Farts, Diarrhea & Dating in Bali
You’ll Laugh Your Ass Off
Some places are blessed with perfect acoustics: Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, the Sydney Opera House and ALL bathrooms in Bali.
The bathrooms here are built for one purpose only — to amplify and transmit any sound you make in them perfectly to all locations in a house — even on the porch, adjacent alleys and especially to neighbors.
I imagine a team of top engineers around a table brainstorming, “How can we make this as loud and awkward as possible?”
They put their heads together and come up with the perfect solution:
- Tiled floors and walls that form an echo chamber
- Unforgivingly thin walls (like cardboard)
- An absence of any sort of sound-absorbing material like towels or rugs
- Doors that don’t quite close
- Walls that don’t connect with the ceiling
- Strategically placed vents that open to alleys
Mysteriously, groups of local teenage boys absolutely LOVE to congregate outside these vents and play cards all day long.
The only other design consideration is proximity to the bed. More than 5 or 10 steps away is undesirable. The ideal design is when you can see into the bathroom while laying in the bed. (There are no long hallways or second bathrooms upstairs to hide in like back home). Notice how in this modern bathroom at my friend’s house, there is a mysterious window providing perfect viewing of the bed from the toilet (left photo), the toilet from the bed (middle photo) and the toilet from the kitchen (right photo). I assume this is so you can wave to your date if you are taking too long and signal you are still alive or maybe they should come join you???
In a nutshell, you are never alone.
This is not good news to someone like me who grew up in “The West.” Where I come from, women are not supposed to make any disgusting noises. I once lived with a guy for 3 years and he NEVER heard me fart. Not even once. Women are taught how to hold farts in at all costs.
Now imagine you meet this incredibly cute guy at the beach. You go home together. Everything is going well until the next morning. You stare lovingly into his eyes, he caresses your cheek. All of sudden, there’s a rumble in the bronx, or “Bali Belly,” as people affectionately like to call it here. Let’s be honest…it’s a surprise diarrhea bomb that sneaks up on you with no mercy. It’s essentially unavoidable with the deep fried street food, murky tap water and absence of soap (and sometimes water) in most bathrooms, including the ones employees use at restaurants.
I try to ignore it, but the cramps and pain just won’t go away. What’s a lady to do? “Excuse me, I’m going to powder my nose,” I say politely, as I begin the walk (run) of shame a few steps away into the “bathroom” with no door and flash him an “I’ll be right back” smile.
I survey the situation — it doesn’t look good. As usual, there’s a “normal” toilet without a seat (or if I’m having a really shitty day, just a hole to squat over), a moldy bucket half filled with water (I’m not sure what this is for), no toilet paper (there never is) and a butt gun* (if I’m lucky). *These are high pressure hoses next to the toilet where you can spray all of your clothes with water (especially the crotch/butt area so it looks like you peed your pants) and possibly ricochet water off the walls and hit your face (rookie mistake).
My stomach churns again. I briefly contemplate just running past him, jumping on my motorcycle and riding off into the city like a madwoman to find a real bathroom. But I really like him. Hmm…
I can hear the guy breathing and fluffing his pillow on the other side of the wall. “Dammit!” I murmur to myself. I might as well just sit in the bed and crap on his face. But duty calls and I can’t turn back now.
Use your imagination about what happens next. No seriously, try again, it was way worse than that.
To my great surprise, the guy doesn’t seem the least bit phased as I sheepishly walk out to of the bathroom and tip toe back into bed. He stares lovingly into my eyes again like nothing happened. We cuddle for awhile, then he gets up and takes his turn in the fart chamber. I pretend not to notice. He clearly doesn’t care. What the hell is going on here???
It turns out, the F-word (farting) and the D-word (diarrhea) are not dirty words here.
In fact, no one cares at all. You get a free pass to fart and crap with reckless abandon. Too many spicy noodles…no problem! It’s so common, people even use it as their de facto excuse. Don’t want to go to work? Just call your boss and tell him you have diarrhea. Need to cancel a tour last minute — play the D-card.
Don’t believe me? Here’s some more evidence:
- On a first date with a local guy, I hadn’t quite figured out how to use the toilets here yet. I come back from the bathroom and proceed to talk to him for another half hour…we laugh, flirt, smile and eat. As we are walking out from the restaurant, I look down and discover a horrific, impossible NOT to notice poop smear on the front of my shorts. He doesn’t say anything. (I’ve replayed it in my mind scene by scene and the only plausible explanation I can up with is a stray dog came and crapped on my shorts when I wasn’t paying attention.) He asks me out on another date.
- I was dating another local guy for about a week. We’re in bed, and all of a sudden I hear a deafening fart beneath the sheets. I look at him in disbelief. He has a “not guilty” look on his face. A world-class farting/laughing contest ensues. He remains my boyfriend for several months.
- It’s the second night in a hotel with another local guy. He is brushing his teeth and talking about plans for tomorrow while he stands in front of the sink. He nonchalantly pushes out an astronomical fart that echoes off all of the walls and doesn’t fidget at all. I laugh hysterically. He asks “what’s so funny?”
- Another “one-night-stand man” from Bali gets up in the morning and walks to the toilet, which is connected to the bedroom (no walls or doors). He takes a prolonged, gloriously-loud dump then waltzes back to bed like nothing happened. Not even a smile to acknowledge this is awkward. We go on several more dates.
- When I met my long-term boyfriend’s family, he introduced me to his 19 year old son, his best friend/his wife/their two kids and his former boss like this “This is Rachel. She has diarrhea.” No one laughs.
So the next time you are on a first date and wondering if you should try the spicy goat curry, the answer is a resounding “YES!” Turns out you don’t need to give a shit about minor details like this in Bali.