Expat Housing: How to Bond With Your Bidet

by missfootloose on May 28, 2011 · 28 comments

in exotica, expat housing, Moldova

I found myself on my knees last week cleaning not only a bidet, but also a urinal (so elegantly called a pissoir by the French).  This was a new experience for me.  Being of the female persuasion, I’ve never had a close encounter with a urinal, and although foreign hotels and houses in Italy have given me an acquaintance with bidets, I have 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 did not dispose of me, rendering me destitute and forcing me to join the honorable brigade of house cleaners and hotel workers to make a living. I am safely ensconced in what is now my new house in Chisinau, Moldova. It’s tucked away in a small mews near the centru and is shiny and almost new.  It’s a small and modest place by American suburban standards, but it boasts three bidets among its plumbing fixtures, features not usually found in American suburbs.

After living out of suitcases for six weeks, we finally moved into our new abode one week ago.  Boxes and suitcases are unpacked, which does not mean everything in them has found a resting place for the next few years.  Heaps and piles still sit on beds and floors.  Because, well, I’m sure you can guess.  This new house is lacking in closets, cabinets and drawers.  What to do with clothes?  Towels and linens?  Our beautifully appointed, tiled bathrooms on the upper level have no place to put the towels and there is no linen closet anywhere.  However the place is rich in wasted space as well as nooks and crannies.  I look in wonder at this professionally finished  place with its hardwood floors and beautifully tiled bathrooms and wonder if anyone remotely female ever looked at the design and layout of the place. Surely not.

Please come for coffee, or a meal some time. And 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 het toilet or de WC (and yes, those midget sinks in them are ridiculous).

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

WC: Three close friends

What was the architect thinking?  What was he thinking when he sized out the miniscule kitchen?  It has 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 has cubbyholes on the kitchen side, but no drawers for utensils such as a can opener,  a corkscrew, a handgun cheese grater.  However, the stove and oven combo is a joy to behold.  I can cook a meal for a multitude with this appliance, but what to do with the dishes afterward?  The baby dishwasher only does dinner for two.

Fabulous stove. (Fridge is to the left)

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 gladly throw in the bidet to make the deal.  What are visitors 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 what to do with that bidet in the WC?  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.  But I think what I’ll do is put a plant in it.  A big fern.  It will 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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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Mara May 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm

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…


missfootloose May 30, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Then again, a quirky house is a fun subject of discussion!


Judy May 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm

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 all the time!


missfootloose May 30, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Oh, I love your story about the Baku kitchenless apartment! It’s what makes expat life so much fun (a lot of the time, if not always 😉


Anna Maria Moore May 28, 2011 at 5:22 pm

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!


missfootloose May 30, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I had a hunch my fern-disguise for the bidet was not an original idea 😉 I’ll probably do it for the urinal as well. One less thing to clean!


edj May 29, 2011 at 3:29 am

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.


missfootloose May 30, 2011 at 4:34 pm

I could just picture the kid, brushing his teeth at the bidet. Very creative of him, of course. It gave me a good laugh.


Janet Abercrombie May 29, 2011 at 5:12 am

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.


missfootloose May 30, 2011 at 4:37 pm

It’s a scheme! Of course!


Walter Knight May 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm

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


guyana gyal May 31, 2011 at 12:03 am

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.


Rambles with Reese May 31, 2011 at 2:06 am

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.


missfootloose June 2, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I like the black and white in the kitchen too. It’s a house with quirks, but so much of it is really well-done and comfortable, so it’s a “conversation piece.”


Pat June 2, 2011 at 11:04 am

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.


Lady Fi June 2, 2011 at 5:57 pm

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


GutsyWriter June 2, 2011 at 7:05 pm

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?


Fiona Leonard June 3, 2011 at 11:24 am

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

Great pictures.


Ellen June 3, 2011 at 1:35 pm

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!


Teri June 3, 2011 at 8:51 pm

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!


YTSL June 4, 2011 at 4:15 am

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 have small bathroom/toilets as well as kitchens, I find. Mine is the exception — and in all honesty, one reason I chose it was because of its nicely laid out bathroom! 😀


Barb June 5, 2011 at 6:31 pm

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!!!


Kelly June 6, 2011 at 7:27 pm

“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.


Jennifer June 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm

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!


Claire June 14, 2011 at 2:32 pm

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. !!!!


Victoria September 17, 2011 at 8:04 am

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 while I spent the day visiting museums before heading back to Amsterdam on another night train! I arrived feeling quite grubby and she said I could shower before breakfast… the shower was directly over top of the hole that was the toilet so one had to straddle the hole while showering… best to not be drunk in that bathroom!


missfootloose September 17, 2011 at 9:00 am

I love this one! I understand that Paris has some funky little apartments with creative ways to save space, but this tops it all! Welcome to my blog. Hope you have fun!


dutchbaby October 5, 2011 at 6:56 pm

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


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