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How to use a Cambodian toilet without tolitpaper
Home / Countries / Cambodia / Why Cambodian’s have no toilet paper in their house

Why Cambodian’s have no toilet paper in their house


toilet spray nozzleEric, where is the toilet paper?” She said as she walked into my kitchen.

“Use the bum gun.” I said as I poured the coconut milk into my wak. It screamed and hissed in the scalding temperature.

“The what”

“The bum gun, no one uses paper in Cambodia.” I tossed in the copped lemon grass, and a strong citrus smell jumped out at me.

“The nozzle for washing dishes? You don’t have toilet paper?”

My mind flashed back to when I was little, washing dishes with my grandmother, taking the little gun and spraying the high power gusts at the food stuck on plates. That wasn’t how it worked here. “Please don’t wash any of my dishes with the bum gun, it’s attached the toilet for a reason.”

“Yea, ok, but um, don’t you have any paper?”

“Nope, sorry. I haven’t bought any paper in 6 months.”  I took a sip. It needed soy sauce, everything needs soy sauce.

“What, but 200 people have lived here!”

“Yep” I glanced at my food then to her. Delicious vegetarian curry amok, ready to eat, to cover rice or drip bread into. I didn’t want to share, the deliciousness should be all mine.

She glared at me, her eyes fixed in stone. Culture shock roared through her mind, she trembled. Should she be angry at me? I gave her a free room, I guided her through the city, I translated for her, I befriended her but I didn’t have any toilet paper and had no intention of buying any.”

“Look,” I said “in Cambodia the water is warm and paper is in short supply, people have been using water wand water only for thousands of years. Just try it.”

“Eh! That’s so dirty!”

“Blasting yourself with water is a lot cleaner than using your hand and some paper. Just think about it.”  I readied my bowl, all mine.

Her mind pick away at the bedrock of her culture. She had never thought about it before. Using toilet paper isn’t an innate feature of mankind, not something basic for human survival, not eating food or drinking water, but a cultural solution that not everyone in the world agreed to.

“You really just use water?”

“Yes, every day, now  go and try”

“But, how do you make it dry?”

“We let it dry naturally, now go and try” I waved my hand at her, shooing her away.

She walked out of the room, off to let her new ideas ferment as my sister walked in.

“Mmm curry!” she said as she grabbed my bowl.

Hey, I’m Eric, is my travel blog. I write this website to show you how easy it is to live, work and travel all around the world. I’ve been traveling almost 8 years now. I’m just about to publish my new book Where the Wind Blows: Traveling around the World on $5 a day

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  1. Well we do have toilet paper here in Thailand…on the kitchen table where it is used for napkins…it is in a cute little red and white box.

  2. This is disgusting!
    If you were denying me a toilet paper I would label you”asshole” and we would quit forever.
    Btw,I do splash my bum WITH toilet paper,it’s more clean and hygienic bum is brown free after taking a dump.
    People misunderstand how cleaning bum with paper doesn’t involve water.
    it s never either,or.
    FUK U man,you were being mean to that girl.

    • I hosted 250 couch surfers in my house, everyone had to deal with the local culture. You can’t always expect to have the luxury of a culture you are familiar with. In MANY counties paper is uncommon. Maybe I was forcing her to adapt, but at the same time I didn’t feel responsible to give her any toilet paper.

    • @Louie
      I haven been living in Cambodia for more than a decade and have never used toilet paper. First there is no paper around and second it is definitely much cleaner than paper. With paper you smear your poo around. With the gun, you spray it off with quite some pressure and everything is gone!!
      In Europe, where there aren’t any bum guns, I normally misuse the shower as a bum gun and even that works fine. You just got to dry off the water otherwise your ass is going to freeze off.
      Once you have gotten used to it, you never want to go back to the unhygienic paper!!! As we all know, the Asians are very clean people and that doesn’t stop at your but!
      You can ask every expat living in Asia and he will confirm it!

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