Though many guesthouses and hotels have Western-style showers, the traditional scoop-and-slosh method of bathing is also common across Asia. This basically involves dipping a scoop or small bowl into a large bucket and then chucking it over yourself. The cardinal rule of the ‘mandi’ is never to put your soap or shampoo into the basin of water, and though it often looks like a big stone bathtub, never, ever get into it as this water might have to supply the next two-weeks’ worth of guests.
Some other unexpected bathing habits:
- In rural Asia, the local river, lake or well doubles as the village washroom and everyone congregates there at the end of the day for their evening wash. Men and women are always separated, and there’s absolutely no ogling or communication between the two groups.
- Traditional Japanese hotels generally have old-fashioned bathtubs. These have no running hot water, but work instead by heating up the full tub with an element, like a kettle.
- Most small towns in Korea have public bathhouses – a national institution that should definitely be experience. In these you wash yourself on the side of the main pool and them climb in for a very hot soak and a chat with your neighbors.
*Excerpted from the Rough Guide to First-Time Asia
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