Friday, January 8, 2010

World Traveler, part one - in which I flood a bathroom in the Tokyo airport.

I have a confession to make.

I have never had any interest in going to Asia. Hawaii is very heavily influenced by the Japanese culture, because of the influx of Japanese immigrants who arrived as migrant workers, and stayed to raise families and become integral parts of our community. In fact, some areas of Hawaii - especially on Maui and Oahu, seem more Japanese then Hawaiian. I love the aesthetic, the food, the people....but there is nothing that draws me to travel in Asia. Nothing on my bucket list that I particularly want to see or do or experience or learn, that I cannot conquer from the comfort of home. That may be because the idea of being in a country where I cannot read a street sign or communicate with the people around me (unless I am lucky enough to find someone who speaks English) makes me very uncomfortable. I am not a person who expects everyone else to adjust to my needs. I do not expect to travel abroad and have signs or conversations be in english....and that makes me nervous.

I speak "sesame street spanish" and I studied french for years.....with those two classical languages under my belt I can usually get my point across. Throw in a year or two of Latin and I can dicipher street signs and directions......but not in Asia. Nothing is familiar. Not even the alphabet. I cannot even guess at what is being spoken, or written.

So our whole reason for traveling to Thailand Right This Minute is that we were meeting a Thai friend and his wife. A very worldly couple, who can communicate and make their way through literally ANY situation with grace and aplomb.

Thank God.

And so, the fears and concerns and reservations I had about traveling to Asia sort of evaporated. The stumbling block had been removed. I would have someone with me to help navigate, to order food and ask for directions and read signs. So we packed our bags and off we went. Unfortunately, we had two layovers and a few days on our own before they would arrive in Bangkok. But really, it was just two days. What could go wrong......

In the first ten minutes in the Tokyo airport, I managed to complete flood a bathroom stall, due to an unfortunate mix-up involving a WAY TOO TECHNICALLY ADVANCED TOILET.

Lucy had to go to the bathroom - after sitting on a plane for about 11 hours, I had to also. So I threw down our bags, Sami set up camp next to the water fountain with Max, and I took Lucy to the ladies room.  After waiting in line for several minutes, our turn came, and conveniently the larger handicap stall came open. This toilet had a little panel on the side, with a series of buttons. I studied them carefully trying to figure out which one was the flushing option.

One button was to make a flushing sound.
Just the sound.

One button was for heat.
One was for fan.
One was for bidet.
One actually flushed the toilet. Or so I thought.

I pushed the button, and started to lift Lucy off the toilet seat. And then it happened.

Slowly, like some kind of slo-mo scene in a movie, this little metal arm came sliding out. It looked, for all the world, like the business end of a machine gun. Lucy opened her mouth to scream, just as water began furiously spraying everywhere. In seconds, we were soaked. Lucy was shouting "EWWWWW. DEE-GUSTING!" I was frantically pounding on buttons trying to get this awful feature to retract, while simultaneously trying to block the spray with Lucy's ass - a tactic she found very upsetting.

It turns out, this toilet has a bidet feature for the front and the back.

And the flush? A big metal handle on the back of the toilet. Go figure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so jealous and wish you a safe and happy adventure in your travel. I can not wait to read about it!!!