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There is some truth to the idea that the culture of a country is largely revealed by how its people handle themselves when in the toilet. That Americans and Brits clean themselves up by smearing their bottoms with toilet paper, then saunter off as though clean, reveals a lot about the way they deal with the trials and tribulations of daily life.

Some say that the old Thai tradition of cleaning oneself with water and the left hand as rather uncivilized, but at least one is clean when finished. It also should be pointed out that once Thais at large gained access to pressurized hoses, they quickly introduced one of the world’s great inventions to the Thai toilet: the bum gun (thus eliminating the need to use the left hand any longer).

It always is comical to watch farangs complain about a Sakon Nakhon toilet without toilet paper and then search madly for any kind of paper product or rag, when the toilet is already equipped with a bum gun that will get them clean as a whistle and put a spring in their step.

For those unfamiliar with a Thai toilet in Thailand, a bum gun is like the hose that you often find attached to a kitchen sink, but in this case it is attached to the wall next to the toilet. You slightly lift yourself off the Thai toilet seat and then spray yourself clean with the bum gun. It is always good first to test the power of a Thai bum gun, else you may give yourself an unexpected enema. Nearly all toilets in Sakon Nakhon are equipped with these, one exception being some toilets in very rural Sakon Nakhon temples.

In today’s Thai language lesson, we will teach you how to ask if a bathroom has a bum gun. If the toilet is sans bum gun, then you may wish to grab a handful of napkins if you don’t fancy a left handed clean up.

ห้องน้ำ มี หัวฉีด หรือเปล่า

Hâwng-náhm mee hŭa-chèet rĕu bplào?

Room-water have sprayer or not?

Does the bathroom have a bum gun?

Learn Thai Language Tip: If you want to ask for toilet paper in Thailand, the Thai word for toilet paper is an easy one to remember. It is the same word as the Thai word for a tissue or paper napkin, and is borrowed from the English word tissue: thít-chôo (ทิชชู่).

To remember how to say bum gun in Thai try using this rhyme: Don’t use a sheet when there’s a hŭa-chèet!


David Alan