Using squat toilet

Indonesia is “challenging” country, especially for those, who have never been before in any Asian country. You need to learn how to eat with hands (if you don’t usually eat with hands), get used to Indonesian “bathing system” and the most “interesting” part is using squat toilet (better known as “Turkish style toilet” or “squatty potty”). In fact, some research suggests that going to the bathroom in the squatting position is better for your health in a variety of ways ;).

Mostly in Indonesian toilets there is no flushing system, so you need to use water from container. Indonesian people do not use toilet paper, but they wash them-self with water (always available in WC). As well use left hand to wash themselves, while they keep the right hand to shake hands and to eat.

So the thing that everybody needs to know, but nobody wants to ask – “how to use squat toilet?” :)

First, you have to get into position. If you’re never did this, better you take off everything below your waist, including your shoes and socks (be careful not to let your clothes touch the floor or get in the way). If you have rubber flip-flops, put those back on.

Crouch into a nice, deep squat, with your weight back on your heels. Your knees should be pointed up toward the ceiling (hug them if you want).

Relax, and enjoy one of the easiest and most pleasant “evacuations” of your life :D. That’s it!

What’s next? Use your hand.

Probably the first idea “I can’t touch myself back there. That’s a dirty place. I need toilet paper or at least tissue”. But cleaning yourself with your hand and a lot of water is the most natural and most hygienic way.
In most bathrooms, there will be a bucket of water with a scoop. Fill the scoop, and grip it firmly with your right hand. You are about to supply water with your right hand as you wipe with your left hand.



For women, it is important to pour from the front, and wipe from front to back, to keep any dirty water away. Going the other way can cause yeast infections or worse.
For men, pouring from the front is more of an advanced skill, since there are a few obstacles in the way.

In many bathrooms (including many bathrooms with a Western sit-down toilet), there may be a sprayer provided, which makes the job a lot easier. The general idea is the same like written above (try not to get the walls and ceiling wet, some of those bidets are pretty high-powered).

Other notes on wiping

Use a lot of water. Use more than you think you should. The next step is going to be flushing, so it doesn’t really matter how much you use to wipe.

Now that you’re nice and clean :), you have to get dry. If there’s no paper around, then just stay squatted for an extra minute, and gravity and evaporation will do its thing :).

If there is paper around, or if you were forward-thinking enough to bring some, then use it and pat yourself dry. If you REALLY used just a sheet or two of toilet paper, you can put the paper into the toilet. Many sanitation systems are not designed to handle paper, but a square or two per flush is okay. MORE THAN THAT IS NOT because most squat toilets (even the flushing ones) will get clogged.


Don’t forget not to leave any trace! Use as much water as you need to in order to get everything down the toilet. You may start with a high pour directly into the hole, followed immediately by more water into the front of the toilet for a smooth, powerful flush.

Most bathrooms with a squat toilet are “wet everywhere” bathrooms, so don’t worry about getting some water on the floor. Be sure to clean your “footprints” off the toilet if you left any, and if there’s a brush provided, go ahead and get that squatter spotless.


Finish up by washing your hands with soap and water, and if you really hate germs, follow with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

You’re done! Hope you enjoyed your first encounter with the squat toilet? :)

Some extra tips:
  • Bring your own toilet paper. In some places where squat toilets are common, free toilet paper isn’t. There might not be a trash can for used toilet paper, and squat toilets aren’t designed for anything but bodily excretions. Even if you don’t bring toilet paper, for first times bring something to dry off with.
  • Squat with your heels flat on the ground. You might be used to squatting on the balls of your feet, with your feet close together, but this position is very unstable and hard on the knees. Squatting with feet hip-width or shoulder-width apart and with your feet flat is easier to hold for an extended period of time. If there are ridged foot rests, put your feet on those; otherwise, plant your feet on either side of the toilet and squat all the way down.
  • Take care of your stuff in the pockets. If you’re wearing pants, be careful not to let things fall out of your pocket as you squat. They might land in the toilet.


Illustrations made by Hendra Arkan.

Useful? Great! :) You might also like these:

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What can you do with 1 euro in Indonesia

Some people, when they arrive to Indonesia, feel like millionaires. Here, everything is counted by thousands and millions. In Indonesia there are only 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 thousands banknote and 100, 200, 500, 1 000 coins. Paradox but more than 57% of all Indonesian inhibits earn till 1,78 EUR per day.

