Thursday, July 12, 2012

Toilets in Eastern Europe

Hi friends,

I always get the most comments when I blog about the toilets in foreign countries.  You know you all are very sophomoric, don't you?  But, I give you what you want so here is my blog post about the toilets in Eastern Europe.

Well let's start with the obvious.  There were no fancy or high tech toilets in Ukraine.  This post will highlight some of the grossest bathroom facilities I've ever encountered.  And remember people, I camp and have been known to dig a hole in the woods as a potty.  So for me to say these are gross, that means it is worse than digging a hole in the woods.  But really, not all the bathrooms were this bad.  I'm just showing you the highlights.  When we were in the hotels and restaurants they had clean (basic) facilities.)  Most societies have yucky bathrooms in public places.

First, the irony of the situation.  When you are at a hotel or restaurant and get to use the nice clean facilities, it is FOR FREE.  However, when you use the gross, disguisting facilities in public areas you have to pay.  I thought that was really funny - I paid 1 or 2 Hriven to use the gross potty.  That isn't much money, it equates to 10-20 cents, but still.... funny.

So let's start with the basics.  Eastern European's smoke and I guess they like to smoke in the bathroom.  Look at this ingenious set up.  Toilet Paper and a Cigarette Dispenser side by side.  Nice.

Europeans are also very modest.  They like their privacy so the toilet stalls are always almost down to the floor and up to the ceilings.  The stalls we have in America have a much bigger gap in the bottom.  A German friend of mine always freaks out when she comes to America because she feels so 'out there.'

And about the toilet paper.  I didn't find any really rough, nasty stuff, but rumor has it that some of the TP is recycled and there can be wood chips in it.  Can you imagine?  I also don't use the super soft charmin kind at home.  We are practical, budget minded at our house and use basic Scott's TP so the contrast wasn't too bad, but there are NO soft fluffy papers here.  Just very basic.  Oh and you don't often see it on a roll.  Most often the TP is in tiny squares like tissue paper that you extract one tiny square at a time.
And now for one of the gross things.  The septics and sewer systems aren't very robust and can't handle paper in the toilet, so many facilities have a bag lined can next to the toilet.  Sarah told me if you see the waste bag next to the John, don't flush the paper, toss it in the can.  Yuck.  I would hate to be the cleaning lady - you know?

So, let's talk about the nasty potties.  The first really nasty potty I encountered was on the soviet area train from Budapest Hungary to Chop Ukraine.   This potty was a seat with hole down to the tracks.  Yup, if you looked you could see the tracks going by under the potty.  Imagine how nice this would have been in the freezing winter.  It wasn't especially nice in the heat of the summer either.  There was a foot pedal (see it on the side of the potty??)  If you held the foot pedal down water came out and lined the bowl.  The same foot pedal was for the sink.

 How nice that they provided a mirror for freshening up!
But wait, that is not the worst potty I had the pleasure of using.  The worst potty was at the bus station in Khust  Ukraine (a town in the Carpathian area.)  Here I got to pay a woman (poor woman) 1 Hriven to use this beauty.

I was very glad I had my hand sanitizer with me on the trip.  I wanted to take a bath in the stuff after leaving here...

Everywhere societies label their boys and girls rooms with words and images to help people identify the girls from the guys.  I thought this was a funny image to use to indicate the difference.  A little girl on a pot?  Really?

And lastly, even having an indoor toilet is a luxery in this society.  When we visited Sarah's school we were surprised to see that they had no bathrooms in the school building for the students, only faculty.  The kids had to go outside, across the playground to a primitive facility that I gather was just a glorified outhouse.  I guess whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger - eh?  So this photo was taken in one of the classrooms.  The bathroom for the students is that white building way off in the background.  I guess over there kids don't often use 'I need to use the bathroom' as an excuse to miss class-time.  Remember this is a northern climate so winter means ice, cold and snow.   How fun would it be to trek across the way in the winter to use this?
I didn't take any photos of the nice bathrooms, they were pretty typical of the ones we have in America.  Sarah is fortunate in her host family situation.  They have a lovely bathroom that her host mother keeps very clean and neat.  Many volunteers in Ukraine have only an outhouse for toilet facilities.

Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Come back tomorrow for the final post on our Eastern European trip where I highlight Sarah's life in Ukraine.

1 comment:

Kimberly Gajewski said...

I've got one word for you, my friend...yucky! :D