When it comes to the naked display of my body, I’m definitely a prude.
I don’t enjoy changing in communal places, I could never explore a nude beach, and I don’t even enjoy clothing that feels too much like I’m hanging out there.
The memory of my ACL reconstruction surgery in 2004 comes to mind. After the surgery, I was extremely sick. I couldn’t stop crying, and I’m not even sure why because eventually I was so doped up on morphine… yes, morphine… that I couldn’t feel the pain. In the coming hours, I was to be released back home, but I was sitting in the recovery room, vomiting and crying and just an overall mess. The nurses told me that I should consider staying the night at the hospital, but like any stubborn drunk, I demanded I do the opposite and go home instead.
And that’s when the fun happened. The nurses and my mother all tried to put my clothes back on me so I could leave the hospital, but DEAR GOD how the hell did anyone expect to put me back in my day clothes when I just had a very intrusive knee surgery and was in a brace from ankle to thigh?! Seriously!
So they took off my gown, and that I sat just in my underwear, no bra, and with a giant knee brace, but I was in too much mental and physical agony at that exact moment to even consider the bra or the t-shirt that was being thrown on me. Eventually, I was put back in the gown, but the minutes that I sat there virtually naked in front of so many people did not escape me.
Yes, even under the influence of heavy drugs I had the self-awareness to feel completely awkward.
It probably goes hand in hand with my anxiety, or maybe it’s my insecurity with my body, or a combination of that all and so much more.
That’s fine. That’s who I am, and in most daily life events, it never becomes an issue. But on the Silk Roadistan Tour, it was often a problem… especially when it came to toilets (or lack thereof).
I mean, it’s one thing to have your ass and private parts just hanging out for anyone to view, but to then pull a number 1 (or, hopefully not, a number 2)?! Uhm… yeah, not having it. It was awkward enough for Pat when he walked into a toilet with no doors to see a man taking a poo while talking on his cell phone.
Please, tell me this would be awkward for you, too.
When we were heading towards the Chinese border in Kyrgyzstan, we rode on some of the world’s worst roads, and every bump was like a nightmare for my full bladder. Nothing surrounded us except for open plains in the nearby region… and I didn’t feel like climbing a mountain to find a private place to pee, away from the awkward watching eyes of the other cars and trucks making their way. Luckily, there was a toilet at the border check (albeit horrible) with a wall and door.
But when I crossed into China and had to do security/customs closer to Kashgar, I had to pee yet again and that was my introduction to the Chinese communal trough toilet. Holy hell. No doors, no privacy. Just you and a trough to squat over that’s full of shit and vile smells. I mean, what if you’re on the your period? Or what if you really have to do a number 2?
I would die. Most likely.
Then, when we got to Mongolia, we had more toilet fun… because toilets? What toilets? All you get are these beautifully vast open plains and NOWHERE TO HIDE.
At one ger hostel, we had only some rocks to hide behind, which is fine until you look up and see that a somewhat faraway group of tourists had unknowingly hiked the cliff above you and had a view of you squatting, doing your business.
And poor Pat. Pat got food poisoning at this same ger and had to run outside in the middle of the night behind a rock, freezing cold, with a plethora of peeping goat and sheep eyes watching him intently in the darkness. A little bit of privacy might have been nice, right?
Still, what I can’t understand is how the family living at this ger hostel didn’t themselves care to have a specified toilet location on their property. I mean, that wind out there was damn cold, so wouldn’t a little bit of cover in an outhouse be worthwhile and coveted?
The toilet drama continued past Mongolia and on to the Russian trains. There, it was definitely hit or miss. Our usual questions would entail, “Hey, was there toilet paper in the bathroom? Was it clean? Is it free?” Definitely a normal topic of conversation.
And before any car ride, we had to find a toilet in fear that our only other option would be peeing in the open fields.
It’s just not fun.
Remember when I made that FTU newsletter called Squat Toilet Misery & Mastery?
Well the mastering of squat toilets doesn’t matter when you have no privacy.
I’m a pro squatter at this point in time… but privacy while doing it is what I need most.
What about you? Does no toilet privacy totally make you feel uncomfortable?! And if it doesn’t, how does that work?