Money are using not only for shopping
Indonesians cure fever with metal coins. They scratch the back with coins for wind get out from the body. Indonesians believe that wind, makes them get fever and metal coins attracts bad spirits. This “procedure” (others say it “massage”) called “kerok”.

As well, like probably in many countries, money is given like presents.

In the end of Ramadhan, during Idul-Fitri, when relatives visiting relatives, if in the family there are any kids – guests brings colorful envelopment with money inside (usually 10 000 Rp – ~0,69 EUR) for kids. Even before this celebration banks specially is changing big amount of cash to smaller. Nobody surprised when kids, during Idul-Fitri, comes to guests and showing their wallets (asking money).

In the traditional Muslim weddings you rare will see guests with flowers or presents. Almost everyone brings envelopment with money. When you come, first of all you need to “register” in guest book and beside this book is always stands the box to put the money. There are not written rules how much you need to put, but it’s good gesture if one person brings at least 50 000 Rp (~3,43 EUR).

Before Christmas, Catholics in Indonesia are used to give money for kids like a present. The amount is ~20 000 Rp (1,37 EUR). It should be new banknote in beautiful envelopment. Some street sellers, especially for Christmas sells new banknote already packed. Of course for this “service” you need to pay extra ~2 000–5 000 Rp (0,14–0,34 EUR).

Different prices in different cities and for different people
For example, in Yogyakarta prices are ~1,5 times less than in Jakarta or Bali island.
As well different prices sellers gives for local people and for foreigners. Even if you already know how to barge in Indonesian language, still usually the final sum will be a bit bigger than for locals. Some Indonesians even don’t hide, that foreigners they see like walking ATM’s, so they try to take as much as possible cash from them :).

What can you do with 1 euro in Indonesia?
So what is possible to buy for 1 EUR in Yogyakarta city? Like EUR currency all the time changing let’s take average -1 EUR=14 500 Rp.

  • Eat food in local restaurant “Rumah makan” (where is menu from which you can choose).
    1 portion simple rise (“nasi putih”), fried mushrooms (“jamur goreng”), sambal sause with guava natural juice – 13 500 Rp (0,93 EUR).
  • Have a dish in street restaurant “Warung makan” (food made and putted in the window, there are no menu, you take what is putted)
    1 portion simple rice, vegetables (“sayur”), 2 balls of smash potatoes (“perkedel”), 1 chicken thigh in sweet suce (“ayam bakar”) and natural guava juice – 14 000 Rp (0,96 EUR).
  • Eat in street restaurant (where you see how food is preparing for you)
    1 portion fried rise (“nasi goreng” – called national Indonesian dish) with chicken scrap, omelet, several vegetables and cold drink  “es jeruk” – 11 000 Rp (0,76 EUR).
  • Take away food from street vendors “kaki-lima”.
    1 portion rice cooked in coconut oil (“nasi uduk”), 2 peace “tempeh” and 2 peace of “tahu” – 7 000 Rp (0,48 EUR).

It’s really possible to find where to eat cheaper but I don’t go to places where I see that food is made and kept not in the best conditions :)

If you don’t have big requirements for food and don’t eat big portions, per day in Yogyakarta is possible to eat 3 times for 24 000 Rp (1,65 EUR): for breakfast instant coffee and 4 coffee cake; for lunch – rice, vegetables, chicken, simple drink; for dinner – rice, “tahu” and “tempeh”.

What possible to buy for 1 EUR in Surabaya city? (Thank you Abriani Ori Ratnasari for information)
1 EUR  Abriani calculate like 15 000 Rp. Here is the list what you can do with 1 EUR:

  • Buy food in KFC “goceng package”. You can choose: ice cream, soup, love float, melon float, grape float, burger and others.
  • Buy food: rice, chicken and ice tea – 5 000 Rp (0,33 EUR)
  • Buy books
  • Buy pensil case
  • Buy ticket for public transportation like “angkot” or bus – it’s only 5 000 Rp (0,33 EUR) one way, for 1 person
  • Buy 3 underwear units (for girls)

