My best advice on going to the bathroom outside of Manila is simply this: hold it for the entire length of your stay. I am kidding, but please be aware that only in the nicer hotels in the Philippines will a traveler find rest room facilities comparable to those provided by even the most modest of accommodations in the United States. The Asian idea of toilet accessories is very much different. Soap and shampoo remain the same. However, toilet paper is different! Toilet paper is not available in most homes - it is replaced with a bucket of water and a ladle. Fortunately, most hotels provide both resources.

In the urban Filipino bathroom the shower/bathtub, sink and toilet are available. In the rural Philippines, the scenario might be a little different. In place of a shower, you will find a water faucet with a big 'timba' or bucket with a 'tabo' or ladle. The bucket and ladle serve an integral role in both bathing and toiletry. Showering is accomplished by filling the bucket with water and pouring water over yourself using the ladle. One may opt to squat or stand in the middle of the bathroom while taking a shower. Hot water is rare in most homes, but available in hotels. For the former, a kettle full of water is heated and mixed in with the water in the bucket.

A similar method is employed in the toileting. After using the toilet, the ladle is filled with water and the involved part is washed with soap and water. In more sophisticated places, a built- in bidet is available.

Toilets are not all the same in the Philippines. Most come with the water storage unit, however, some do not. In the latter case, one must fill out the bucket with enough water to flush the toilet. In other remote areas, a hole in the ground (located in a rest room, of course) serves the purpose. For this variety, one is required to squat over the hole. Of course, I've heard of some people who squat on the toilet bowls, instead of sitting on them for "hygienic reasons". Also, toilets are called CRs in the Philippines - not rest rooms! CR stands for comfort room...

A strangely constructed public urinal for women is found in high traffic areas like bus stops. These urinals have nothing but tiles raised 6" from the floor. The tiles are usually 8" wide with intermittent "slots" on which your feet rest. They are situated about a foot away from the wall. The main idea is to straddle the tiles and squat slightly while facing the wall for modesty's sake. A constant trickle of water flows in front of the tiles to cleanse the urinal.

One hotel in Sagada installed a flush toilet but did not go to the trouble to hook the water pipe directly to it. Instead, a large garbage can in the corner collected water from a running faucet in the wall. The bucket and ladle was used to carry the water over to the toilet. Even hotels that have properly installed flush toilets still retain the bucket and ladle as well as the floor drain for their traditional patrons. Toilet paper is supplied in the nicer hotels and available to purchase in others. Even so, it is a good idea to carry a personal supply in case of emergency.

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