Blood, Sweat, and Tears in a Bangkok Bathroom
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.