Books can be judged by their covers and countries can be judged by their toilets.
England’s toilets were cold and cramped. Spain’s were often missing toilet seats—uncomfortable for everyday use but efficient considering the Spanish party lifestyle. Austria’s were serviceable. Japan’s, clean and well-stocked, even when they were squatties.
I was first introduced to the squatties, in high school Japanese lectures, as one of a string of crazy things the Japanese do and have—cracked-out game shows, a world-class hotdog-eating champion, saying “yes, maybe” when they mean “no, definitely not” and being perfectly understood, and so on. But during my 2-week stay in the country, I only came across one pottie for which I had to squattie and despite being a public bathroom, it was extremely clean. Leaving Asia for the first time, I had no beef with the squatties.
After China, however, there was much beef. I found out that squatties can be the grossest thing in the world and that Communist China is not as well-stocked as Capitalist Japan. At that time I still had not mastered using the squattie facilities with my pants still around my ankles, so every visit to squattie-filled facilities was a logistical nightmare of trying to avoid the hopefully dirt and water and general filth that covered every surface. Stall time tripled and my upchuck reflex triggered every time I was faced—quite literally, since you’re so much closer to the ground—with the Eastern toilet.
In Spain I learned to expect toilet paper again, which spoiled me for Korea, Thailand, and Cambodia. But after four months of living in Korea, I feel confident in saying I’ve not only mastered the squattie, but also accept it as an equal toilet option. For a defense of that statement, I refer you to here: http://cityawesome.com/busan1/2011/11/shit-aint-right/. But I still think toilet paper outside the stall is ridiculous and no toilet paper whatsoever is pure torture.
Southeast Asia has a twist on the no toilet paper theme. They don’t offer toilet paper, but nor do they require you to flush! Instead, they offer a big bucket of water containing a smaller bucket with a handle for scooping the water out and throwing it into the toilet bowl. Or there’s a hose. I hear rumors it’s also used instead of toilet paper. Instead of. Like rinsing your hands. Buh.
America, although your politics and your abilities on a soccer pitch make you an international laughingstock, rest securely in the knowledge that your toilets are, according to me, the best in the world. Also, I really appreciate how drinkable your water is. And how many of your people speak passable, if often beautifully ungrammatical, English.