Friday, September 27, 2013

Final preparations: Indonesian Adventure

I will be heading off to the World Toilet Summit tomorrow! It's a scary and exciting new adventure. My first trip to Asia, my first big conference, and certainly the first time I have had to take this many pills to go anywhere (felt slightly queasy after the first malaria dose this morning, but, as my friends pointed out it's much better than actually getting Malaria!)

I have done some minimal preparations for what to expect from traveling abroad. Most notably I have been warned that they are quite serious about the death penalty for drug trafficking (I can only assume my malaria tablets are exempt) that the country is predominantly muslim so conservative dress is advised, but head coverings are not required, and that the people are generally hospitable.

Then there's the all-important question about toilets.

I have, thus far in my 24 years never traveled outside the realm of comfortable western plumbing. I've used dirty toilets, composting toilets, outhouses of various descriptions, but all along the seated throne model and all, at least theoretically, catering to those with a preference for toilet paper.

Indonesia (like most places) is reported to have an eclectic mix of toilets, from holes in the ground, to western-style seats. They seem, from what I have read to be a predominantly washing rather than wiping culture. Whether or not there will be toilet paper is, though I hate to admit it, one of the things I am going with most trepidation about.

The differences will likely be made even more interesting by the fact that I am at a conference that deals with sanitation, and that Solo's particular goal in hosting this event is to increase their attractiveness as a tourist destination. Their press release states:
Nowadays,  looking for clean and hygiene toilet is a problem  when people travel and being out of the house. Not only in Indonesia, but all over the world, awareness of public facilities is  so  minor, very few nation who provide excellent public service what called TOILET. The awareness of the need of these facilities is not there yet, even though we all know the mobillities and the travelers are increasing. Clean toilet become a marketing tools and competition among  tourists business, hospitals, airport  etc. With the damage of the environment of course  a better toilet in rural and urban become very important to prevent diseases.
So off I go, armed with my camera, an ipad, a couple million rupees, and a lot of curiosity.

Despite feeling terribly under-prepared, there is one phrase of Indonesian I have made sure to learn:

Di mana kamar kecil?
(Where is the toilet?)

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