Anyone who has travelled in Southeast Asia knows that using the water closet can be a confusing ordeal. It frequently does not look like the Western water closets that we are used to, so it can require some specialised knowledge to complete your business.
If you are unsure of how to proceed when using the water closet in Malaysia, this article is going to give you the expertise you need to feel fully equipped and ready for any kind of water closet you encounter.
Regular Water Closet with Sprayer
Many water closets that you encounter in Malaysia won’t be so different from a Western toilet. They will have the same porcelain bowl that we are accustomed to, but attached to the wall on the side of the toilet is a metallic sprayer.
Since traditionally people in Malaysia have used water to clean themselves after using the water closet, the sprayer is a modern way of washing. After you have finished using the toilet, you can simply use the sprayer. Many locals will use the sprayer instead of toilet paper, but most Westerners will feel uncomfortable without drying themselves post-wash.
I would recommend that you make a habit of keeping tissues in your bag or your pocket when you go out, just in case there is no paper in the water closet that you are using. That way, you can feel as clean as possible by both spraying and drying yourself.
This second variety of water closet you may encounter in Malaysia is the one that can cause the most confusion for visitors. It looks like a toilet bowl that is set directly into the floor with ridged platforms on either side for you to put your feet. This glorified hole in the ground is a squat toilet, where you are intended to squat flat-footed on the ground in order to do your business.
Most Westerners are not accustomed to this kind of body movement simply because they have never needed to, but this way of relieving oneself is actually the original technique for humans across the planet and is a more natural way to approach water closet activities.
With practice, nearly anyone can achieve this position, but it may take some training or practice squatting at home to get there. It is definitely worth trying to get good at this position if you plan to live for an extended period of time in Malaysia, especially if you will live in a more rural area where you are not guaranteed to encounter Western-style toilets.
Some of these squatting water closets will be equipped with the same sprayer that you find in other water closets in Malaysia, but some of them will simply have a tub of water with a small scooper floating on top. Once you’ve mastered the squat, you will need to know how to properly use the water scooper.
To maintain proper hygiene, you always scoop water with a ‘clean’ hand and then pour it into a ‘dirty’ hand which you use to splash water on your body. You do not pour water on yourself or return water in the scooper to the tub next to the toilet. Whatever water you scoop you should pour out into the toilet. When you are finished, you can pour more water over your dirty hand to rinse it and pour enough water down the toilet to flush it. Always be sure to wash your hands after you exit the water closet or carry hand sanitizer in case there is no soap.
Give Malaysian Water Closets A Try
Now you have all the information you need to feel confident using any kind of water closet you find in Malaysia. So, head on out and give it a try!