You're probably expecting some semi-intelligible answer about the richness of ancient cultures, the permeation of Buddhism philosophy in modern society, or even for me to say, “Beer is so cheap in Asia they pay YOU to drink it,” but that’s not it at all. Instead, my answer is always, “The Ass Hose.”
Yes, the ubiquitous Ass Hose in Asia – and the lack of it in ‘Merica - is the biggest difference. So what is an Ass Hose, pray tell?
A distant cousin to the snooty French invention of the bidet, some people even call it the "bum gun" or the "sprayer. " But let’s not put lipstick on a pig, ok? I mean, sprayer? We’re not power washing your Dodge Durango, here. It’s an Ass Hose, and that’s good enough for me.
Basically, beside every toilet in Asia there is a hose coming out of the wall with a spray nozzle attached. After you take care of your business, you proceed to shoot water at a high velocity onto your undercarriage, thereby giving it a great clean.
1) Use a paper towel to dry off,
2) Pull up your shorts and embark upon your day a little wet (because you’re wet 90% of the time in Asia, anyway.)
3) Air dry by wiggling and waving your butt around like you were auditioning to be a dancer in a rap video.
Then again, there are never paper towels in bathrooms in Asia, or any towels, so only options #2 and #3 are available. In fact, in Asian restrooms you may have to contend with a little old man massaging your back completely uninvited while you’re trying to go, or an amorous proposition from a multitude of lady boys, or Viagra vendors banging on your stall door. Always an adventure.
But let me tell you, that ass hose is still the way to go. We’ve really been missing the mark in the U.S. with all of our rolls of flimsy paper and chaffing and….well, you get it. I mean, whom is really civilized? Then again, a lot of time in Asia you find yourself crapping in a rice paddy next to a water buffalo, where neither TP nor an Ass Hose is available, only coconut husks and bamboo stalks you hope aren’t infested with poisonous spiders and killer snakes. That is why I carry Wet Wipes with me everywhere I go in Asia. I recommend you always carry Wet Wipes. You don’t need them until you need them and then you really need them.
Also, I don’t recommend brushing your teeth with the ass hose, though you might have to use it as a shower some times, as Asian bathrooms are purposely designed for inefficiency.
Even as I write this, from an airport in Hawaii on my way back to mainland United States, I miss my dear friend, the Ass Hose. Yup, me and old girl had some good times together. Remember that all-nighter in Cambodia after ten-cent taco Tuesday went horribly wrong? Or when I found out that wonderful street sashimi spot in Laos wasn’t serving sashimi at all? Or during Songkran in Thailand, when the whole town was one big water fight so they used you to fill up their super soakers?
OMB! (Oh my Buddha) I’ll miss you, Ass Hose! But as I ready myself mentally and emotionally for some quality time in the United States, it’s a consolation that at least I still have my trusty Wet Wipes. You’ll have to pry those from my cold, dead fingers, ‘Merica.