The Turkish Toilet

Muscat's Turkish toiletWhile on the subject of all things Turkey, Muscati & wife posted a picture of this toilet they found in a newly remodeled building in Muscat.

For those that are not from this part of the world, this is what we commonly refer to as a "Turkish toilet" and it can still be found in a number of public bathrooms across the Middle East. And yes, it can be still found in Turkey. I came across one in Istanbul nearly two years ago.

I’m one of those who is totally grossed by this "hole" and wish they would stop making this monstrosity. Read the comments as well, they are eye-opening and very detailed 😉 I hope this didn’t
gross you out 😉 I just thought that this "hole" was worth highlighting. Enjoy!

Via: [Chan’ad]


  1. jareer February 27, 2005 at 7:16 am

    What an interesting subject!
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Natasha February 27, 2005 at 7:19 am

    Since I know you too well, I’m assuming you are being sarcastic;-)

  3. jareer February 27, 2005 at 7:20 am

    Speaking of Turkish stuff, Turkish coffee is the best !

  4. jareer February 27, 2005 at 7:23 am

    I don’t exactly know what you mean by saying you know me well; believe it or not, we once met !

  5. Hubby February 27, 2005 at 7:45 am

    Actually, it is a curious subject. My mother, who just made her first appearance on this blog, once remarked she’d like to pen a book “Toilets I have known.” She’s been a few spots and is one who always likes to note “the facilities.” I’m sure it’s no big deal to the guys, generally. But the ladies are in a constant search for clean facilities.
    And she told me one important note about eating in restaurants. If the bathrooms aren’t clean, it says a whole lot about the kitchen.
    My mom’s worst was a ‘facility’ somewhere in S. America that required tip toeing through a chicken yard. I understand she believes the best are in Spain, some kinda toilet culture over there. Perhaps she’ll share more on this ;P
    My worst was in Ciudad Juarez Mexico; must be something magical south of the border. It looked much akin to the situation Quentin Tarantino found himself in during a cameo in “Desperado.” It was scary. But then, as a guy, I just worked it out. But I never forgot it (it was 15 years ago). Prostitutes took my money for its use.
    Others of note: I always liked the one at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC for the stand up procedure (males only). It was basically a narrow, long metal sink with one side higher than the other and a stream of water constantly running down the back wall. The guy on the low end had the best or worst view, depending on your perspective. Apparently, I was told, the beer situation during Washington Redskin games made for frequent visits so this was a “money saver,” somehow using less water.
    Can’t say I like the Turkish variety. I’ve used them but only in a pinch. I’ve heard the “more hygienic” thing and can’t quite work it out. Seems like they would be hard to break though. Working at Ad Dustour newspaper in Amman, my little paper, The Star had the sit-down facility, which couldn’t be found anywhere else in the building. We had the ladies lining up for usage. They’d pop in our offices looking around expectantly. We’d just point. Those were some of our proudest moments.

  6. jareer February 27, 2005 at 8:22 am

    Haven’t seen more “disgusting” than those called “Honey Buckets”; widely used in the US.
    The funny thing though ; you have no other options sometimes. Back to Turkish, I thought those were called “Arabic toilets”, while the currently used ones are called “Ifranji toilets”; ifranji means, Franks or something related to Franks. When I was in the army, I have seen even worse; again, I will not share more of it unless you ask me to. What an interesting subject this morning; while I was waiting for my coffee to warm up in the microwave, I came to look at the latest post here; to those who been to US, and maybe European facilities; I am still confused and could not get an answer to my old, and new question. Why do public restrooms in US have half doors, and gaps that the person inside would not feel comfortable !

  7. Roba February 27, 2005 at 9:12 am

    Hehehe, Natasha! I’m cracking up at this post…
    Like Jareer, I always thought they were called “3arabi”. Personally, I think they’re more hygienic in certain public places(like restrooms in the middle of the desert in Saudi Arabia). Otherwise, they’re just simply pointless.

  8. metalordie February 27, 2005 at 1:01 pm

    Trust hubby to write so much about a hole in the ground. Hahahaha…
    Actually, the picture Natasha posted is a FAKE. A FRAUD. A RUSE. A FEINT. Wait I dropped my thesaurus.
    WHY? Because it is almost spotlessly clean. I have never, ever seen a Turkish toilet look like that and having driven through Turkey three times, I had to stop off at the odd place.
    And then some.
    Shivers down my … spine.

