Today's post is brought to you by "The Bathroom Diaries." This is one down-to-earth Web site on the essentials of waste, and the receptacles that receive it. Fun, funny and highly useful if you're the type that plans in advance. And you really, really want a clean and comfortable place to go.
Its contributors have scoured the globe to report back on the toilet scene around the world. They give Golden Plunger awards to the world's best bathroom. And offer "true tales of tawdry toilets." Really, this site is a gas.
If toilet talk is not your thing, the time to stop reading is now!
A personal admission: I can get obsessed with toilets/bathrooms. Also known as the loo, the can, the head, the latrine, the throne, the privy, the W.C., the powder room the lavatory (deep breath here - unless you're actually in or on one), the washroom, the chamber pot, the john, the bathroom, the restroom, the lavatory, the commode. Chime in if you've got other faves.
When in Thailand, I was faced with the prospect of the squat toilet. (Upon which "downhill skiers have the clear advantage," according to the site.)
The Thai toilets were mostly clean and worked quite well. But via a bowl and a tank of water on the side that you used to "flush" with. Scoop, pour, scoop, pour, scoop, pour. Voila! Flushed.
But then there was the issue of the foot rests. The porcelain square on the ground usually had a place marked for your feet. What was not marked was which direction you were supposed to stand. I mean, squat.
Facing the wall or with your back to the wall? I don't remember what the consensus of us Westerners was but if you have knowledge of such things, please check in.
And despite having just met a woman named Mary, who traveled solo to join the group, we were having this down and dirty conversation. You can bond quickly when traveling in organized groups and share new experiences together, even if you've arrived knowing no one. But back to the commode issue...
We could find "regular" flush toilets at nice hotels in big cities in Thailand. But people told us that when locals come upon such a thing, they stand on the seat and squat anyway. Actually, it might be a way better technique than the "hover" in an unclean bathroom, if you can manage without getting hurt or tipping over at an inopportune time.
Then there was my year in England. It was a scavenger hunt half the time to figure out how to flush the darn thing. A big button at the top of the tank. That you pushed. A chain when the tank was hanging on the wall above. That you pulled. A lever on the side like an American toilet.
Anyway, if you want to pencil in a list of highly rated restrooms for the next place you're going or just want to see where there's a nice one near you, head to The Bathroom Diaries. It has checked out thousands of locations in more than 120 countries.
The Web site certainly seems to be the place to go. To get the poop. So to speak.
Photo: The inside of a high falutin' toilet at a golf course club house in Northern Ireland. See? I even photograph toilets!
I know I have one of a squat toilet somewhere in my pile of prints (no pun intended). But I remember they were notoriously difficult to photograph.