More things what can you do with 1 euro

  • Eat sandwich with cobra meat– 13 000 Rp (0,89 EUR).
  • Order 2 natural juice in local restaurant – 10 000-14 000 Rp (0,69-0,96 EUR).
  • Try Robusta coffee from Flores island in local restaurant– 10 000 Rp (0,69 EUR).
  • In small shop buy 13 packages of instant coffee – 13 000 Rp (0,89 EUR).
  • In small shop buy 10 packages of instant noodles (Indonesians just love this ”dish”)– ~14 000 Rp (0,96 EUR).
  • Buy ~ 1,2 kilo simple rice – ~14 000 Rp (0,96 EUR).
  • In big supermarket buy “Coca cola” 1,5 l – 13 000 Rp (0,89 EUR). Or in small shop buy 3 small bottles (425 ml) – 12 000 Rp (0,82 EUR).
  • Buy 4 bottles of water in not touristic are (500 ml) – 12 000 Rp (0,82 EUR).
  • Buy 1 kilo tomatoes and cucumber in local market – 14 000 Rp (0,96 EUR) (locals can buy cheaper ;)).
  • Buy 1-2 kilo of seasonal fruits (banana, mango…) – 7 000-13 000 Rp (0,48-0,96 EUR).
  • In small shop buy food „package“ – 2 packages of instat coffee, pie, jam – 13 500 Rp (0,93 EUR) or 0,5 kilo of rice, small package of sauce and 2 pieces of “tahu” and “tempeh” – 13 500 Rp (0,93 EUR).
  • Put the fuel almost 2 l in petrol station – 14 800 Rp (1,02 EUR).
  • Buy bus ticket from Yogyakarta to Magelang city – 13 000 Rp (0,89 EUR).
  • With “becak” go short distance (that takes no longer than 10 min.) – 10 000 Rp (0,69 EUR).
  • Pay for motorbike parking 7-14 times – 14 000 Rp (0,96 EUR). The price depends where you want to park – touristic places more expensive.
  • Go with taxi ~2-4 km – 12 000-14 400 Rp (0,82-0,99 EUR).
  • Buy local cigarettes 1-2 (with „kretek“) – 8 000-14 000 Rp (0,55-0,96 EUR).
  • Buy small souvenirs in Malioboro street, for example T-shirt– 13 000 Rp (0,89 EUR)
  • Visit 1 person, 1 time Sultan palace “Kraton” – 13 500 Rp (0,93 EUR) or Water castle “Taman sari” – 14 000 Rp (0,96 EUR).
  • Put to mobile “pulsa”– 11 000 Rp (0,76 EUR).
  • Buy cleaning stuff for home, for example in small shop liquid for cleaning the floor – 9 700 Rp (0,67 EUR).
  • Buy hygienic stuff (in small shop): tooth paste, soap, wet napkins – 13 700 Rp (0,94 EUR).
  • Take laundry service for ~5,5 kilos – 13 750 Rp (0,94 EUR).
  • Buy 1 pair of slippers – 12 000 Rp (0,82 EUR).

And some other things possible to do with 1 EUR ;).

Per day, if not spread out the money, possible to live for ~ 30 000 Rp (2,06 EUR). That’s why mostly people use banknotes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 thousand. Those banknotes are mostly dirty and damage. Sometimes I see when locals get new banknote of 2 000 Rp, they are smiling while looking at them, because not many new banknotes you can see of such amount.

As well, sometimes it’s happens (especially in small shop) when they don’t have back change, they give back small candies (I really don’t like it). But when I tried once in the same shop pay with the same candies – I didn’t manage :D

What you managed to buy with 1 euro in Indonesia?

Useful? Great! :) You might also like these:

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Why I moved from first home

3 of us (me, Karolina and Mesi ) moved to our first home . We were first people who lived in that house, so everything were still new (“everything” I mean clean walls, not broken ceramic floors, clean squat toilet, like nothing else was in that house – just curtains and 1 Indonesian style carpet ;)). Even this condition didn’t calm us down about the price (15 00 000 Rp/per 1 year+additional money for electricity). We thought that it’s a bit too expensive, so when our local friends visited us, we asked what they think about this house. All of them told, that it’s really too expensive for such condition house (without furniture, ceilings, even some of them told, that by ”standard” this house not finished yet). So, we just understood that we got such price because we are foreigners and almost everybody in Indonesia wants to “earn” money from them.

