Thursday, February 11, 2010

Korean Bathrooms...

So...this is my bathroom.

I've grown up with basically one type of bathroom my entire life. My bathroom here is very similar...with a few minor changes.

First, I want to be thankful what you don't see. A washing machine. Too many of my friends have their washing machine IN their bathroom.

You can't really tell from the picture, but the bathroom floor itself isn't flat. The tiles are angled in such a way that all the water on the floor leads to the drain.

With brings me to my second point...tiles. All my life, I've grown up with bathrooms that had linoleum floors. Everything from my grandparent's house, to the house my dad built with his own 2 hands...all had the same type of flooring. This also led to a problem with water on the floor. If you let water sit there...the floor would rot.

Not in my bathroom.

This brings me to the second thing I am thankful for about my bathroom. In this case, it's something that you can see...a shower...

My shower isn't so much a bathtub, with a curtain. Nor is it a plastic, cage with a drain in the middle. It's more of a glass partition...and that's more than many foreigners have. They just have a washing machine, toilet, and a shower hose that hooks up to the sink. A partitioned shower is luxury that I get to enjoy.

If the bathroom floor is the material as the shower means you can get it just as wet. Not only can you...but you should! Cleaning the bathroom starts with spraying the shower nozzle (if you look closely you can see it's on a hose) in every which direction (except up silly)

The main downside to tile is the cracking grout...that or when the tiles completely pop out of the wall. Which was happening in my apartment in Korea...

Public bathrooms on the other hand are significantly, but not quite radically different....for 3 reasons.

The first is thing that took some getting used to is the squat toilet. Sorry, I don't have a picture at the moment, but I'm thinking twice about storming into a public bathroom in hand...

At first, I found these to be annoying, uncivilized and uncomfortable. But after a just accept it for what it is. In fact...I actually feel slightly better for using one, because as the name are squatting. Therefore you aren't actually touching anything else...while on the traditional toilet...while more comfortable....well you're sitting where 100 strangers sat before you...

Second, public bathrooms here are notorious for being well...public. As can see inside from the outside.

I guess I'm used to public bathrooms being built with right angles in mind. You walk inside and have to immediately take a left turn. I keep telling myself...Toto we're not in Kansas anymore. (which is strange as I've never been to Kansas, nor do I know anyone named Toto...)

I can't count the number restrooms that I've passed with no doors and all the urinals are in plain sight. It's not uncommon to find a restaurant with a mixed bathroom. Not bathroom with a door...that would just make sense...but a room with no door...with arrows guiding both men and women inside. The bathroom itself will have a urinal, a stall and only one sink.

Finally, toilet paper.

It seems like such a simple amenity. You may complain it's not as soft as the luxurious 3-ply-flower-exbroidered-quilted-scented paper you keep at home (or in my case one gigantic pack from Costco that could theoretically last me a decade)

But when you at a place that is find yourself pining for that glorious 1ply sandpaper from high school. Instead...outside of the public restrooms are vending machines almost guessed it...packages of tissue. The kind you normally associate with blowing your nose.

In fact...most Koreans carry these around. Women in their in their man purses.

The Korean public has jumped at the oppurtunity to place advertising on something you carry around with you on any given day. Going down into the subway will sometimes pass you by a little old Korean lady passing out little packages of tissue. I rarely turn down free stuff...and you never know when you're going to need to wipe your....nose...

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