Saudi Arabia: How to Use an Eastern Style Toilet

What exactly is an Eastern Style toilet?  It is what many expatriates will refer to as a “two stepper.”  These two stepper toilets remain in wide use throughout Saudi Arabia.  Some homes and apartments will have such toilets as well as some hospitals, malls, restaurants and hotels.  If an expatriate travels outside of a main city, it is even more likely that the Eastern toilet will be widely in use.

Eastern style toilets are not only in Saudi Arabia.  They can be found throughout the Arab world, Africa, Asia and parts of Latin/South America.  There may even be some in Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia.  It is true that an expatriate who has not seen an Eastern toilet before may be confused on exactly how to use one.  Therefore I am sharing a you tube video which gives a good (clean) demonstration on the proper use and etiquette of the Eastern Style Toilet.  Although the video was made in India it can equally apply to Saudi Arabia.

29 Responses

  1. the first time i saw one of those was in taif while visiting family. ya, i guess strange. but what i find odd is that the local mosque in my state remodeled the bathrooms, and they put the turkish toilets in

  2. OMG! I was laughing hysterically. I would have killed to have this explanatory video when I was getting married and went to India for the wedding. Would have saved me a lot of heartache. Try doing THAT while hugely pregnant wearing a sawar Kameez! It is a trick of contortion to pull the big blousy pants down WHILE keeping them out of the way so you don’t soil them. AT the same time holding the VERY long top in your teeth so the hem doesn’t drag on the filthy ground and get full of god knows what. The whole while teetering on the edge of the precipice so damn pregnant your entire sense of balance is completely out of whack. AND trying to reach behind your very big belly to wash…now if that is not enough excitement for you try doing that while pregnant on a moving train…you haven’t lived until you do that!

  3. You have me laughing Oby for although not pregnant I have used the Eastern style toilet many times wearing a shalwar kameez with dupatta! I think it’s worse to try and use one when wearing jeans under an abaya and trying to keep everything held up and dry without losing the balance!

    The individual did a decent and non-offensive job in explaining how to use such a device.

  4. i’ve lived in latin america all my life and never saw this type of toilet, in fact, i think most ppl here dont even know there is another sort of toilet… u sure they exist in this continent?

  5. @morita: Yes! I traveled through Mexico and Guatemala for a couple months back in the 1970s and ran into these toilets a few times – only they weren’t THIS fancy – just a hole in the middle of the floor – no place to put your feet.
    @oby: Hysterical! I, too, rode a train with an Asian toilet, but it was here in Arabia …I wasn’t pregnant like you, but had another “female” condition…ha! There IS nothing like using one of these on a train – that is the truth…Oh, yes! And people knocking on the door to hurry you up. I was in tears when I finally opened the door to the crowd of women crossing their legs outside. ..returned to my husband who sympathized, but really couldn’t completely understand.

  6. @AK: well, i live in south america, perhaps thats why, plus you are saying 1970’s, so things have changed substantially since then, anyways, i went to mexico and costa rica a couple of times and never came across these toilets…

  7. I had been wondering how to learn such a thing but never imagined there would be a youtube video demonstrating it-I had concluded only one’s mother would teach you such a thing and that I would be in a bad way in a country where this is the only system.

    There are Turkish toilets in France but with paper, if you’re lucky-otherwise we women generally keep paper tissue on hand. This type is found in places like railroads stations and rest areas. I guess they are easier for employees to clean. They’re a lot easier to use when wearing a dress rather than jeans. The flush is often too exuberant-when I hit that button, I make sure the door is already open and I’m on my way out of there, so it doesn’t get me.

  8. i can’t really laugh at this or be to critical, because while growing up as a kid, we lived out in the woods and used an outhouse for a toilet. we had no sewer system. it was common in the area of “America” to do this, pobably still is. so…

  9. I wish I’d seen this years ago when I made my first trip to Morocco and had to use this kind of toilet. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate that the ‘water cleaning’ method is much, much cleaner and better for you than using paper. Of course you don’t need a squat toilet for that. It took me awhile to get used to the ME country hoses which are much better than the communal water pail.:)

  10. My friend visited Jordan and had to use this kind of toilet back in the 70’s. She had stomach problems due to the change in food and water and swore that she’d never return to visit them again until they had a western toilet. I couldn’t bear to watch the video…too gross.

  11. These forms of toilet have such a potential for being gross and ill maintained. Some of the ones I seen and unfortunately had to use while doing Umrah in Saudi, in the mosques no less, were breeding grounds for bacteria we don’t even know about yet I’m sure. So disgusting.

    Oby…I also was forced to use one in my MIL house while very pregnant and with a bad knee at the time…lost count of the number of times I nearly took a header down that nasty little hole. *shudders*

  12. yes, the public eastern style toilets in Saudi are among the worse I’ve seen in travels around the world.

  13. I had to ”go” on one of these in italy…
    Normally I would have looked for a suitable bush instead of a ”toilet” like that but we were in the middle of a city.

    I love German loos on the highway, clean, modern, everything done by sensors…

  14. In Russia this type of toilet was in public places, such as airports, bus or train stations. In older buildings (pre-1940s) or summer homes they would put these too, but in the appartments we had regular kind. I remember going to one of those in Domodedovo airport in Moscow in early 80s. Since then I do not use public restrooms on the land at all.
    In Kolkata they have these along the road without any walls or doors, so you can see man using it. Another “pee station” is in Amsterdam, just a pole with the urinals a la fourchette in the middle of the street… That is a shoker.