  9. iyas February 27, 2005 at 1:26 pm

    Errmmm…I never thought I’d say this, but I agree with metalordie here 🙂 The thing can be used as an ad for Mr Clean.
    On the other hand, it only reminds me of UJ days…and camping in Wadi Rum.

  10. jareer February 27, 2005 at 1:33 pm

    Speaking of toilets, here is an interesting-related story I read lately:
    “Ever been to this situation before?”
    I was barley sitting down when I heard a voice from the other stall saying:”Hi, How are you?”
    I am not the type to start a conversation in the restroom, but I don’t know what got into me, so I answer, somewhat embarrassed” Doing just fine!”
    And the other guy says” So, what are you up to?” What kind of question is that? At that point, I am thinking this is too bizarre so I say”Uhh-, I am like you, just traveling!” At this point, I am just trying to get out as fast as I can when I hear another question: “Can I come over?” Ok, this question is just too weird for me, but I figured I could just be polite and end the conversation. I tell him “No, I am a little busy right now!!” Then I hear the guy say” Listen, I’ll have to call you back. There is an idiot in the other stall who keeps answering my questions”.

  11. Linda February 27, 2005 at 1:44 pm

    hahaha, that was very funny jareer. where did u hear that?
    this does look very clean. why is the whole that small? the only tome i ever heard of this was from my parents when they lived in Jordan many years ago. i just cant understand how a girl can be put in this situation.

  12. Muscati February 27, 2005 at 2:49 pm

    Oh man, I’ve been blogging for close to a year without even replies to my posts. One picture of an Arabic toilet and I get linked all over!

  13. Silly Girl February 27, 2005 at 3:16 pm

    Muscati’s globe-trotting toilet makes a a guest appearance here as well I see 😉

  14. Hubby February 27, 2005 at 3:18 pm

    In defense of the hole, I think Muscati said this was new construction. So it hasn’t suffered at the hands of man (and the occasional woman). Give it time. I’m sure it’ll meet your imagination head on.
    BTW I’m not sure where I read it (maybe on Muscati’s site or Chan’ad’s) but I’m still chuckling at the guy that thought this sucker was for washing the feet. Ahahahah LOL! >:-O

  15. Rivda February 27, 2005 at 3:21 pm

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned anything about the “flushing” system in these toiletes.

  16. Safoora February 27, 2005 at 3:22 pm

    Damn! Now I know why people are so angry in the Middle East. I would be too if I had to do my jobs with that! I wonder if the American occupation in Iraq has a toilet policy. Natasha, are there toilet fundamentalists in the region?

  17. Hubby February 27, 2005 at 3:40 pm

    Rivda, do you have a secret you’d like to share? 🙂 As far as I can recall, the only really sort of unique thing is that you pull a chain hanging down and then “fire in the hole,” there’s a great awakening in the hole that takes care of anything that might need taking care of, so to speak. I’m not sure how it deals with anything beyond the ordinary, but, again, I’ve been told somehow this design is more hygienic.
    And be it Turkish or Arab it is a pretty easy to maintain design is it not? Too bad it just doesn’t work for so many of us out here. And then there’s this.

  18. jareer February 27, 2005 at 3:48 pm

    I remembered this one as well.
    A guy from the desert enters the city. He was introduced to the toilet system he sees for the first time. They forgot to tell him all details. He goes back to where he came from amazed and told his friends: wow, you go to the restroom, once you are done, you flush, and everything is gone. There is even some water left in the toilet after that to wash your face with.

  19. iyas February 27, 2005 at 5:01 pm

    I am surprised no one mentioned the faucet and its attached hose to the left of the “shit pit” in the picture! If you thought assuming position to do business is hard enough, try using the hose without getting water all over your pants or skirt. *Sigh* I miss my bidet back home.

  20. Linda February 27, 2005 at 5:57 pm

    is the hose there to clean your hands, iyas or is it for…?

  21. jareer February 27, 2005 at 6:20 pm

    Please wrap up the subject. Its going in all directions now. This happens when the shi… hits the fan.

