Disclaimer: This entire entry made be considered by many as an *Aside,* so be forewarned.
We were told we should bring toilet paper with us to the Philippines: in most places there would be none. After careful consideration, even though in the western world this probably qualifies as a necessity, we decided to not bring TP with us as we were already overloaded with Scuba gear. We reasoned that if it was a problem, we could pick some up at the Base Exchange (BX) or the Commissary.
Obviously stateside TP was no problem. In base lodging TP was no problem. The Japanese are probably more obsessed with toileting than Americans so Okinawa offered no TP problems.
*Aside* The public bathroom stalls in Okinawa were amazing. There was a little seat in the corner where you could strap in your baby while you used the facility. There were instructions (with illustrations) on how to sit on the toilet. My grandson, Jackson is definitely doing it wrong according to those instructions. Then there is the “electronic arm.” You can choose (I’m not sure about all of this as it was in Japanese, but there were some pictures illustrating the different options): heated seat, cooled seat, water (ala bidet), warm air, and variations on all of the aforementioned. If there hadn't been a line of women waiting, I swear I would have tried them all. IHowever, it was an odd sensation when I sat down on the heated seat, kindly activated by the previous occupant. It was as though I had a personal attendant, someone who had been sitting there, keeping it warm just for me.
When we arrived on our C-130 at Clark in the Philippines, I got worried.
*Aside* I did not use the toilet “behind the curtain” on the C-130 (yes literally behind a curtain in the cargo bay). Tom said it was just fine - better than some he’d seen, but I decided to wait for Clark.
At Clark there was the familiar TP holder/dispenser inside the stall in the bathroom, but no TP, making it appear that they knew you wanted it, perhaps expected it, but it wasn’t going to happen here. This left me wondering why the dispenser was still there. Okay - this one was a flat surface. You could put your phone and bottle of water on it but other than that, it felt like a promise they weren’t going to keep.
At our first stop outside the US in off-base quarters, Red Planet Hotel Angeles, Philippines, there was plenty of TP. That hotel was new and modern and sleek. The fact that you couldn’t open a suitcase anywhere in the room except on the bed was overshadowed by the quantity and fine quality of the TP.
When we moved to Johan’s Beach and Dive resort the situation was not significantly different. There was fairly decent TP. When we ran out, all we had to do was ask and more was given. The problem for us was the lingering memory of that familiar mega roll hanging at hand in the bathroom at home. The roll provided for us at Johan’s was very loosely rolled, making it appear fluffy but only about a quarter of the size of the one to which we’re accustomed. Add to that the fact that our digestive tracts were acclimating to the new surroundings in the usual way intestines acclimate. The result was that we had to ask for TP inordinately, embarrassingly often. Ah well, c’est la vie.
When we returned to Angeles City settling into Janus Apartelle, again there was TP on the wall right where I’m accustomed to finding it. The quality of the TP was not as high as previously experienced, but the living space of our quarters was more generous and comfortable, shoving aside any concerns for the TP.
Then we went to SM Mall. SM mall made no pretense of providing TP in your stall. HOWEVER, they provided an industrial sized roll on the wall inside the bathroom, near where you washed your hands. Upon gaining entry to the bathroom, it was your responsibility to hoof it over to spool off enough TP for your process, taking it into the stall with you. For me, the logical place for this would have been beside the door, as you came in. But no, it was on the opposite side of the bathroom. Adding to the confusion, the bathroom stalls worked a lot like the line at the grocery store. Instead of standing at the entrance waiting for the next stall to open up, when your turn to enter came, you high-tailed it across the room, grabbed TP (or not as inclined), chose a door to stand before, waited for the occupant to exit, then took your turn, exiting your stall to find the next occupant waiting.
Oh, but before I leave the stall, what do I do with the used TP? Many countries don’t have the infrastructure of the US: you simply can’t throw TP down the toilet. It will clog the works. If you don't know the answer to the question before going into the stall, in my opinion it’s always better to err on the side of throwing it into the trashcan rather than become the cause of a major plumbing problem. Sometimes there are signs, but their absence is noticeable in the Philippines. I guess I’m just supposed to know.
Now comes the sticky part. There are no paper towels. You wash your hands and your choices are: use the TP or just shake and go.
*Aside* It is my understanding that men have been using the shake and go system (or maybe it’s the go and shake system) for years, but not for their hands. It was however new to me.
I saw women using the TP to blot their lipstick and wipe the dew from their overheated brows, but as a paper towel, it was a miserable fail. Let’s just say I was glad I wore jeans.
*Aside* Actually, Tom told me it was a miserable fail. I didn’t even try. I knew that wasn’t going to work. The other interesting bathroom fact: often there were masses of women around the sinks brushing their teeth so it was difficult to get near a sink for even a hope of washing your hands.
Then there is the other side of the TP concern: Where is the dispenser at 3:00 am? Obviously it’s in the same place as when I went to sleep, but my sleepy brain can’t remember. Travis it was behind me on the right. Then we got a different room, mirror image and it was on the left. At the Towne House Inn, it was on the left. In Hawaii it was facing me; Okinawa, left to the rear; Red Planet, left; Johan’s, right; Janus Apartelle in front. At 3:00am my brain and my hand have to figure this out, preferably in the dark because turning on the light means the end of this sleep cycle for me. And now where is that trashcan?
And so the toilet paper saga unfurls:
Will Rebecca and Tom find sufficient TP to cover their behinds?
Will the TP continue to be of satisfactory quality?
Will it not finish? Will it never finish?
Inquiring minds want to know. Other minds don’t care in the least.