Coming Down to Earth

I’m warning you now. This post is not pretty…

Before I went travelling, I took great delight in watching shows like Worlds Apart, where people from developed nations got to spend a week in a village somewhere on the opposite side of the earth and live how the “natives” do.

From the safety of my living room I would hee-haw at the spoilt white people. “Wimps!” I’d say, and wonder how they could be so horribly naive.

All my words were swallowed when, on a little Indonesian boat, I was introduced to the concept of…the squatting toilet.


“I’m not using that,” I whisper to Ms, and make a pledge to hold It til we make the two and a half hour journey to the national park. Surely they’ll have a sitting toilet there – it’s for tourists, after all…

When we got to the national park, I took off eagerly – bum bag firmly in place containing everything sanitary one could possibly imagine.

But I found, to my horror, a squatting toilet in a much less hygienic state than the one on the boat.

Until that day, I’d never before understood the point of doing squats.

Two days of squatting toilet later, I was lying in recovery on my ‘American spring bed‘ when suddenly I wailed…

“But whyyyyyy? I just don’t understand why, after this many years of evolution and advances in technology, anyone still uses a squatting toilet???”

Meanwhile, Ms (who grew up with squatting toilets) was doubled up in fits of hilarity at my expense.

When she finally recovered her composure, a lengthy discussion ensued.

I agreed I could understand how maybe the squatting toilet made sense in the days of sarongs and no underwear. “But everyone wears high heels and pants these days – it doesn’t make sense anymore!”

Squat Evolution

Then, after a long silence, “I suppose sitting where a hundred other bums have been is not hygienic either,” I muse, still unable to forget the pain in my thighs.

When I returned home, I did some research. And without going into graphic detail, scientific studies show that, in fact, squatting is a much healthier and more ergonomic way of doing business.

I don’t know. I’m not convinced. What about the splash back?

I remember the bemused look on our tour guide’s face, every time I trotted off to use the loo, and came back rubbing my hands with sanitising gel.

The moment I realised, with a stubborn kind of shame, that I am that white woman, after all…

What is it about western culture, and our need to be distanced from the dirt? It must look to others, perched as we are upon our thrones, like we think “our shit don’t stink”.

So I conclude – this is how they get us tourists back for going and messing up their formerly pristine shores.

It’s the locals way of bringing us back down to earth.

Has travel taught you any surprising home truths?


Since returning from travel, I’ve learned another home truth – I am not managing my work and online obligations very well.

Until I can get my priorities sorted out, I will be off social media, and reducing my posting frequency to fortnightly. Apologies to anyone feeling neglected – I hope to visit you soon.

Thanks to Averil Dean for reminding me that sometimes, us writers have to say ‘no’ to Candy.