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Brian’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 18 Mar 2007

Location: Toilet Timeout, Russia

MapToilet Evolution

Do you think you can judge a country's development by the advancement of their bathroom fixtures? In my travels I have experienced a transition of toilets from China and Tibet to Mongolia and now Russia. In China and Tibet you may recall from a previous post a description of the squatter and its inherent challenges. Which, honestly was a giant leap forward from using the sidewalks and city streets. Mongolia, with all of its western influence (I assume because it's not communist) has many more western (sitting) toilets than China. They have begun to make the transition from squatters to sitters. BUT the sitters have footprints on the seats! So, the fixture is western but the style is still eastern. A lavatorial fusion of east meets west, if you will. Who would've thought seeing footprints on the toilet seat would actually make me think society is progressing forward? In Russia there are three types of toilets to accommodate the various developmental stages of human evacuation. They have the squatters, the sitters and a hybrid toilet that is a sitter, but has been modified to have footsteps on the sides of the bowl. I guess you have to climb up on it like a perch. But honestly, what's worse than the squatter is the fourth type of Russian toilets, which are basically western toilets with no seats or footpads. So you have to hover, which is more of a musculoskeletal challenge than just squatting. So the 'hover' is definitely the most uncomfortable position. But, at least I have not seen any "stalac-shites" in Russia, which is also much more toilet paper friendly then the east. Soon enough I imagine I will be able to actually put the toilet paper IN the toilet!