Talking to Taiwan Toilets or Losing the Loo!!

The more my team tell me I shouldn’t write this particular blog, the more, for those of you who know me well this will be no surprise, the more immediately I will do exactly that, so here it is, by the way, in common with lots of kids, mine seem to have a built in appreciation for toilet humor, so girls, this ones for you, love …. Dad!

Toilets, now why would I decide to  write about them, besides the discussion above that is.  Well Toilets in Taiwan come in interesting configurations, be warned, from this point forward expect dubious jokes, puns and general content that is probably best not read at meal time!

Firstly there are two main classifications of toilets, for convenience sake I will call them Western Style Toilets and Eastern Style Toilets, although to be fair those classifications, as you will see are not strictly correct. Firstly we have the Western Toilet Category, this includes 2 basic types, “bog standard” USA and UK style toilets, I am assured these exist, I just haven’t seen many …… yet!

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Second in this category is the Japanese/Taiwanese style toilet, see I told you the categories didn’t strictly make sense! The toilet shown below is a model of high technology and convenience, and happens to be in the bathroom of my apartment!

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This is a TOILET, heated seat, yes ladies you heard me right, built in shall we call it Bidet capability, one for men (blue button) and one for women (pink button) ….trust me it took me a couple of times to figure it out…..and an emergency stop, Orange button! It makes me feel flushed just to think about it!

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Frankly the first time I pressed the “boy” button, who could resist trying it out, it scared the crap out of me, of course that is sort of its primary function, a jet of perfectly warmed water, wouldn’t do to be cold after warming the seat would it, attacked me from below, thank goodness I didn’t jump up or I might have had a fountain in the bathroom!  BTW, yes of course I did try it, the women’s button produces a gentler spray but how do we say this, covers more area in the north-south orientation so to speak!  The rest I will leave to your imagine, what rest I am not sure but anyway.

In rather stark contrast to the impressive amenities of the (Japanese/Taiwan) Western toilet there is the Eastern Toilet.  I should have been warned when, in our first acclimatization briefing there was a chart on this topic, yes, this is not a joke, and in a formal briefing to boot.

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Now one of our team who should remain anonymous (Craig) seems to have more funny lines about toilets than anyone should have, so, I acknowledge his extensive contributions to the (hopefully) funnier parts of this particular blog (in Arkansas, Craig is used to doing his business in a hole in the ground. He was much impressed to see a tiled outhouse!)

Even one such as this:

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And so, when present with this kind of “commode caper” Craig, in his usual quiet and unassuming manner took one look and declared
“the urinal fell over” by the way, in case you are wondering, you squat facing the raised portion, see chart above if you didn’t before! Evidently, it took Craig awhile to master this – evidenced by his shrieking, echoed by the porcelain and heard by the team from a 100 feet away. (He really had to pull his head out!)

Now, I am a strong supporter of our corporate “open door policy” but this was too much!

The next chapter of this weird and getting weirder blog has to do with access to the facilities and privacy in the privvy.

Privacy, yes, well the Taiwan government recently enacted new privacy legislation, it does not apparently encompass the topic of rest rooms.

It seems that one of two situations are prevalent here, first and probably most frequent is that the ladies restroom is adjacent to the men’s restroom and that the ladies have to walk past the doorless men’s restroom to get to theirs while (at least this is true for the Ladies on our team I am assured) trying to not look at [hopefully only] the backs of the men standing at the urinals, a situation that our hosts seem to barely notice, in the spirit of collaboration it does ensure that our team remains close both in business and while doing our business. It does occur to us to wonder what the proper etiquette is in this situation, bowing could have disastrous results and if we just salute, which hand should we use? For those of you who are type A, the answer is of course, you wave with the other hand!

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The second situation is if anything even more embarrassing for my poor teammates, some rest rooms are co-ed, this would be OK, the stalls are enclosed floor to ceiling so some level of privacy is ensured, there is one small design, dare I say it, either flaw or feature depending on your outlook.  That is that there are also urinals in these mixed facilities, and inevitably the ladies have to walk past them on their way to and from their specially marked stalls!

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Finally, only finally because my creative juices are running dry, there are a couple of features that are actually quite good, firstly using the urinal in one of the buildings we have been working in is an education, they try to improve employees command of English by mounting a joke on the wall above the urinal that is presented in both English and Mandarin, and a joke to boot, that gives everyone incentive to read it.

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Secondly, if you get bored with seeing the same joke every day for a week or two, you can watch out of the wide open window that is right beside the urinal, extending from around my knees to above my head, out of which you can see not only the fairly small grounds that the building in set in, with a few trees and associated wildlife, and maybe 5 yards further is the main road where I can watch all the passers by and traffic, and, if they happen to glance up, they can see me, but as far as I can tell, they never do, for which I am eternally grateful.

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And so I am out of ammunition for this entry, our return home is getting ever closer, I may be able to do one more blog before we leave, you are probably hoping that it doesn’t happen, but then again perhaps this view of the lighter side of life came as some relief!

#ibmcsc Taiwan #smartercities challenge

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7 Comments

Filed under New Taipei City, Taiwan

7 responses to “Talking to Taiwan Toilets or Losing the Loo!!

  1. Nina

    Peter, you really did write it down….
    It’s better not reading it during meal time,
    although we were TALKING about it during our meal time…hahahaha~~

  2. Ian Allenbrook

    Thank you for that, Peter!

  3. pcoldico

    Just hope to provide a little light entertainment! 🙂

  4. Emma

    I can’t stop laughing~hahaha

  5. Nancy Jones

    Craig – don’t even THINK about getting back to the office and requesting a heated seat or a squat urinal – you will be out of luck!!! =) notice ….I left out a word

  6. Hi, Nice to meet you in the restaurant in Taipei when you with Lisa that night. To say the truth, Japanese/Taiwanese style toilet is very common here, my apartment also installed it. One brand is from TOTO , the other is HCG both with OK technology and yes, very convenience. Some of the department stores and restaurants in Taiwan all have it ! ( TW-SC )

    • pcoldico

      Glad to have met you Fiona, yes I know about the toilets, just me trying to be funny, we needed a little light entertainment after all the work so that was my attempt at providing some. Hope to meet you again in the not too distant future. …..PC