  22. Rivda February 27, 2005 at 6:23 pm

    Yes, “hubby” I do have a secret about flushing that I’d like to share with you: it’s called the “bucket.” That hose or the facucet cannot be for flushing, because, if you think about it, the hose and the faucet lack water pressure to do the cleaning. Here is how the process of flushing actually takes place: you fill a bucket with water, and taking several steps backward, you hurl the water onto the surface of the toilet meanwhile cringing, in the hope that no sh** will fly at you. I have more secrets to share, but I think this is enough for one day.

  23. luckkucky February 28, 2005 at 12:28 am

    That is like some toilet in usually agricultural homes and barracks here in Portugal 20-30 years ago. Usually they arent build anymore, but there are some still around.

  24. Natasha February 28, 2005 at 1:51 am

    Trust me, as a woman it is VERY hard to use this bathroom. I’m sure it was created by a man who was too self-obsessed to think about the biological make-up of the other gender;-)

  25. Arash February 28, 2005 at 4:54 am

    These are the only kind you can find in public places in Iran, especially those built after the revolution. Partly because the mullahs claim that it is healthier to squat rather than seat. There’s also a clause in the Shari’a that you have to enter the cubical with your left foot. Yes, they are experts in everything!

  26. Arash February 28, 2005 at 5:13 am

    Haha, I just found a picture of a urinal with a shower head (scroll down)! This is from a place outside the “holy city” of Qom, and should be amongst the handful of urinals installed in Iran. Mind you the mullahs have also ruled pissing-while-standing illegal, so finding one of these in the pilgrims’ route to Qom is kind of ironic. But you don’t want to be najes before the prayers, so a shower head is also installed. Now either their customers have, er, rather extended “members”, or people take off their pants to avoid getting wet with that large shower head, defying the whole concept of easy and fast to use urinals!

  27. Arash February 28, 2005 at 5:22 am

    Rivda, the secret with the hose is to block the flow of water halfway with your thumb, thus creating a high pressure flow that cleans everything. I had never heard of anyone using a bucket of water, that’s just unnecessary!

  28. Muscati February 28, 2005 at 7:31 am

    Arash, that’s not a shower head. It’s what they call in Arabic a “mashtaf” which is used to clean yourself after you’re done. Most households have them now as well as most public toilets.

  29. Arash February 28, 2005 at 8:08 am

    Yes Muscati, I’m familiar with the concept. But that thing is too big to be a “mashtaf” and besides I can’t imagine anyone using it without baring their behinds. But apparently, as suggested in the text, that urinal stall also has shower curtains! I know it was too good to be true!

  30. metalordie February 28, 2005 at 9:07 pm

    Check this out:
    Experts Gather in China for Toilet Summit
    Associated Press
    BEIJING – Laugh all you want, say public hygiene experts at the World Toilet Summit, but the importance of “loos” you can use is no joke.
    The three-day event, which began Wednesday in Beijing, is an international commode conference. Some 150 scholars, toilet designers and environmentalists from 19 countries gathered to exchange ideas on topics such as the latest toilet technologies, lavatory management tips and the relationship between toilets and tourism development.
    “People are saying ‘We want good toilets!’ because toilets are a basic human right and that basic human right has been neglected,” said Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organization, a co-sponsor of the summit.
    China, known for fetid public toilets that often are little more than open trenches, is eager to show off its advances while preparing for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Delegates to the conference are to be taken on a tour of new and renovated public toilets in Beijing.
    But with a packed conference schedule of slide shows, lectures and question-and-answer sessions, there was very little room for humor.
    “You can laugh at it for a short time,” said Sim, whose group is based in the hyper-clean island nation of Singapore. “But after a few seconds, you should start to pay serious attention to the subject” that affects your quality of life.
    The convention is in its fourth year, with Singapore, Seoul and Taipei as previous hosts. Participants this year came from countries as far away as Finland, Japan and the United States.
    Photos of showcase lavatories were also displayed at the conference, from a ladybug-shaped one in a public garden to another modeled after a grass hut in a wildlife park. Facilities with baby-changing stations, wheelchair ramps and gleaming white ceramic urinals were also featured.
    “New public toilets are an important symbol to demonstrate the development of the city,” said Liang Guangsheng, deputy director of Beijing’s Municipal Administrative Committee.
    In the past three years, Beijing has spent $29 million on building or renovating 747 restrooms at tourist spots, according to the city government.
    “The toilets are sanitary, convenient and private,” Yu Changjiang, director general of the city’s tourism bureau said. The city also aims to make them suitable for users of all ages, for the disabled, and energy and water-efficient.
    “People settle for good food, good clothes and good living conditions without paying enough attention to the toilet,” Yu said. “Toilet issues are a very important symbol of people’s quality of life.”
    The city has come up with a rating system of one to four stars for its public wash rooms, reportedly based on such criteria as granite floors, remote-sensor flushes, automatic hand-driers and piped-in music.
    The capital now has 88 four-star lavatories, 161 that qualify for three stars, 312 for two and 110 for one. Countless others, are perhaps best not mentioned.
    Maintenance is as important as construction, said Simon Tay, one of the speakers at the summit.
    “It’s something that China needs to think about,” said Tay, chairman of Singapore’s National Environment Agency, a government organization. “I hate the word luxury toilet because really good toilets should be an everyday common thing. It doesn’t have to look like the Shangri-La toilet … in order for it to be something that we can be proud of.”

