Indonesian bathroom (mandi) etiquette

It’s good to see that Indonesia isn’t always behind the times.

I say that cos new tv ads in Brazil are now calling on that county’s citizens to pee in the shower as a way of conserving water – something which is already pretty normal behavior in Indonesia I reckon.

I first became aware of this habit a few years back after the rancid smell of piss struck me down after an early hours visit to the restroom. Needless to say, I confronted the culprit the next day and she fully admitted her guilt: yes, she had pissed on the floor – and being too groggy to cover up her sins by washing the piss away with tap water had been found out! Gotcha!!!!

typical Indonesian bathroomAll pretty bizarre really. Cos the typical Indonesian toilet is just a simple affair, made inevitably by Toto (I wonder if they export these things?), so there isn’t really any need to pee on the floor anyway – unless of course you have a Western loo which obviously uses a hell of lot more water to flush it.

So please. If you do want to piss on the floor, adopt the following decorum. You don’t want to be rude, do you?

1) Believe it or not, the Indonesian bathroom is not level. It is actually built on a slight slope so that the water drains away. If you piss on the floor, piss as close to the water exit hole as possible.

Indonesian bathroom mandiWhen taking a leak, simultaneously poor water from the gayung (water dipper). The water not only masks the smell of the pee but it also limits the time your wee is in contact with the bathroom floor tiles. The idea is that it is whisked away down the drain almost instantly, thus minimizing breaches of basic hygiene and allowing maintenance of the pretence that you have not just pissed on the floor.

3) Never piss on the floor in the bathroom in your friend’s house – that’s simply not polite.

4) Like all things in life – religion, politics, sex etc – don’t take things to extremes. Pissing on the floor is just about acceptable. But never climb into the bak mandi to “have a bath” or – God forbid - poo in the sink!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. I never considered this as a funny thing, until now ha ha ha...


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