  15. In addition to being hygienically better (using water instead of toilet paper to clean oneself), these toilets are environmentally more efficient as they use less water (ie. most of them don’t flush).

    Eventhough I too struggle to use them, I can’t really see any major negative in these toilets.

  16. “Eventhough I too struggle to use them, I can’t really see any major negative in these toilets.”

    I would think that ‘struggling to use them’ is enough of a negative as it is!

  17. I remember these in Indonesia… As a kid they terrified me.

  18. Actually there are modern, hygienic toilets which don’t flush. They collect the waste, it gets processed, and after three years clean mulch comes out.
    So no need to plug these monstrosities.
    I think all modern houses should be build with these toilets instead of the oldfashioned water flushing ones.

  19. One good thing about the squat toilet is that it gets those lazy leg muscles strengthened!!! In the video there was soap. In most toilets you don’t see soap so this can be the really nasty downside to these toilets.

  20. WOW!!! So hilarious…ITs topic of the century. I saw this topic in my mail inbox and could not afford to miss it.
    I never thought that people have problem in using toilet or do not know hw to use different kinds of toilet.

    Regarding cleanliness, it depends on how u maintain cleanliness.

    For Indians, Pakistani, Bangladeshi its really painful when they do not find water in toilet:)

  21. When I was in my late teens, I was teaching English in Bangkok, a city that uses the ‘bear prints and bomb sight’ form of toilet.

    Part of my job as a teacher for people going on to further studies in the US was to teach them how to use a Western toilet. Or, more precisely, how to not use them the same was as the squat-mode model.

    As all of my students were older than I, some considerably so, giving that lesson was rather embarrassing. If only I had known that YouTube was in the future and could have convinced my students to just hold it until then!

  22. Oh gosh John, you reminded me of an incident I was trying to forget but since we are on the topic on different toilets and ways of us….

    I was on a China Air flight from Islamabad, Pakistan to Urumqi, China. I will never forget my abject embarrassment when I got up during the flight to use the toilet. The sign said “open” and the door was unlocked so I gave no thought or hesitation to opening the door. I opened the door, jumped back and screamed. The Afghan elder who was squatting atop the western style toilet screamed. I went back to my seat. The flight attendant ran to the toilet to see what was going on and opened the door. The Afghan man screamed again. She screamed. The poor man refused to come out of the toilet during the rest of the flight!

  23. Carol, quite interesting story.

    It seems time has come for UNO to enforce same style of toilet in all over world:)

  24. Eight years ago, I visited a friend who worked in Bolivia. After starting out on a 4 star hotel in Santa Cruz, I decided to play youngmanbackpacker , and take the bus to Sucre.
    Just a couple of ours into the 12 hours bus journey
    during the night, I’ve got a lose stomach ( to much
    terrific argentine grill food the evening before). And guess every toilet on the road was eastern, and not clean at all.
    To make things worse the next morning, there was a landslide, so we were 3 hours late. When we came to Sucre I jumped into a taxi, went to hotel, got the key, left my luggage in reception and ran to the room and the toilet.
    This was my last trip as a backpacker.

  25. What an experience, Niels!

  26. Hmmm, I don’t know about using bar soap that everyone else who has just cleaned themselves with their left hands has also used. Why is using your hand to wipe crap seen as more hygienic? I can understand the water being hygienic, but the thought of touching poop on purpose … I shudder when I change a baby’s diaper and accidentally get some on me. I have to wash my hands over and over and over to get off any possible residue! But a communal bar of soap I would not be so quick to grab!

    And, yes, trying to keep everything unsoiled and from getting wet … I really admire people who can manage doing all that. I remember upon arriving in Syria one of these toilets greeted me in the airport and I was like “Oh no! Is this what the whole two weeks will be like? Are all the toilets like this?” (We’d just spent 12 hours in Istanbul’s airport which had the western toilets so Damascus’ airport bathrooms were a shock!) I know this may sound strange (and I know I am spoiled), but I was more fearful of these kinds of toilets in Syria than of anything else….except maybe an allergic reaction since they put nuts in so many dishes.

  27. Here is a tip I learned…India does have toilet paper it is just not commonly used. I started to bring toilet paper with me and used that instead of the water/soap method…also hand sanitizer or a travel/hotel sized soap in a ziploc baggie that an be carried in is a big help.

  28. The truth also is that I’ve rarely found soap of any kind in a public toilet (and even some ‘in home’ ones). I suppose soap would be taken but it certainly explains things like food hawker belly, etc. I always carrry some paper with me and most public squats that I’ve visited do have a garbage for paper (DO not throw into the toilet!!!). I also carry hand sanitizer and use it contantly

  29. I agree that it is a very clean method using the eastern toilet, but the communal soap does concern me. In adition… as a women I found it very hard to pull up my pants without feeling completly dry after washing… does anyone have a solution to this? besides having to carry around tissues tissues?…or did I miss something during the washing part? I hate the feeling of being wet (even just a little) and then traveling around in Indonesia until my undies dry…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,277 other followers

%d bloggers like this: