Heroic Tips for Using Southeast Asia's 'Bum Guns'

Uh oh
Uh oh | © Meditations/Pixabay
Kyle Hulme

If you’ve been travelling for any length of time, you’ll know that there are some things that are done differently on foreign shores. Take bathrooms for examples – most of us are adept at using the humble sit-down toilet back home, but leave us in a room with a squat toilet and no paper and we’ll be scratching our heads and crossing our legs. That said, it doesn’t mean our way is necessarily the right way – and when it comes to Southeast Asia’s ‘bum guns’, we could learn a thing or two. Here’s how to use them.

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Know the facts – it’s clean and hygienic

So picture this – you’re walking your dog, and it does its business on the side of the road. “Not a problem,” you think – “I’ll just pick it up with –WHOOPS, it’s on my hand!”. Would you be content to just wipe your poop-covered hand with a tissue? Though not. When you compare the bum gun’s spray of water against Westerners’ use of toilet paper, it’s actually much more hygienic and does a better job of cleaning you. See, it’s nothing to be scared of.

Understand what it’s used for

Prepare yourself

Before using it for the first time, you may need to mentally and physically prepare yourself. It can be daunting at first, but understand millions of people around the world use it, and plenty of travellers return home only to install them in their homes, so they really can’t be that bad. Make sure you’ve got a few pieces of toilet paper with you and some hand sanitiser too for good measure, and you’re ready to try the bum gun.

Test the spray

Before you go ahead and start to use it on a rather delicate part of the body, you’ll want to give it a test spray first, both to ascertain whether it’s in working order and to check the power of the gun itself (the power can vary place to place, in some it’s a weak trickle and in others it’s a mighty jet of water). Test it by holding it and pulling the trigger, and once you’ve got a good feel for it and how it works, you’ll be ready for the next step.

Get a feel for it

Do your business and flush

We’re not going to tell you how to poop (don’t strain, let it come naturally), but remember that once you’ve done it, make sure you flush it away before going to town with the bum gun. Not only will this get rid of any unpleasant odours, there’s also less chance of you accidentally spraying into the excrement and making a mess that even the bum gun can’t handle.

Gently does it

Take the bum gun under yourself – front to back – and pull lightly on the trigger. You might think your trigger discipline is good now, but using a gun under pressure it completely different – shooting into the bowl or the floor is one thing, but testing the aim and the water pressure levels on your body are completely different. You don’t want to accidentally drenching your legs, back or t-shirt, so don’t embrace your inner Rambo just yet.

Easy does it

Target in sight? Proceed to engage

Once you’re feeling fairly confident with your aim, you can up the power to ensure you’re actually cleaning the area in question and not just wetting it. Unless you’ve grown up with a bidet at home, this may be an alien sensation, but it’s one you get used to. After you feel confident that the bulk of the offending excrement is gone, you can move onto the next stage.

The great debate – hand or toilet paper?

Prepare to step out of your comfort zone. Whilst many Western travellers and expats with then proceed to have a secondary clean with toilet paper, it’s completely normal by local standards to take your bare hand and use it in tandem with the spray to clean yourself. We know, it sounds a little disgusting, but it makes for a superior cleaning experience. If you’re not quite ready for that yet, then take baby steps – nobody will judge you for using toilet paper.

Hands or not – it’s up to you

Dry with toilet paper

Regardless of whether you went to town with your hand or stuck to toilet paper, it’s important to use toilet paper to dry yourself – nobody wants to leave the bathroom with a wet bum that makes it look like you had an accident from behind, so make sure you’re good and dry before leaving. And remember – put the toilet paper in a bin, don’t flush it! Many toilets in Southeast Asia can’t handle flushing toilet paper, so ensure that you dispose of your wastepaper in the correct manner.

Good for drying only

Wash your hands thoroughly

It goes without saying that after any trip to any bathroom, you should wash your hands thoroughly and with soap. Despite the prevalence of the bum gun, many bathrooms you encounter may not have soap or anything to clean your hands with, which is why you should make sure to carry around hand sanitiser to destroy all the germs.

Wash your hands

Lament the fact you’ll be bum gun-less at home

Everyone’s first encounter with a bum gun is a little uncomfortable, but the more you use them, the more you’ll realise it truly is a great way to clean up after using the bathroom. Going back to toilet paper at home just won’t feel the same, so either invest in some wet wipes or better still, join the revolution and order a bum gun back home – you won’t regret it.

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