  31. metalordie February 28, 2005 at 9:09 pm

    Oh the fun of puns – they a keep a rollin in…
    Flush with pride, China hosts toilet summit
    Improved hygiene part of Beijing’s commitment to 2008 Games
    By Toby Louie
    NBC News
    Updated: 2:35 p.m. ET Nov. 17, 2004
    BEIJING – While Beijing’s success in winning the rights to host 2008 Olympics has gained considerable media attention, it also has added impetus to a slew of other developments in the Chinese capital, including the hosting this week of the fourth annual World Toilet Summit.
    The three-day conference is expected to add to the growing toilet-awareness in Beijing.
    In addition to the development of stadiums, subway stations, and roads, toilet reconstruction is also being added to the growing Olympic tab.
    In fact, the Chinese government has already spent over $24 million since the toilet reconstruction project in Beijing started three years ago, in anticipation of a bid for the games.
    This week’s summit will host delegates from around the world who will discuss and implement plans to clean up the toilets in the Chinese capital. Academics, environmentalists, sanitation authorities, and toilet designers are among the attendees.
    Fixing up fixtures
    The challenge of improving the Beijing bathroom break is formidable, according to experts and visitors.
    As a first step, the restrooms across from Tiananmen Square, an inevitable tourist hotspot in 2008, are now staffed by two attendants who clean throughout the day.
    And although the facility still has the noticeable stench consistent in most of the city’s public restrooms, cleanliness and hygiene are becoming larger concerns.
    The Olympics will give China a chance to show the rest of the world that it has caught up with the times and having clean toilets is part of the country’s appearance.
    “Toilets represent the level of development of a country, a region,” the deputy director of Beijing’s Municipal Bureau of Tourism, Yu Debin, told a local newspaper.
    Zhang Wei Guang, who moved to Beijing from Lian Yun Gong in Jiangsu province, agrees that China’s image to the outside world is connected to a foreigner’s bathroom experience.
    “Some people might think it is a little thing, but it gives a visitor an impression of the city,” Zhang said. “When I got in from the train station I found the smell from the toilets to be unbearable.”
    The Beijing Tourism Administration reports that one-third of all tourist complaints are about bathroom conditions.
    A foreign exchange?
    According to Steve Bielinski and Jerilin Buzzetta, two American students studying at Peking University in Northwest Beijing, frequenting the city’s toilets has added to a unique study-abroad experience.
    Bielinski noted that users have to buy a roll of toilet paper off of a vendor in the basement of a Beijing department store for approximately $1.27. “For a supposedly Communist country, when it comes to toilet paper, it is every man for himself,” Bielinski said.
    Buzzetta has had similar adventures in the Beijing bathrooms and is happy that the city is taking steps to improve its facilities before the Olympic Games.
    “I think it’s a good idea because if a student such as myself who has lived in Beijing for three months has yet to conquer the hole in the ground, then I highly doubt that an athlete or fan, who would only be in Beijing for two weeks could get used to Chinese-style toilets,” she said.
    Zhongxie Jintao, a Beijing-based investment company has recently pledged to work toward modernizing China’s toilets.
    The company will invest approximately $193 million to develop 2,000 new public restrooms and hopes other private investors will also add to the reconstruction project.
    In an effort to clean up existing toilets, the Beijing Tourism Administration has even implemented a bathroom rating system that ranges from a four-star restroom down to a one-star facility.
    Three and four-star toilets will be equipped with changing tables, various sized urinals in the men’s bathrooms, and may even have hand lotions and hot towels. One-star and two-star restrooms will not have these extras, but all facilities will accommodate the handicap.
    Toby Louie is a researcher currently working at NBC News Beijing.

