Blood, Sweat, and Tears in a Bangkok Bathroom

Kate Blazar

I’ve always had an insatiable desire for travel.  So in my junior year in college, I took a leave of absence from school and planned an unofficial, DIY “study abroad” program: 3 months of backpacking around Asia.  Starting in Bangkok.  In February.  When it’s HOT.

After a few days of exploring Bangkok’s overwhelming chaos, I decided to brave Chatuchak Weekend Market, a 35-acre maze of 8,000 vendors selling everything from t-shirts to turtles to dishwashers.  It’s an endless sea of people, noise, and stuff. And somewhere between buying a tapestry and eating barbequed insects, I needed a restroom.  

I followed a sign pointing down an alley to a public toilet, knowing that alley toilets are not luxury facilities.  And sure enough, I soon found myself in a filthy, sweltering outhouse, staring down at a squat-style toilet, a water spigot, and a tin can for pouring water down to “flush.”

And no waste bin.  Which meant no place to throw away my tampon.  So, I did what most women would do in that circumstance, even though I knew I shouldn’t:  I tossed the tampon in the toilet.  

I filled the tin can with water and poured it into the toilet.  But neither the water nor the tampon went down.  I tried again, this time forcefully dumping the water, but the tampon kept swimming around.  And then, as I reached down to fill the can a third time, I slipped on the grime-covered floor tiles.

There I was, sprawled out, soaked with sweat, staring at a bloody pool, and sobbing.  

I was quite literally a hot mess.

Fortunately the third time was, indeed, the charm.  Down went the tampon.  Out I went, back onto the streets of Bangkok.  But first, I turned around and took a picture of that toilet:

Traumatized though I was in that moment, I had no idea then how important that experience would become.  I certainly didn’t imagine it would ultimately become part of the inspiration for designing a menstrual hygiene product and launching Animosa.

Believe it or not, this is just Part 1 of Kate’s Menstrual Misadventures.  Part 2 involves some pesky ravens on an otherwise awesome Grand Canyon trip.  But this problem isn’t limited to toilets in Thailand or annoyingly dexterous critters in National Parks.  In fact, we’ve heard tons of stories from women who have all faced this basic dilemma:

periods + no waste bin = @#*?!!

It doesn’t have to be this way! Stay tuned for more on this issue, and what we intend to do about it - because biology shouldn’t be a barrier!


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Kate Blazar