Once full, its weight causes it to fall over into the trough. This sends a literal wave of feces flying down the trough. My first time in this toilet, luckily I was at the furthest end of trough. I was able to move out of the way in time before the "wave" came spewing by!!! Best regards, Scott Swanbery
I had not visited the "Peoples" Republic of China when I received this message. Since then, however, I have been there twice. I have not, however been "fortunate" enough to see such a system.
You should go to China, Part Two
From: Paul Galanti email@example.com Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1999 10:35:20 -0500 Subject: P.R.C.WCs As a middle age male (with all that entails) I travel through China with one eye out for the magic letters "WC." I think a picture of a Chinese "funnel and jug" urinal or a picture of the "accident you don't want to see" - a tricycle carrying 10 or so of the 5 gallon jugs would be a great addition. Or a picture footprint squatter in one of the Buddhist monasteries in Lhasa, Tibet. I suspect that I am one of the few westerners ever to see that one. Sort of like seeing the Pope's throne. Paul J. Galanti Professor of Law Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis 735 W. New York Street Indianapolis, IN 46202-5194 firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: (317) 274-4995 Fax: (317) 278-3326
I kept an eye out for just such a tricycle while in China, but didn't spot one.
You should go to China, Part Three
From: SquadX email@example.com Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2000 17:34:10 -0700 (PDT) Subject: Toilets in China... "Chi so hi bin doe a?" (That's Cantonese for "Where is the toilet?"!) I totally empathize with your toilet experiences! :) I've been on 2 missions trips so far- one to West Africa and one to Hong Kong/ China. In West Africa, I had the funniest experience. We were out in the middle of nowhere on our way home from a village trip and I REALLY had to go so our bus driver finally stopped in this small village that hadn't changed in centuries. I got off the bus and the nationals led me down a "road" in their village to this little hut with walls made of grass that stood about 4 feet high. I stepped inside and closed the flimsy wooden door only to find a slanted concrete floor with a hole in the wall greet me. By now most of the village had gathered to watch and I could see them quite easily over the tops of the walls. They were only staring because I'm white, but still... Well, at least I can laugh about it now! :):):) By the way, I've included a picture of my friend modeling a squatty potty (as we affectionatly called them) in Macau. Don't worry, the pic is clean- and suprisingly, so is the toilet! ~squadx
You should have gone to Woodstock.
From: Dave Drinnan firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 13:38:08 -0400 Subject: Toilets! Wow. What more can I say? I've glanced at your page on toilets of the world, and I have to commend you for your "pictorial" !! It probably has more "meaning" to those of us who have traveled internationally, and actually had to use some like these! HOWEVER! I propose that you're missing at least one picture that would truly rival anything you've shown on your page. And it's domestic, too! You NEED to add a picture of one of the port-o-johns from Woodstock '99!! I don't have a photograph, otherwise I'd forward it to you. But I *DO* have the image burned in my memory, of that first port-o-potty I opened on Friday morning... the "contents" piled higher than the seat! 8-( And it didn't get a lot better over the next few [hot] days... -dave
I, too, have already gone to Turkey.
From: "john c. dekas" email@example.com Subject: RE: Turkey Toilets Date: Tue, 7 Sep 1999 18:53:19 -0400 Just one question. Although I fully agree with your analysis on toilet facilities and you quite obviously did your deed with some earnest and flair, why did you do it? It's funny that you were so adept at describing such facilities. Did you try each facility for accurateness? [ Other than the Imperial, Ottoman, Crusader, and New Testament categories, yes, I tested them all, and that does include the Old Testament one. — Bob ] All kidding aside, it was a good presentation. Although I found the most scary facility in a small village (supposedly the village of Mary, the mother of Jesus) just outside the city of Ephesus in Turkey. [ The village is Maryemana, up the mountain south of Selcuk — Bob ] The facility consisted of a large room with an approximate 18" deep slot in the floor. Footprints, made of a black stone and embedded in the floor on both sides of the "ditch", were guides as to where your feet went, while you went. The facility was coed and there were no wash pipes anywhere to be seen. Believe me, it was not easy to straddle that "ditch." Folks kind of waited until the room, which was approximately 10' X 20', until it was empty before using it. There was a fountain, outside, in a courtyard which doubled as a pipe wash. Also, in the "new" apartment buildings, there was a TP holder built into the walls of the bathroom; But, no spindle. There was a pipe wash which ran from the back of the toilet to the front. The valve was on the right side, of course. Spent 2 years in Turkey, and loved it. Aside from a few amenities, the people were nice and the country was great (including the donar kabob).
I want a squatter in Ireland.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Squatters! Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 23:24:40 -0800 Hi Mr Cromwell, I love your toilet web site ! I'm looking for a manufacturer of floor-mounted squatter toilets in Europe. (Here's the history) I was a traveller in my youth, going to the woods every day, then after a spell in India I returned to Ireland and settled down to build a house. In the house I wanted to have a squat toilet but couldnt find one for love nor money ! In desperation I eventually made one from an old bday. It served us well for the 5 years we lived there, but now we have a new house and would like a real squatter ! Can you help point me in the direction of a supplier? Thanks, Trev.
I'm sure this is exactly what Al Gore had in mind when
he invented the Internet!
"During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."
— Al Gore, during an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "Late Edition", 9 March 1999
Anyway, the links page contains a link to The Sulabh International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi, India, and their web page includes the "elaborate drill for defecation" as prescribed in the scripture Manusmriti Vishnupuran.
My favorite toilet is on Mount Whitney!
