We all travel with different eyes and that makes group travel even more fun. I would miss so many things that others notice and point out and vice versa.
When I travel, I get a kick out of the differences of very common things. I can have as much fun roaming a grocery store in a foreign country as seeing a world class museum. And I have already dedicated an entire chapter of my future book to toilets.
But I keep discovering the variety of ways we do the same thing and it cracks me up.
For instance, all the names we have for bathroom business. One trip with me and you'll learn we have a "code" for a potty stop. T.E.O. is short for "Tinkle Every Opportunity".
I'm writing this while touring Thailand. Our tour guide calls it the "Happy Room". But she said the local Thai people would be more familiar with women announcing "I'm going to the jungle to pick some flowers." For the men, just say "I need to shoot the rabbit", which is their version of "going to see a man about a horse" and makes as much sense.
I've already made some memories while picking flowers in the jungle. Our flight to Bangkok went through Tokyo.
Husband Doug thought I'd gotten lost but I came out with a story complete with photos. Listen to this- there was an armrest on one side of the stool. With a push of a button, I could heat my seat, add spray to my stay-bidet style, or another button which kinda looked like the washer for your windshield. I was scared to try it.
Another button offered a musical note and even had a volume adjustment. Just when I was sure there was karaoke in my stall, I noticed the tiny print that read "Flushing Sound." This was way more sophisticated than just the two flush move in America.
There were some additional features that included "Powerful Deodorizer" and "Water Pressure" but I had already overstayed a proper visit. I was exiting the ladies room when I noticed on the handicapped stall was a second sign for " Elder".
The wheelchair I recognized, the "elder" was a person leaning on a stick, or holding themselves until they could get to the happy room. The small gathering of women present in the potty agreed it was a good idea and we needed those in the states.
I remember in China, our guide used the term "going to sing a song in the happy room". We all giggled when she said it not believing that anyone could be so modest about a normal human function, especially in a country that they all hang their undies on sticks out their windows.
She even rated the toilets, a five star had western style stools with tissue. Needless to say, hovering over a hole didn't earn many stars. We learned to never "go sing" without being prepared with "sheet music"!
On our Japan Air flight there was a little sign that I have seen before where there are lots of Asian visitors. The logo is the big red circle with a line drawn through it over the image of a person squatting on the toilet.
The multiple languages included English stating, "Do not stand on toilet seat". I can't speak for others but when I finally break down and make that little trip to that tiny closet of a restroom on an airplane, I just hope I can be good to go without adding any gymnastics to the routine.
I paid five bahts to get happy somewhere north of Bangkok. That's about 14 cents. It wasn't the high rise western stool, but the ceramic hole that makes us American gals understand why they wear skirts over here or at least wish we had stayed with the yoga.
There was a bucket and a dipper for DIY flushing. I would have gladly paid more to sing and get happy. Just sayin'.
Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.