Going To The Bathroom Abroad: The Butt Hose Edition

This is my bathroom. As you can see, it’s nothing special (aside from how clean it is). It’s actually nicer than my last bathroom back in the States, with its black mold and peeling linoleum. Because contrary to what some folks back home have envisioned, I’m actually not living in a straw hut. Nor am I not taking dumps crouched down over a squat toilet. Using the bathroom is a totally Western affair.


Look closer—what’s that thing snaking out from the wall and resting perkily in its holster?

Why, it’s a butt hose.

I don’t know if that’s what it’s actually called, but that’s what I call it. Maybe I haven’t been looking closely, but I haven’t seen butt hoses outside of Asia.

At first they confounded me. What the fuck were you supposed to do with that thing? I thought it might be for cleaning and admittedly used it as such once—got a real good angle on those hard-to-reach tiles behind the toilet. But that couldn’t really explain why I’d see the butt hoses around town, in fairly squalid bathrooms where toilets were either missing seats or were of the squat variety, and where toilet paper was a laughably far-fetched wish.

You know those little old ladies that sit outside bus station bathrooms in Latin America and charge you to enter? You know how they give you one painstaking square of toilet paper? I was thinking that Southeast Asia could really stand to learn from that jam. I mean, the pay-to-stand-on-a-scale hustle appears to be worldwide, so why not the charge-for-toilet-paper hustle?

Haha---these signs are reeeeal funny, until you go into a bathroom with muddy foot prints on the toilet seat

Cause they don’t use it.



Well, not everyone doesn’t use it. But from what I hear, the butt hose is the Southeast Asian answer to toilet paper. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense: instead of smearing a dry piece of paper around there, you give the area a refreshing little spritz. It’s kind of genius, and far less intrusive and intimidating than a bidet, with its cranks and levers that strike fear and worries of cultural inadequacy into the hearts of Americans.

The butt hose takes up a lot less space too—just sits there innocuously against the wall, as if to say, “Use me if you’d like, madame.” It doesn’t stare at you from beside the toilet, in that way that makes you comfortable and unable to look away while you’re dropping one, wondering if you’re a less evolved human being because you can never figure out how to spell, much less use, that European contraption of ass-refinement. It’s a metaphor, really, when you think about it.

I’ve become a big fucking fan of the butt hose. Once it was explained to me, I began to work it in to my shit-taking repertoire—cautiously at first, perfecting my preferred angle and pressure. Now I’m a convert. A missionary, actually, since I felt the need to carry the good news to a friend over lunch yesterday:

“Dude, have you gotten into the butt hose?”

“The what?”

“You know, that hose you see in all the bathrooms?”

“Yeah, what’s up with that?”

[Insert semi-graphic demo and staring eyes from the neighboring tables.]

It’s really taken my dump-taking to a new level. But, because I’m so fucking international and can’t be confined to any one culture, I’ve taken to doubling up—using both the butt hose, then toilet paper to dry. It’s like a mini-shower for my nethers. And considering how much you sweat here, any extra freshening is a welcome affair.

So hello there, new friend. You’re looking fresh today. What’s that you say? Well, don’t mind if I do…

16 Responses to “Going To The Bathroom Abroad: The Butt Hose Edition”

  1. 1 randy February 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    It is not just all over SE Asia but South Asia too. And from secondary sources in China and Korea too.
    My two favorite stories involving butt hoses are…
    1) I met an 70ish guy from Australia in Siam Reap and within 2 minutes of talking to him, he proudly told me that he had to install one at home (he was a very repeat visitor to Cambodia) “not for the reason you are thinking, but just in case there are skid marks on the toilet.”
    2) Met a very new SE Asia traveler, she came out of the cafe’s bathroom horrified, thinking that they washed the dishes in the bathroom.

    • 2 paigedizzle February 7, 2012 at 11:43 pm

      To be fair, I have witnessed dishwashing from the convenience of a bathroom (in both Thailand and India). The dish tub wasn’t filled by the butt hose, but instead by the spigot used to fill buckets for bathing/showers.

      • 3 laurenquinn February 8, 2012 at 7:28 am

        I was under the impression that the spigot/faucet was multi-functional. Way easier to fill a bucket that way…

  2. 4 curiouscatontherun February 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Love it! I found the butt hose a bit confusing the first time I saw one too. But I agree on using it in tandem with the humble TP. I don’t like walking around wet down there!

  3. 5 Ana February 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    We have butt hoses in the UAE too! I believe your international way is how it’s used here: hose then paper. Some nicer hotels and restaurants offer little towels in place of TP, because let’s face it – a dry towel feels so much better on a wet butt.

  4. 7 Kyle February 6, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    God I would kill for a butt hose. We get little tea pots. You have to position yourself in like a vertical fetal position. Seems like a steady flow of water would really facilitate a full on anal cleanse. Still the challenge here is fun?

  5. 8 jeelago February 7, 2012 at 7:32 am

    I’ve been in the market for one of these for a long time, searching amazon under “hand-held bidet.” Actually saw sth very similar in a U.S. store recently, marketed as “cloth diaper sprayer” …for the initial cleaning of poopy cloth diapers, you see. Would probably find many more interesting items were I to search on “butt hose” instead!

    related, from Finland

  6. 9 Nate February 7, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    It seems like potty training all over again, but, I’m willing to give it a go.

    No man shall say that I am stuck in my ways when it comes to ass hygiene.

    No sir.

  7. 10 hannahinhanoi February 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    I’ve been living in Vietnam for almost 8 months but haven’t gotten into the butt hose–also called the ‘bum gun’–yet. I learned early on to carry my own toilet paper.

    Interestingly, I’ve begun to prefer squat toilets to western ones. They are usually cleaner in Vietnam, probably because everyone is accustomed to using them.

  8. 11 Emily McManusE February 15, 2012 at 7:44 am

    LOVED this post. I traveled through SE Asia a few years back and the “butt hose” just was too intimidating for me to try. Seeing as I’ll be moving to Thailand in March, I now welcome the new challenge and look forward to seeing how the refreshing spritz can become a part of my bathroom routine!

  9. 12 jimmymac1981Jimmy March 14, 2012 at 9:18 am

    I love the arse spray. I used it every day when I worked in Korea. There’s nothing cleaner than an arse spray then a quick polish off with toilet paper.

    Once, however, I mistook those weird sprays you get in South East Asian airport toilets for some sort of arse cleaner soap. After the stinging subsided I realised it was a bleachy soap for wiping the seat with.

  10. 13 Jimmy March 14, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Not sure why my name appeared as jimmymac1981Jimmy. It comes across as though I really like my name.

  11. 14 La Viajera Morena March 14, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    That’s great I was curious about that when i first came to Cambodia as well and then I just gueesed it was kind of like a bidet, now my guess has been confirmed πŸ™‚ it is also good for cleaning out any leftovers in the toilet hehe

  12. 15 John Tran March 22, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Just LOL.

    How did I end up here πŸ˜›

  1. 1 How to be Sick in Jakarta | Journals + Jackfruit Trackback on July 30, 2012 at 5:21 pm
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Lauren Quinn is a writer and traveler currently living in Hanoi. Lonely Girl Travels was a blog of her sola travels and expat living from 2009 to 2012. She resides elsewhere on the internet now.

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