Lately, I have been getting a lot of mails from Women travelers asking me for travel tips. The questions have ranged from – Is it safe to take overnight bus journeys alone? Do you think its ok to stay in a Dorm in a Backpacker hostel or will you meet wierdos? How do you carry your money? I’ve been able to give confident advice on everything except one question. I should say I’ve been stumped when it comes to the most popular question. So, what are we talking about here – “How do you manage with toilets?”. “How did you manage peeing in the open?” kind of questions.
Simply put, women are shit scared when it comes to this particular topic while traveling. No pun intended on shit. So, to give confidence to all women travelers about traveling and the toilet experience, I’d like to share 3 of my travel toilet memories here.
The Rio De Janeiro Pee in Public experience – It was February 2009 and I spent my first Brazilian Carnival in the streets of Rio. Rio Carnival is not just known for the almost naked Samba dancers parade. It is known for the street parties or “Blocos da ruas”. With a party in every corner and bands leading mad costume parades through every street in Rio, you can say I lived on the streets for almost a week. Spending days and nights in the streets, wearing ridiculous costumes, drinking beer and dancing was the order of the day. All the beer drinking just leads to one outcome – what goes in needs to come out. With all the bars overflowing with people, overused toilets, peeing in restaurants / bars was just not an option (And I hate hovering over dirty toilets). Going all the way home to pee was just plain stupid. With no choice but to pee in the streets of Rio, I joined the crazy Brazilians and learnt the art of peeing in public. Introducing miracle product ‘Xixi Feliz’ – which means ‘Happy Pee’. It is a paper funnel, made out of 300 GSM art card and printed in 2 colour. Given away by this wonderful lady (who happens to be the mother of my dear friend Lola) in exchange for free beer, this product came to the rescue of most women in the streets of Rio. It even has simple instructions on how to place it between your legs and pee standing up. Well… I did it!
Only one advice – If you are slightly shy, just drink enough beer and get high.
Street Parties in Rio …
Xixi Feliz crew.. Lola’s mom, Thiago and Lola
Its 2 years since this experience and now, there are experts on this topic on the internet. Check out Stand2Pee, run by Stacy Kwan, who is the expert on standing and peeing. She even has an instructional DVD on this.
The Smoky Mountain Freezing Experience – When you are in the wilderness, I would have thought it would be super simple to just hide behind the bushes and do the job. Just as long as you don’t hear bear and snake stories. Well, the entire Smoky Mountain experience changed my perspective. I was out hiking with Danny and Tim from Florida in the Great Smoky Mountains for a couple of days. It was supposed to be cool et all. Cool turned into chilly turned into bloody cold turned into a snowstorm. So, what would normally be one layer of clothing (a pair of cargo pants) turned into many (Thermals, pants over it, 2 pairs of socks et all). It is as it is tricky to excuse yourself (when you are with 2 guys) and hit the bushes to use the toilet. What’s even more tricky is to find a patch that is devoid of snow (where your shoes would sink). What is even more tricky is to remove all the layers of clothing and not get your ass frozen in the few seconds. So, without getting into further details, let me just say that I haven’t visited snow covered areas since then. I am a staunch advocate of the ‘save your butt’ from the cold campaign.
Ladakh Ladies Toilet Experience – Finally, let me not forget good old Indian toilets. During the road trip from Manali to Leh, we came across the most amazing toilet for women. With a big hole in the ground (do not look below) and no roof, this was a ‘Room with a view’. Hovering over the toilet in a sumo position and a view of the sky, it almost looks like you are doing the aircraft flying pose. And, let me not forget – there is no latch on the door. Was there a door? With this stellar facility in the middle of nowhere, we were overwhelmed how women travelers were cared for in the mountains in India. Till we saw the sign ‘Women, don’t throw your rubbish here’. Anyway, this piss-stop was quite a laugh.
If you think you have any funny toilet incidents to share, this is the place. Will then be in a position to post a sequel to Toilet Trauma. Let’s call it Bathroom Blunders.