In Nepal the toilets consist of an oblong hole in the floor, sometimes lined with porcelain, sometimes not. In the seven weeks I was in Nepal, I never became sure of the correct technique for using them. At first, I used small ledges on the walls for support as I leaned back with my pants down. Western style handicap rails would be ideal, but they are never employed. But I came to realize that the ledges were there by accident; they were not always available. It seemed hard to just squat down in a position leaning back enough so that brown bombs would not fall down my pant legs, while not falling over backward. Sometimes I found a ledge or projection on the rear wall to support myself with, but often the rear wall wasn’t close enough to the loo. To squat leaning back with hands on the floor just in back of the loo might work, but would be awkward and arduous; I never tried it. The last option I can think of is taking off ones pants and underwear; with hiking boots and in cold weather that would be inconvenient. What do Nepalis do? I have no idea.

Another mystery for me is the plumbing the loos are connected to. You flush by pouring water from a bucket. But the drain pipe has a visible water level just below the level of the bottom of the loo; things don’t seem to drain very far. It seemed like the pipe should get stuffed up, but it never does.

“No Public Toilets” is a circumstance unheard of and unthinkable in Nepal. They are ubiquitous along the circuit and are always reasonably clean; either because it is the culture to clean them after use, or local people take it upon themselves to clean them. In the region of my trek there was always a robust supply of water for cleaning, except in high country where things were frozen. For me it was a contrast to unpleasant experiences I have had with public toilets in, for example, Venice Beach California.

One feature of all Nepali toilets is there is a drain in a floor which is expertly sloped to drain water well. If there is a shower in the toilet it rains on to the floor; there is never a shower stall or bathtub.

Western style toilets are commonly available to the west of Thorung-La, occasionally to the east, where it sometimes seemed like they are unsure how to hook them up. In Larjung while I was waiting for my room to be dusted, I had an accident due to the western style toilet possessing a lid but not a seat. I squatted over the bowl not low enough, in a position so the loose shit projected on to the raised lid. In Nepal you are not supposed to throw any paper down the toilet, and I was not going to leave a smelly mess in the trash can, so I had to use my (left) hand to clean the lid as much as possible. There was a bucket of water available, but the tap worked for a few seconds and stopped. So once I had cleaned the lid as well as I could with my hand, and cleaned my hand with a cup dipped into the bucket, I could use the bucket to finish the job, the water draining into the floor drain. Luckily, outside the toilet was a sink which ran long enough to fill another bucket. The lesson is that with Nepali toilets it is easier to miss the target than with western toilets, but easier to clean if you do.