Our owner with a family lived beside our house, in the same “yard”. Sometimes she was bringing us breakfast, tea, sweets and etc. We were happy and were making a joke that we have ”second mother”. Nobody from her family was speaking English, so we thought we will have good opportunity to learn Indonesian language as well. We could anytime ask owners husband to help us at home or just borrow the tools. We were quite happy at that time there.

In Sewon area (Yogyakarta) didn’t live many foreigners, so some neighbors were hanging around in our terrace because of curiosity, the owner’s family celebrations was held here as well. Kids were running around, sometimes trying to get into a house without permission. Everything was fine for us, we knew that Indonesians are curious people and shares everything with everyone.
We were polite with all, smiling for everyone that we passed, never had any party or stayed loud till late, dressed properly and etc. In my opinion we adapt very quickly and really respected their lifestyle, we were just good neighbors.

But everything changed after 4 months living in this house.

Once (before Christmas) Karolina, me and Indonesian friend were at home, when somebody knock the door  (~10 pm). It was owner’s husband who asked our friend to come out because they have to talk. When I open the door wider I saw that our entire house was surrounded by ~ 20 men. Mesi was coming back home and she told that the view was intimidating – the local men stands in each corner of the house, by windows, like would be afraid that somebody can escape from house.  We didn’t understand what’s happening. Nobody explain us anything, like nobody speaks in English, so we were just waiting till friend will come back and tells what is going on.

After ~30 min. friend came back, he didn’t explained anything, took a motorbike, told that he will tell everything next day and just left. But one of the men came to our house, started to point to one of motorbikes (another friend just keeps it in our place, like he had 2 motorbikes) and asked where another guy is. We told him that nobody is else at home, only 3 of us. They didn’t believe, so couple of men were sitting in front of our street till ~12 pm and “guard” if somebody else will come out. They wasted their time.

Next day, when friend came, he again was invited by owner’s husband to have another talk. Inside the house was the owner’s son as well (who didn’t live there and during 4 months we saw him first time). Finally after this talk friend came to explain everything.

So, somebody told to “RT” (the smallest unit of governmental system to manage the living area. Each “RT” has their own community leader that makes decisions, solves the problems) leader that in our house happening orgiastic things, man stays over the nights and etc. Like in Indonesia not allowed to live together not married couples, those gossips gave a “result”. The community man with a leader in front came to check our house in the evening when they saw that in front of a house parked not our motorbike (they had so much time to observe our place that they even knew which motorbikes we are driving and which ones in not ours). During second talk with friend, owner told that from now on if we have male visitors we need to open both doors (front and back) to show that we are not hiding anything and villagers can see that we are not doing anything “bad”. As well visitors should leave our home till 10 pm. We were surprised about such changes, because when we moved in, nobody told us, that it’s not allowed to have visitors in the evening (owner just told us, that male can’t stay overnight here, except if it’s relatives). All 4 months we had visitors – nothing happened, owner didn’t say anything and suddenly it became the “huge thing”. Also we didn’t understand why they talk with our guests, not with us about “new rules”.

We tried to figure out which our behavior could rise such changes. And we could think about 2 cases: 1. Once our local friend was smoking in the kitchen with open back door a little after 10 pm and one villagers was just passing by (in the back door was a small path to pass people to their houses) and saw him. 2. We had massage course in our home, came couple males, females (all foreigners), we stayed longer than we planned (till ~10.30 pm) and maybe talked a bit louder than usual. But are both case so “bad”?

What happen next? Almost 1 week after that “event”, local man were spying on our house every evening (in opposite street), owner husband was coming to our place at ~9 pm, knocking the door and asking our guest leave (even didn’t wait till 10 pm, probably wanted to go sleep earlier :D). Like we didn’t accept to open every time our doors when he have guest, owner was coming and remind us about “new rule”. We couldn’t live like this, without any privacy, all the time under pressure of community. We went to talk with our Darmasiswa program coordinator, explained what happened and asked come together to community leader to talk directly what is the situation about.

Leader explained that there are rule in this RT, that visitors can’t stay longer than after 10 pm and somebody saw that we have visitors later. Those people were “afraid” that our behavior can influence the local teenagers and etc. He asked to follow the rules and that’s all.

Next day we went to owner asking her to “protect” us in front of villagers, like we don’t do anything bad, if somebody doesn’t have what to do just gossiping it’s not our problems. Especially when in opposite street lives foreigner couples, holding parties and nobody said anything to them. But later we figure out that, next street is already another RT, so another rules, more flexible and we were just unlucky to live in strict RT. The owner told that she can’t do anything; we just need to live like this for a while. But we weren’t happy about it. We started to think about moving out and ask to give back half of paid money. We didn’t know where and how we will move yet, but live like this wasn’t normal for us.

