Tackling the Thai Toilet

This is not a story about poop. 

I just wanted to make the clear.

The Thai sun was searing down through the lower deck window as I surveyed the hungover Brit and Aussie backpackers and young European families on the ferry boat.

As we finally got off the swaying boat, and shuffled single file from one boat deck to the other, my suitcase banged against the ankle of the young women in front of me. She huffed unappreciatively as I apologized. Too bothered myself to care if a stranger thought I was arrogant or not. We stepped into a sea of Thai tuk tuk drivers, hollering to take us to the resorts, or wherever it was we were going. I pushed through, attempting to mumble ‘No, thank you’ but coming off slightly more rude as other travelers pushed past. Jenn and I quickly split off down a back road, where we could see souvenir shops and guesthouses. Walking just ahead of Jenn, I could feel the irritation of the 100 degree day seeping into my fallen smile.

Jenn, the positive one, chirped that we should jump into a travel agent, and see if we can find a great guesthouse to stay in. That worked for me, anywhere out of the sun. We stepped inside, wary that we might be getting ripped off. I was grumbling, not-so-silently about our lack of planning, while Jenn continued to chat with the travel agent in her cheery California accent. When the travel agent suggested, Lanta L.D. Beach Bungalow on Long Beach, we said that sounded fine. At around 200 ($6) baht a night roughly, we weren’t sure what we might be getting into.

Lanta L.D. Bungalow - Koh Lanta Yai, Thailand

We arrived via a capped tuk tuk ride of 100 baht and were greeted warmly by the young Thai lady at the front desk. When we were shown to our bungalow, we walked into what Thai dreams are made of; a tiny bungalow with a front patio and hammock, a double bed with a mosquito net (complete with a giant beetle sitting on top) and a bathroom with a simple shower head, toilet and sink.

Lanta L.D. Beach Bungalow - Koh Lanta Yai, Thailand

It took well into the first night for Jenn and I to figure out how to flush the toilet. Jenn and I warned each other that if we never figured it out, we’d forgive each other for what might happen in the next few days. Thankfully, at 2am, in a drunken, sleepy stupor my half shut eyes rested on the water filled bucket in the room. Earlier in the evening I had assumed it was some kind of catch for the leaky shower. In my previously sober state, I should have known better, considering the shower head was just that; a shower head hanging from the wall, pouring into the completely open concrete bathroom. Suddenly, the little plastic shovel in the bucket of water had a purpose. I scooped the water up and plopped it into the toilet, and I watched as the toilet paper disappeared down the little toilet hole.

I was officially in the most basic guesthouse I’d ever been in my life. I smiled with joy.

I woke up as Jenn crawled over me for the toilet just as the Thai sun came seeping through the cracks in the doorway. As my mind cleared from the nightly festivities, I remembered my joyful discovery from the night before.

‘I figured out how to flush the toilet!’ I yelled to Jenn.


‘Use that shovel in the bucket! Pour the water into the toilet…’ I stifled a smile.

A mix of baffled and appreciative laughter, these two over-privileged American girls had solved all the of mind-boggling workings of the Thai toilet.