Challenge: Toilet Paper

You know what’s been on my mind a lot lately?

Toilet paper.

Stay with me here, people.

In high school, my group of friends—all girls—got into a t.p.-ing war with another group of friends, who happened to be all guys.

I know, for the love of god, it was like the toilet paper was flying along with the hormones, right? Could we have been any more obvious? (On a side note, one of the girls and one of the guys ended up getting married a few years later, so I guess it worked out for one of us, at least!)

For those of you who grew up in non-t.p.-ing countries or cities, first of all, I pity you. Second of all, let me explain: t.p.-ing a house is when you sneak up to somebody’s house in the dark, then take rolls of toilet paper and throw them way up in the trees, in bushes, around the house, around cars—you get the picture—so when the inhabitants wake up in the morning their entire yard is fetchingly draped in delicately fluttering white toilet paper.

It’s a nightmare to clean up and it’s even worse if it happens to rain during the night because all of that dry toilet paper turns into a gloppy mess that’s stuck everywhere.

It’s totally awesome if you’re the one who’s done the t.p.-ing, though, believe me.

My friends and I were masters at it at one point. We had a whole system going and we were a great team, although I think our activities were technically illegal. And now I’m counting on a statute of limitations so I don’t end up in jail for confessing to t.p.-ing houses 15 years ago, but if I’m arrested when I go back to the U.S. please take up a collection for my bail!

I’m way too pretty to end up in jail, people.


Also, you can just tell that someday when I’m a parent my house is going to get t.p.-ed and I’m going to be all annoyed and my parents are going to be like, Payback’s hell, isn’t it, honey?

The rest of this post, unfortunately, has nothing to do with t.p.-ing anything, although that would be a fantastic challenge. You better watch out, all the people I know in Bangkok! I’m coming at you with the t.p. and you’ll never know what hit ya’! As long as I can find your apartment and get into your building without calling you to let me in the front door!


Watch your back. I'm like a NINJA!

So. Toilet paper. Bog roll (I hate that term). Bathroom tissue. Whatever it is you call it, it’s everywhere in Thailand when you don’t want it.

Like when it’s there to dry your hands in the bathroom.

Yeah, that’s toilet paper to dry your hands right alongside the electric dryer. Good way to sum up Thailand: some progress, some not-so-much progress. Your choice!*

How to smack it down: Get a whole, whole, whole bunch of it, wad it up in a tight ball and quickly swipe at your hands. That way you might escape without those annoying wet shreds of t.p. stuck to you that you have to embarrassingly pick off for an hour afterwards. Learn from my mistakes, people, which requires just forgetting about Mother Earth for a few minutes. You can make up for it later by, I don’t know, buying something organic or something.**

*Notice how the sign above the toilet paper dispenser says “useless”? Never a truer word spoken!

**As for the Mother Earth thing: I always separate my trash for recycling, even in Thailand, and when I was in Maryland, I had worms living in a bin under my kitchen sink to compost my garbage. So I’m totally into Mother Earth, and all that crap.

p.s. I was just informed that the toilet paper on the wall is there to take in the stall with you! I had NO IDEA and now I feel like an idiot, but…well…yeah, I’m an idiot.

p.p.s. I’ve been thinking…and I think sometimes the t.p. IS there to dry your hands. Sometimes there’s plenty of toilet paper in the stall, but then there’s just a roll set out by the sink, and no hand dryer or paper towels. I don’t see what else would make sense at that point. Anyway.

You can also helpfully find toilet paper on select restaurant tables.

This toilet paper holder also cleverly includes a toothpick holder. 2-for-1! Everybody loves a bargain!

How to smack it down: Try to forget that you have a strong connotation with toilet paper and toilets, not food. Definitely not food. And also try to forget that toilet paper is unsurprisingly ineffective as a napkin–especially the one-ply kind of toilet paper–then just go with the flow. So to speak.

I’m almost 100% sure that toilet paper is used instead of napkins because it’s super cheap. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong. (I’m totally kidding. I don’t want to be told I’m wrong! Do you even know me?!)

The funny thing about Thailand, though, is that there’s never toilet paper when you want it.

Sigh. Butt hose and bucket o' water are not good substitutes for toilet paper, but you get used to it.

How to smack it down: Ladies! If you don’t carry around wet wipes when you’re in a developing country, you are just begging for some nastiness. JUST SAYING. I bought, like, 15 little travel packs of wipes when they were on sale, stashed them in every bag I have, and then still don’t have any when I need them. So don’t be like me, but be like the me I want to be, which is somebody who can find the damned wipes when she needs them.

Like Pre-Thailand Teacher Megan. She was responsible and at least reasonably organized!

Finally, don’t forget that toilet paper in Thailand is really just…tissue paper.

Because you know what? You can’t throw that stuff in the toilet! The sewage system can’t handle it.

Let me tell you something: Unflushed, dirty toilet paper + humid, hot weather = DISGUSTING

How to smack it down: Just learn to suck it up and put your dirty toilet paper in the trash can. It’s gross, but it’s part of living and traveling abroad, and it’s better than the embarrassment of a clogged toilet and everybody looking at you like you’re a stupid farang. Which you are, BUT STILL. No need to advertise it, people!

Final Score


Dudes, it’s MY point system! Shut up!



Filed under Daily Challenge, Living Abroad, Thailand

33 responses to “Challenge: Toilet Paper

  1. That toilet paper on the wall by the drier is to take into the cubicle with you. But it’s only ever this stupid farang who realises MUCH TOO LATE it was out there for a reason!

