A Guided Tour of my Vietnamese Bathroom

18 Oct

Welcome to my Vietnamese bathroom! Feel free to take a look around and explore the sights.

Quite pokey isn’t it? Cozy-like. And I personally think that ‘cozy’ is a perfectly fine quality for one’s fortress of solitude. There are however, a few slightly questionable design features to this bathroom.

1. A supplementary urinal.

For some reason it was decided that the addition of a urinal directly in front of the toilet was a good idea. I’m not sure if the bathroom-design visionary involved was aiming at marginally greater convenience for male users and thereby shorter wait times, or if he planned to double capacity by encouraging simultaneous dual-use of the room but whatever his intentions, the end effect was to completely freak out my female housemates (who are unaccustomed to such urinal proximity). I decided to try and make them feel more at home – so I put a fake plant in it.

Note, incidentally, how well stocked we are in toilet paper - an essential provision if you plan to regularly eat Hanoian street food.

Changing the seated scenery from this unsightly eyesore:

To this decorative faux-floral conversation piece:

2. An open-plan shower.

This seamless blending of shower and toilet into what I have termed a “shoilet” is a common design feature of Vietnamese bathrooms. I suppose it was conceived of as a handy compromise when space is limited (although I have also seen it persist in larger bathrooms with plenty of room for a screened shower area) but the certain result is that the entire bathroom becomes a steamy, slippery, sudsy waterworld.

A shower-nozzle's-eye view of the vaguely defined spray zone.

Rogue jets of water maliciously search out my towel, clothes and any unsheltered toilet paper and liberally spatter them. Careless body positioning can expose the toilet seat to a sudden tropical downpour that will present a damp surprise to its next occupant (probably me). I generally try not to contemplate what microscopic wildlife could be swishing around on the tiles between my toes. The worst thing, however, is that the entire bathroom floor remains a wet trap for my sock-covered or dust-covered feet for hours after the shower is used. My female housemates have suggested that I give in and start wearing shower sandals like these:

But I have refused for obvious moral, aesthetic and size-related reasons.

The final odd design feature is one of my own making. As a welcome gift from the university I work at, I was presented with two traditional, painted masks. One hangs above my bed to guard me in my sleep but the other provides welcome company in my curious Vietnamese bathroom.

Yeah, I can have some pretty weird design ideas too.


6 Responses to “A Guided Tour of my Vietnamese Bathroom”

  1. Dave October 18, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    “Aesthetics”? Mike, since when has aesthetics influenced your footwear (as well as shorts) buying tendencies??

  2. June Maitland October 22, 2011 at 7:49 am #

    Very entertaining blog Mike, you will bring the masks home won’t you?

  3. kim wilkinson October 22, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    lol – I remember such interestingly designed bathrooms from my time in vietnam. Most of them didn’t have hot water. Fun times!

    • Mike Pope December 21, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

      I was convinced that the shower in my hotel for my first two weeks in Hanoi had no hot water. I discovered on the last day that turning the switch on at the water heater on the wall was probably a good idea.

  4. Tabitha October 24, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    You totally didn’t even mention the poo hose. You must be completely assimilated now.

    • Mike Pope December 21, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

      My somewhat belated reply is to say that I considered including mention of the poo hose and ultimately decided that I’d leave it unmentioned as a kind of bonus feature for the eagle-eyed. Congratulations!

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