Friday, January 22, 2010

World Traveler Part 6: In which we learn the true meaning of toilet paper.

Our  friends arrived from Australia in the middle of the night. One by one, we wandered out of the bedroom, sweaty, disheveled, wrinkled and puffy, eyes squinting in the lamp light.

I am sure we made quite the entrance, our little clan, half dressed and suddenly shy in our PJs.

With a few hugs and hours of conversation, we fell back into the familiar rhythm of old friends, taking turns smoking on the lanai, mixing cocktails in the kitchen, and pouring bowls of cereal for the kids. By 6am most of the group were headed off to bed for a few hours, but the kids and I decided to grab breakfast first in the restaurant downstairs. We marched into the restaurant half dressed, pajamas tucked into shoes, sweaters pulled on to keep us warm in the frosty early-morning air conditioning. The server offered bowls of hot chocolate to Max and Lucy, who accepted them with glee. Not to be outdone, Max also made a beeline for the toaster, where he began to smear Nutella on every carbohydrate on the buffet. Lucy helped herself to a heaping plate of watermelon, and steadily worked her way through the entire plateful, seeds and all.

I clutched a cup of coffee, and nibbled on a piece of bacon. I definitely needed a few more hours of sleep before I would be up for anything.

By noon we were all ready to go. We walked to the subway, took a train into the center of Bangkok, and headed down one of the countless tiny side streets in this city, to the most unassuming restaurant I have ever had the pleasure of eating at. It was open air - our table appeared to be set up on one side of an alley. The tables were covered in oilcloth, and every few feet down the table was a roll of toilet paper.

I didn't know if that was a good sign (yay ! They have a toilet !) or a very, very bad sign indeed (there is no bathroom, but grab some paper and find a corner !)

It turns out, it had nothing to do with bathrooms at all. Apparently, in addition to being an acceptable substitute for a napkin (those stupid americans and their frivolous paper napkins ! FOR SHAME!) you also use the toilet paper provided to wipe off your plate and silverware before using them.

Because man, whenever I eat, the first thing I want to do is wipe my eating utensils with tp that has been torn off a roll that has been touched by a large number of people with hands that are most likely NOT CLEAN. But I did not utter one peep. Not a one. If my friends had told me to wrap the paper around my head and make a big fucking bow I would have done it. And you know what, I don't know how it came to be accepted, but chances are it caught on for a damn good reason. After traveling around the country I can assure you that it was not an isolated incident. Toilet Paper is KING around here, and they don't want any of that soft stuff that sheds and leaves a fine layer of fuzz all over everything,

Oh No.

Toilet paper is to Thais as Baby Wipes are to me. Which is to say, multipurpose.

Wipe your dishes, wipe your nose, wipe your mouth, wipe your ass. It's ALL GOOD.

So note to self, when traveling, always ALWAYS have a roll of toilet paper in your bag.

1 comment:

qandlequeen said...

well, I DO travel with TP and there is always a roll in a ziplock bag in my car. I'll make a note of the necessity if ever I leave the country - good to know.