Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Every now and again, when going to the teachers' bathroom at school, I'll walk into a cubicle to find an unflushed 'number two' toilet, sans loo paper, staring back at me. It's disgusting. A few weeks ago one of my co-teachers came up to my desk and whisperingly asked if I knew anything about it, hinting that maybe I was the one behind it. I said, "Do you want to know how it's not me? I don't put my toilet paper in the bin, I flush it!" Gasp! Horror! Explain?

School toilet, with bin. By 4pm it's not pleasant!
Given that Korea is one of the more technologically advanced nations on the planet, it is surprising how, uh, shitty, the sanitation system is. The pipes are far too narrow for the amount of people that live here, so there are many instances of overflows, blockages and general stinkery. To combat the blockages, people generally throw their used toilet paper in a bin next to the potty. It is a disgusting habit, and one that many foreigners refuse to follow, myself included.

The downside to this disregard for the rules is that we often find ourselves confronted with blocked toilets, from nothing more sinister than 1-ply paper. The pipes are so small! One morning, The Lovely Gen had to deal with such a problem at home and came up with a genius solution. We didn't have a plunger, so she used the power of Google and fashioned her own device out of the toilet brush and a plastic bag. The bag, once shoved into the toilet, created a vacuum and a few sharp plunges sorted out the block. Easy peasy.

This past weekend we went to a fireworks festival in the coastal city of Busan, and found ourselves in a similar fix at 2am in our hotel room. But this time, no toilet brush was handy! And no shopping packet! So we did the next best thing: hanger and bathrobe wrapper! Thank god we were sober and could sort it out, as the floor was flooding. Also, thank god for drains in the middle of Korean bathroom floors!

TLG wrapped the hanger in plastic and tried to do her usual plunging performance, but it wouldn't create a vacuum. Water was going everywhere, I was helping by taking photos, she was screaming because her arm was in toilet water up to her elbow (TLG: "Thank god this isn't poo water!"). We then tried the second bathrobe's packet, which was used without the hanger. TLG bravely put her hand inside the bag, stuck her arm into the toilet and used her hand as the plunger. Voila! The water retreated!

She then proceeded to attack me with toilet water hands. Luckily we'd gotten an expensive room equipped with a jacuzzi bath to make it all worthwhile.

First attempt: Hanger and bag. Obviously useless.
It's not working. Water everywhere!
Bugger this for a joke, let me just use my hand!
Toilet water hand! I'm gonna get you!!!

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