Couple days later we asked one of university “buddies” to help us to translate to owner that if situation won’t change we are ready to move out and we want get money back. During the talk with the owner we figure out some interesting “facts” that was told for “buddy”.

Our house was built on the land that belongs to couple of the same family relatives, who lives almost next to owner’s house. Relatives are jealous for our owner that she rented a place for the foreigners (it means got more money). So they started to make “problems” to the owner (as well she told that it’s not first time, when relatives tries to harm). Everything it’s not because of our behavior, but because of relationship between families, we were just not lucky, probably any other foreigners who would live there would sooner or later had the same situation.

As well when we asked to give back half of the sum that we paid, they didn’t agree (of course who would? :D). They told that we moving out because of our own decision, they asked as to stay. But we told that with such living condition we can’t stay if owner won’t protect us. We suggested to take money only for 6 months that we won’t stay, even if we are moving after 4 months, not 6. We suggested to leave during 1 week, so they can find other people to rent – but they were stubborn. Even when the owner already agreed but the son didn’t allow to give back money. After couple of hours talking, making jokes of us in Indonesian they told us that all money they already spend and they don’t have any. They could give a little bit only after 4 months and then later the rest of the sum. We didn’t agree-we needed money now, because we will need to pay for the place renting now. Finally they told they will give money but only 7 000 000 Rp. When we asked why not 7 500 000 Rp, they told that they got only 14 00 000 Rp. What we figure out?  The student from ISI who helped us to rent this place, took commission from owner 1 000 000 Rp. When we asked him to negotiate the price, he told that it’s not possible, but it was possible, he just wanted that money for himself. Another fact – when we wanted to signed the contract before moving in, that student told that it’s not necessary, it’s not polite and etc. Now we know why he told like this, he wouldn’t get any commissions! So the lesson to learn – contract is necessary, to avoid all situations like we had, to be clear how much money paid and it’s totally normal and polite!

When we agreed finally about amount that they will give us back, they asked us to move during 1 week and the money they will try to collect as soon as possible, at least half of the sum during that week, and rest of the sum later. But suddenly next day they already had all the amount (yeah, and somebody told that they don’t have money to return :D).

Like in January was holidays in university, 3 of us already had plans to travel. So we agreed with some friends that we leave our stuff for a while in their places and after the trip, will take it back.

I was traveling almost 3 weeks in Lombok island and left my stuffs in my friends Debby’s place (by the way I meet her through as well :). When I came back, she hosted me till I found the “big tent” :). We visited some places but not many options left – it was middle of study year, the places were or not very good, expensive or they asked to rent for 1 year. It’s pity but 3 of us didn’t find a place stay together so we moved to separate places.

But now I feel really happy – no problems with neighbors, the RT leader and community is quite flexible. But still I’m quite polite, if I make any party, I always inform the owner that will come more people and maybe we will stay till late.

What’s left “behind”?

We speak with several local friends about our entire story with first house and we found out interesting things.

First of all, some local people – who are childish – are jealous to those who can speak with foreigners in English, especially if it’s man from another community or village. That’s why (probably) the neighbors in first house, when recently saw that some local friends visit us – was a bit jealous to those guys and started to observe our house more.

Second, some Indonesians friend from other islands told us, that Javanese usually will smile to your face but in back of you will gossip about you, well they aren’t totally wrong just it happens not only with Javanese but other people as well. In Javanese traditional clothes, the knife “kris” is hidden in the back, when in other islands is in front. It means behind the politeness and hospitality of Javanese they are still similar with other people, that can react hardly if they didn’t get respect or other people insult them. Javanese people who put their knife in the back – in their traditional clothes, can mean that their not so straight, like people from other Indonesian islands, who put the knife in the front. It’s possible to make connection with our owner behavior – she was very nice, but when some things happened she didn’t want to take responsibility that she didn’t inform us about the rules, when saw that in the beginning some friends stays longer never told as anything.


Have you ever experience anything like that? What are your experiences renting a house abroad?

You might also like read these:

Indonesian people lifestyle
Good manners in Indonesia
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