  2. I don’t care. I flush it anyway! Humph!

    The gross thing for me is when a Thai comes to your apartment and then puts their used toilet paper into your special $35 wicker (dry!) waste basket. I think it is time for me to invest in some bin liners…

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Challenge: Toilet Paper « Bangkok Reality Smackdown --

  4. Ahhhh, Thai toilet paper- how I hate thee!! Completely ineffective in all it’s many forms/ uses.

    I also pity anyone from non-t.p.-ing countries, I remember stock piling t.p. and spending many a night in high school wreaking havoc on my friends’ houses. Good times!!

  5. I’ve been back in the States for a week, and one of the happiest moments I had upon returning was realizing I could now throw out my toilet paper in the toilet (where it BELONGS. Seriously, Thailand, if it was supposed to go into the garbage bin it would be called garbage bin paper. Sheez!).
    This happy moment was only slightly eclipsed when I discovered pretzel M&Ms at Target.
    It’s the simple pleasures, really.

  6. Jay

    I tp’d a house in grade 10 and then had a grade 12 ‘grad party’ breakfast at 600 in the morning at the same house. If the dad who served me breakfast only knew what I had done to their house 2 years earlier……

  7. Too funny :) I lived in Egypt for a while where you can throw toilet paper in the toilet (well, most of them anyways), but since I was a dive guide and was on the boat most of the time (I know, hard life!), I had to throw the toilet paper on a trash can also. And the worst part is… I got so used to it that at home sometimes I would catch myself on the toilet looking around for a trash can :) That’s called over-assimilation I think.

    • Total over-assimilation! I’ve been guilty of that, too–and then feeling really strange to be able to put in the toilet. The things living abroad does to you…

  8. A most worthy issue to tackle, my dear. You never cease to make me smile…

  9. I remember when I was 16 and discovering (too late) that there was no TP in the bathroom. I shouted for my mom. Thankfully she came back. When I told her there was no TP she hesitated for a moment as I could hear her shuffling through her gi-normous purse. The she said, “Shake, Lani.” Laughter followed. Sigh. I feel ya girl. I feel your TP pain…

  10. My best toilet paper story:

    After living with my now-husband for many months, I mentioned we were almost out of TP and needed more from the store. He went bananas, asking how in the world I used so much, because it took him years to get through a Costco pack before I came along.

    Long story short, he never realized that women *always* wipe. Apparently he thought we just shook it off after we peed.

    (Since I have met many women who don’t realize that many men actually do “shake it off” instead of wiping. Which makes it harder to make fun of hubby, but I do it anyway. Seriously, don’t they teach people this shit in…I don’t know…common sense 101?)

    • Wow. We should start a class called Common Sense 101 and that should be a lesson. There are other things that are kind of mysterious to me about men, and I’m sure mysterious to men about women, but…toilet paper? Huh.

  11. Henriette

    I just started reading your blog a month ago! And I love it! :)

    Im from Norway, and Im moving to RURAL(!!) Thailand in about 6 months.. Help! The place is called Nong Ki, not far from Korat . :)
    I just like to thank your for calming my hysteria about moving Thailand! And I really love your WTF posts and this practical toilet paper one..

    • Hi Henriette! Thanks for stopping by! You’re braver than I am if you’re moving to rural Thailand. I don’t think I could brave it–I need my comforts. But I’m glad I could be of some help! Thailand’s a great place–you’ll love it here.

  12. I’m from a non t.p-ing country (though I know of the tradition, as well as the one where you plant forks in the front lawn ;) ). Sally is right, it is called toilet paper, therefore it should belong there, not in the bin – please invest in some better sewage system Thailand.
    Another great, informative and above all FUNNY post ;) thanks!

  13. I *hate* the bits that get stuck to your hands when using it in place of paper towels or in the absence of the auto dry machines. Why I never learn to air dry or even just dry my hands on my shorts/pants in that case is beyond me.

    Kudos one the 1 trillion!!!!

  14. I’ll never forget my first trip up country…toilet paper on the dinner table but none in the hongnam. If you aren’t a squatter that’s bad enough but when you have to use the bowl of water to clean yourself it’s downright dangerous!

  15. Di

    You know I only just realised a couple of days ago that the toilet paper on restaurant tables unrolls from the centre of the roll, not the outside. Therefore, it must not be normal toilet paper, but rather toilet paper made especially for restaurant tables? Hmmm. Actually, thinking about it a little more, I suppose if you remove the cardboard core and unstick the end that is stuck to the cardboard, that would allow you to unravel it from the centre. Your post has made me consider toilet paper much more deeply than I every have before!

  16. Andrew

    Yeah, funny stuff! From a Thai perspective, when I took my girlfriend to a fancy restaurant in the US, the cloth napkin was so big she used it as a shawl because she was cold……….which she was all of the time!

    • Love it! I imagine if I went home right now, I’d be freezing, too.

      It would actually be really interesting to get a Thai person to talk about what it’s like visiting the U.S.!

  17. Hi,
    I’m from Indonesia and as I was reading your post, I realized that I had a roll of toilet paper on my desk. I use it for everything, from wiping my sneezy nose, to cleaning my equipment, and to wiping the coffee dribbling down my chin. Well what can you say? I grew up learning t.p. is just tissue hehehehhe…

    • Hey there! I’d love to get to Indonesia someday.

      You know, it really *is* just tissue–I think it’s just a matter of what you’ve grown up with!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s