Expat Housing: How to Bond With Your Bidet

by missfootloose on March 18, 2018 · 29 comments

in exotica, expat housing, Moldova

I found myself on my knees one day cleaning not only a bidet, but also a urinal (so elegantly called a pissoir by the French). This event took place in Moldova where I lived my expat life at the time, and it was a new experience for me. Being of the female persuasion, I’d never had a close encounter with a urinal, and although foreign hotels and houses in Italy had given me an acquaintance with bidets, I’d never been in a position to have to clean them.

I think I hear your collective gasp from the far corners of the world, but not to worry. My man had not disposed of me, rendering me destitute and forcing me to join the honorable brigade of house cleaners and hotel workers to make a living. I was safely ensconced in what was then my new house in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova (yes, that is a country).

It was tucked away in a small mews near the centru and was shiny and brand new. It was a small and modest place by American suburban standards, but it boasted three bidets among its plumbing fixtures, features not usually found in American suburbs.

We’d only recently moved into our new abode. Boxes and suitcases were only partially unpacked. Heaps and piles perched on beds and floors. Because, well, I’m sure you can guess: This new house was lacking in closets, cabinets and drawers. What to do with clothes? Towels and linens? The beautifully appointed bathrooms on the upper level had no place to put the towels and there was no linen closet anywhere. However the place was rich in wasted space as well as nooks and crannies. I was gobsmacked when first I wandered around the professionally finished house with its gleaming hardwood floors and beautifully tiled Italian-style bathrooms and wondered if anyone remotely female ever looked at the design and layout of the place. Surely not.

Now, allow me to show you the bathroom, washroom, WC, the toilet, whatever they call these facilities used by visitors when mother nature calls. In my native Holland they call it the toilet or the WC (and yes, those midget sinks in them are ridiculous).

Now, see the photo below? That’s what you would find when you visited Miss Footloose at home in Moldova: A generous sink (not shown), a toilet, a bidet, and a urinal. And if this was not good enough for you, well, you just couldn’t be my friend.

What was the architect thinking? What was he (definitely not SHE) thinking when he sized out the minuscule kitchen? It had a single sink with a tiny piece of counter next to it and a cabinet above it, the only cabinet in the place. The big island separating the kitchen from the dining area had cubbyholes on the kitchen side, but no drawers. I repeat, NO DRAWERS for utensils such as knives, forks, a can opener, a corkscrew, a stun gun, a cheese grater. However, the stove and oven combo was a joy to behold. I could cook a meal for a multitude with this appliance, but what to do with the dishes afterward? The baby dishwasher only did dinner for two.

I’m sorry if I sound like a whiner, but I must confess that I would have gladly traded in le pissoir for a standard-sized dishwasher. (It’s not every day you can say that, can you?) I’d have gladly thrown in the bidet to make the deal. What would visitors be doing with a bidet when just coming over for a cup of oolong? I really don’t want to think about it, do you?

So, I asked myself, what to do with that bidet in the WC? (Or the urinal for that matter.) I could stack the dirty dishes in it after a dinner party so they’d have a place to hang out while waiting for their turn in the dishwasher. Or I could fill it with water and start a goldfish farm. I decided to put a plant in it. A big fern. It would make a charming, artistic composition, don’t you agree?

Conclusion: To bond with your bidet then, you first get on your knees and get to know it, then you put a plant in it.

* * *

I’d love to hear if you have any interesting experiences with bidets and/or urinals. Other bathroom or plumbing adventures welcome too, just keep it cleanish.

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edj
Guest

Oh yes! Sounds like Moldovian architects would get on FAMOUSLY with Mauritanian ones! When we were looking at houses, we saw one with this enormous long hallway that ended with two tiny toilet stalls, no sink anywhere near at hand! They were also fond of bidets. When we first arrived, we stayed in a friend’s apt. Our oldest was 5 at the time. Once we told him to wash his hands after using the toilet and he said, “I always do! I use my special sink!” Yes, that was the bidet… just his size! 😉

dutchbaby
Guest

It’s all about priorities isn’t it? I’m with you, loose le pissoir and usher in a decent dishwasher!

Victoria
Guest

Found my way here again, this time from Dutchbaby’s blog… so I’m adding your blog to my list of blogs I follow so I can remember to stop by from time to time and have a chuckle. I see your aim is to amuse and this post certainly did that! My bathroom story is similar to the previous except nothing ended up on my face… once took the night train from Amsterdam to Paris and visited a friend (French) who had a flat on the left bank and had said she would feed me breakfast before heading off to work… Read more »

Claire
Guest

Bathroom tales: The most disgusting “bathroom” I have ever encountered was in Bangladesh. I must use the term loosely, as there was no room, and I certainly was not going to be taking a bath. There was whole in the floor and that was it. In an effort to keep this clean, I will just say that what was on the floor, ended up on my face. !!!!

Jennifer
Guest

Welcome to the former Soviet Union and all the pent up frustrated architects and designers gone WILD!! I often think that we should get EXTREME Home makeover to come over and redo our expat apartments! The bidet is a classic. I laughed and laughed!
Keep in touch over the summer!