From: default email@example.com Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2000 15:38:51 -0700 Subject: Toilets of the World Dear Dr. Cromwell, Greetings! After reviewing your Toilets Of The World website I feel compelled to inform you of the toilet with the best view that I have ever experienced. It is located at the elevation of 14,496 ft above sea level on the top of Mount Whitney in California. I encourage you to experience it first hand. Due to the number of visitors to the top of Mount Whitney in Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park the Park Service saw fit to place a pit toilet there, thankfully. The toilet itself is standard US National Park Service stainless steel type pit toilet. It was built a number of years ago (10? 20? I don't know) with plywood walls in the usual outhouse style. However the weather being what it is on the very top of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the wood walls have since been blown down. So when one uses this toilet one has a breathtaking 360 degree view of the highest, most picturesque snow capped peaks in the Sierras! So, what is lacking in privacy is more than made up for by the view. I strongly recommend you make the trek to see it for yourself. Unfortunately, the only means to get there is by foot usually starting at the Whitney Portal trailhead (elev 9,200 ft) and climbs steeply up more than 5,000 ft over about 15 miles to the top of the peak. There is a limit to the number of permits issued to enter the Mt. Whitney area so plan accordingly ( I can send you info for the wilderness permits if you like). The peak itself is rather flat on top (for a Sierra Mountain) so the toilet is a good 300 feet from the very highest part of the mountain, maybe 5 or 10 feet below the official summit elevation of 14,496.399 ft. Toilet paper must be provided by the user but that is really not a problem because most backpackers here carry their own roll of paper while on the trail. The peak can be visited in a one day hike but this is a very strenuous choice. Most visitors wisely choose to break up their climb into at least two days. When I visited it was the last leg of an 8 day 95 mile hike starting at Kennedy Meadows to the south and spent the last night of the hike sleeping on the top of Mt Whitney. This was in June of 1999 and the weather was perfect. Other seasons don't allow for any but the most experienced mountaineers to climb Mt Whitney. There is reportedly another very picturesque toilet without walls view in Idaho in the Hell's Canyon region of the Snake River but I myself have not had the pleasure of using that one. I am told one must float or hike several days down the river to reach the bluff that this toilet sits on but the spectacular view makes it well worth the effort. Of course, being a backpacker I have had many choice views while performing toilet ablutions, but toilets were not a part of the process. That however, is another subject entirely. Thanks for an informative website, Sincerely, Chris Barrett
Why don't you show the German "Inspection Shelf"?
From: SomeOne SomeOne@FOSTER.com Subject: Toilets of the World Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000 08:53:55 -0700 How come you haven't any pictures of that most beloved of all devices in the most anal retentive of all societies, the German toilet? Have you seen the shelf that catches the poop on them? Sure would love to have a comparative analysis and commentary. Great page, by the way. Thanks muchly! XXX XXXXXXXX Assistant to attorneys XXXX XXXX and XXXX XXXX Foster Pepper & Shefelman PLLC Suite 3400 1111 Third Avenue Seattle, WA 98136
Ah yes, the curious Teutonic inspection shelf! Since then I have added some pictures, with some further explanation, on my page of Dutch toilets.
The Soviets built this same questionable technology into their commodes, with their own unique flair. It seems that the height of the inspection shelf on a Soviet commode is almost always a local minimum — that is, the shelf does not drain. It provides for a much quicker build-up of the rank stink so closely associated with those porcelain nightmares. Of course, Russian flooring is seldom level, so there's a slight possibility that a toilet will be installed with an overall forward tilt, thus accidentally negating this feature.
Also see http://www.banterist.com/archivefiles/000212.html for a picture and detailed discussion.
According to lavatorial correspondant Jan Engelhardt,
"[...] this is useful as to inspect the excrement for
Certain illnesses or diseases only change the color
of your urine or excrements and can be a useful hint
on illnesses that otherwise do not reflect "in you"
(like blood component changes).
BTW, since Soviets had taken over part of Germany after WW2, these inspection-shelf-style toilets can often be found in East Germany, but only exist to a very limited degree in West Germany, if at all. I know that since I was born in East Germany ;-) New building in "East Germany" of course get the "standard" style without a shelf."
Hmmm. Sigmund Freud was Germanic. Sigmund Freud was concerned with matters anal retentive and anal expulsive. A connection?
I live in Australia, but I want to buy from an Italian or Asian manufacturer.
From: mkiddle firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000 23:13:27 +1100 Subject: Squat toilet manufacturers Dear Mr Cromwell, You have created a marvelous store of information about toilets, which I found very interesting. I am on a school council that has a very "multi-cultural" population. We are currently investigating constructing part squat toilets in new buildings, because they would be easier to clean, use less water, paper, and be more hygenic to use, etc, etc. However I am unable to locate any squat toilet manufacturers in Sydney. I do remember travelling in Italy back in 1981, and using many well-crafted squat toilets there. However, Yahoo and other searches all favour manufacturers of thrones ... Would you know of any Asian or Italian or other manufacturers ? Thanks Mike K
I want to teach my dog to use a Turkish toilet.
From: David Amundson email@example.com Date: Fri Sep 5 16:10:36 2003 Did you ever find a US source for Turkish toilets? I have a very large dog, and I think he could be trained to use one if I used it too. I used tohave a cat who peed in the bathtub, and that was handy--just run some water now and then--but this dog needs a Real toilet with plenty of space around it and the capacity to deal with large dog stools. Thanks--I hope this query isn't too weird.... David Amundson
Halliburton wants multi-cultural toilets.
From: John.Wendt@halliburton.com Date: Thu Dec 16 04:45:43 2004 Subject: Toilet issue in Iraq Sir, I am currently working in Iraq. Of course we are dealing with a cross stream of cultures at the base I am employed. We are having issues with the local nationals using our western toilets. To your knowledge, is there a toilet that can accommodate both eastern and western cultures? Regards, John Wendt East Site Management Camp Anaconda Balad, Iraq
I referred him to the Russian-Latvian railway toilets...