  32. Warda March 1, 2005 at 2:29 am

    In defense of the author….You need to see the other blog link to realize that this ‘toilet’ was in a model well maintained building. As for the whatever toilet as I mentioned it’s a total balancing maneuver that allows you to make full use of the facility.

  33. Dad Tynes March 2, 2005 at 2:23 pm

    At last count there were 32 comments here, making it one of the most humorous locations among blogs, I’m sure.
    The French adaptation of a Turkish-type toilet is hilarious as are so many of the comments.
    No one has indicated my concern, however. Long robes are common in the Middle East, male or female wearers. How does this attire manage in the Turkish/Arab toilet? Do they remove the long garments entirely, making use of the facilities lengthier than one might expect?

  34. iyas March 3, 2005 at 5:12 am

    Mr. Tynes,
    Having 30+ comments on such a post is an example on how much Middle Easterns in general, and Arabs in particular, know about $hit. Surrounded by $hitty situations, if not living in one, forces an individual to develop a keen interest in such topics and gives rise to many self-proclaimed experts on matters of crap.
    Not having worn the male “robe” and not recalling being a cross dresser at any point in my life, I can only speculate on the situation with the attire in Turkish toilets. My guess is that an individual lifts his/her robe above the waist, uses his/her elbows to keep the sides and back of the robe up, holds the front part with his/her teeth, then assumes position.
    But then that’s just a wild guess…

  35. metalordie March 3, 2005 at 2:50 pm

    Iyas is right on at least one point – use of the teeth in such an endeavour is most common. No, this is not a joke.
    Question is, what about people with weak or failing teeth?
    Does it all go to waste?

  36. Rivda March 3, 2005 at 5:56 pm

    In case of bad teeth, one can use his/ her own lips instead. Using dentures is not a bad idea, however.

  37. Linda March 3, 2005 at 7:26 pm

    you guys, you use the chin. speaking from a woman’s perspective, when wearing a long gown, dress etc. you gather it all up and put it under your chinand hold your chin tight ahainst your chest, and walla. why do i feel i am in an episode of seinfeld?

  38. Linda March 3, 2005 at 8:23 pm

    oh yeah, the reason its better to stick it all under your chin against your chest is because the lower parts of your robe / gown/ dress, etc. is closer to the floor. floors are usually dirty, thus you would not want to put that in your mouth near your teeth and lips.but im just a neat freak and a germaphobe.

  39. jareer March 3, 2005 at 8:32 pm

    Can you please move this post to the archives !
    Thank you.

  40. Linda March 3, 2005 at 11:10 pm

    oh come on jareer, you are such a party pooper, no pun intended 😉

  41. Jareer March 3, 2005 at 11:20 pm

    Do you still find this post entertaining? Give me a break (or a clutch).

  42. Linda March 4, 2005 at 2:58 am

    the fact that you keep coming back to comment on it jareer shows you at least still find it entertaining 😉

  43. Natasha March 4, 2005 at 3:46 am

    Jareer, I have to admit I’m enjoying this post. Therefore it is here to stay;-))

  44. jareer March 4, 2005 at 4:45 am

    You are wrong , Linda
    I don’t keep coming back. You do.
    If I did, thats because I want to see it removed. With all due respect Natasha, nothing stays. Once more, this proves you always side against me no matter what. I should start using reversed psychology. Keep this post please, never remove it ! Its funny, entertaining and your readers seem glued to it. keep up the good work.

  45. Linda March 4, 2005 at 11:55 am

    yes jareer you could come back and scroll over it to see if its gone. you dont have to click on it and keep commenting if you dont like it so much;) i just like arguing with you jareer for the sake of argiung. nothing personal.


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