Kelly
Guest

“I would have gladly traded in le pissoir for a standard-sized dishwasher”

I may just put this on my tombstone!

As mentioned above by some others, the paper isn’t usually flushed here in Lima, Peru either. The old sewage pipes are narrow (and I’ve been told, made of terra cotta, which is rough and snags) so flushing paper quickly causes terrible backups.

Barb
Guest

Karen, I’ve never been out of the USA, but enjoy learning about other people’s lives in other countries! I do find it humorous, though, that the architect made sure that you had a lovely bathroom (Post pics of the rest of it, please!) and that he gave you a really small dishwasher and what I’d consider to be a bar sink. Love the backsplash and the stove/oven!!!

YTSL
Guest

All three apartments I’ve lived in thus far in Hong Kong have small kitchens. I have to admit that I don’t mind — because Hong Kong really is a place where I have not cooked a single meal (especially if you don’t count boiling water for pot noodles). I eat the majority of my meals outside of my home. As for breakfast: I tend to just have coffee and fresh fruit/a cereal bar/a piece of pastry bought the night before/etc.! My present apartment is like your current place in having a larger bathroom/toilet area than kitchen. Usually, Hong Kong apartments… Read more »

Teri
Guest
Teri

Lol! Loved reading this. House is adorable! As someone living in the US but loving a bidet I DEPLORE that they aren’t mandatory. Great for feeling refreshed and clean. At our local Home Depot they have a contraption called “Mr. Bidet” which my DH affixed to our toilet so voila! I now have a bidet!

Ellen
Guest

Love your blog! Definitely looks like your place was designed for male inhabitants.
By the way, I don’t know which Muslim countries Judy lived in, but here in Turkey (at least in the cities) most people do use toilet paper. But they don’t flush it. Next to every toilet here you’ll find a little wastebasket with a lid that swings open. This is changing here in Antalya, so those of us in recently build apartments can flush our toilet paper. Ah, the luxuries we take for granted in the west!

Fiona Leonard
Guest

A bidet AND a urinal and you still can’t find somewhere to wash your dishes????

Great pictures.

GutsyWriter
Guest

You are too damn funny! I couldn’t stop laughing at the photo of the pissoir. Never seen one in a home. As far as 3 bidets, how much sex goes on in Moldova? Anyway, I think your kitchen sink is a bar sink, and the dishwasher is for the bartender to wash the glasses. Is that a possibility?

Lady Fi
Guest

Definitely a male who designed the bathroom and kitchen! I’m used to bidets and think they are a wonderful invention.

Pat
Guest

Hilarious! I have used toilets all across Europe and never seen one as fascinating (ha) as yours. Had my own fiasco with a bathroom fixture abroad. Early in our marriage, my French husband returned from work to find me standing in floodwater holding my hand over our bidet fountain when our plumbing broke.

Rambles with Reese
Guest

This post makes me smile. I hear you about the urinals. We have a bidet that we don’t really use except to wash our feet on occasion cause’ we live by the beach. The snazzy tiles in the bathroom make me want to dance – thinking old disco hall. But, I do adore your kitchen. Love the black and white diamond backsplash and your oven looks wonderful to cook with.

guyana gyal
Guest

Hahahaha little Elliot brushing his teeth is the best one yet 🙂

In the middle of a field in Oz, I saw a latrine [dunny, the Aussies call it].

Ahhhm, Judy, many, many, many Muslims do use toilet-paper…then wash afterwards too.

Walter Knight
Guest

From a male perspective, with three choices, there is no excuse for missing.

Janet Abercrombie
Guest

My theory on lack of storage and inefficient layouts (also a problem in Hong Kong): IKEA has secretly infiltrated housing design operations in most countries, ensuring continual plight for semi-permanent storage and fixture systems.

edj
Guest

What a charming bathroom! It’s lovely! And the kitchen! You are right about the architect being male though. That would be a great bachelor pad, including teeny-tiny dishwasher 😉

We had been in Mauritania a couple of days when Elliot, then 5, announced he’d been brushing his teeth in the “little sink.” He meant the bidet. It was just his height. I still can’t think about it.

Anna Maria Moore
Guest

When we lived in Thailand, our four bathrooms had bidets which I used to call “water fountains” and were the cause of great mirth for our visitors from the US and for my teenage friends. When we lived in Nigeria later, the toilets had urinals and my mother disguised them all with ferns. It didn’t look bad, actually!

Judy
Guest

Having lived in 3 Muslim countries I’ve lived with lots of bidets as well as those spray hoses (which always leak) hanging on the wall next to the toilet. It was quite a revelation to me to that Muslims don’t use toilet paper. But you kitchen takes my breath away; I’ve never seen anything so beautiful and yet so useless at the same time! 😉 Although I did have a friend who was shown a newly renovated apartment in Baku with no kitchen at all. The landlord told her quite emphatically that expats didn’t need kitchens because they ate out… Read more »

Mara
Guest

Drunk architect! Well, drunk often enough that he is in need of not just one but two throwing up areas while he is hazily contemplating life from his throne! And the pissoir is definitely at the right height! Although a fern in that one might also look nice, better anyway than a pissoir…

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