Spicy beef rendang devoured, your stomach's reeling. Now Mother Nature's a callin'. But as you stumble into that small stall in Malaysia, you remember that Charmin's hard to come by in Southeast Asia's public loos. So, like the bold backpackers before you, you brave the built-in water sprayer that hangs next to every porcelain bowl: the bum gun.
The guidelines are simple. Just squat, aim and cleanse — and soon, you too will toss that itchy, fibrous wad we call toilet paper for good. That's a load of crap, you say? Well, a growing camp of Westerners have already converted to the heavenly hose. Grant Perrott, a 24-year-old electrician from London who used the bum gun throughout Southeast Asia, says it's more ergonomic, economical and effective than anything else his posterior has ever encountered: a "revolutionary bit of kit" with a "tender, sweet blast" that we won't be able to live without one day. He now "passionately" believes that we'll look back on our primitive wiping ways just like we regard "ancient civilizations thinking the Earth was a flat surface."
See how bathrooms differ around the world:
Bathrooms around the world
Trade the toilet paper for a bum gun
CHENGDU, CHINA - NOVEMBER 07: (CHINA OUT) A man walks out of a five-star public toilet at Qingcheng mountain resort on November 7, 2015 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China. The World Toilet Day falls in November 19 each year and will kick off Thursday this year. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY MAUDE BRULARD A view of the bathroom at the world's first real-life 'sand castle hotel', constructed from tonnes of sand and enforced with wood, in the small southern Dutch city of Oss, on October 2, 2015. Curious tourists and the young at heart this summer flocked to Oss to spend a night, for 150 euros ($167) per night, in a specially-built room deep inside the heart of the massive castle sculpture made entirely of sand. Two sand hotels were built in the Netherlands at venues where annual sand art sculpture festivals are being held: one in Oss and the other in the northern Frisian city of Sneek. AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
CHONGQING, CHINA - MAY 02: (CHINA OUT) Toilet troughs at a public toilet which is honoured as giant 'castle' toilet in Yangren Jie (also known as Foreigner Street) in Nan'an District on May 2, 2015 in Chongqing, China. The World Toilet Day falls in November 19 each year and will kick off Thursday this year. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
TAIYUAN, CHINA - MARCH 25: (CHINA OUT) A man pees at a toilet where three female models in the provocative attire in a restaurant on March 25, 2015 in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province of China. The World Toilet Day falls in November 19 each year and will kick off Thursday this year. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
CHONGQING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 07: (CHINA OUT) Two citizens watch a camera-shaped public toilet in Shiqiaopu Street on February 7, 2014 in Chonqging, China. The World Toilet Day falls in November 19 each year and will kick off Thursday this year. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
NINGBO, CHINA - MARCH 13: (CHINA OUT) A public toilet is seen beside Beidou River on March 13, 2012 in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province of China. The World Toilet Day falls in November 19 each year and will kick off Thursday this year. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JANUARY 6: EXCLUSIVE A urinal that has a video game console above it in the SEGA World complex in Akihabara Electric Town, Tokyo, Japan. For men a stroll to the gents has become a leap into the twenty first century, thanks to the SEGA video games corporation. The company has developed a new entertainment system which is incorporated into a public lavatory. Now rows of peeing men can spend a penny and get a great video game experience while they are at it. The 'Toylet' male urinal video game provides a choice of sumo wrestling, erasing graffiti and dousing an exploding volcano. The 'Toylet' works by a pressure sensor in the base of the urinal measuring the strength and location of the urine stream as it hits the basin. An LCD screen displays the game graphics and rewards the strength, length and accuracy of the pee through a typical video game points system. There are currently no plans for a multiplayer version of the 'Toylet'. (Photo by Matthew Tabaccos / Barcroft Medi / Getty Images)
Toilets In The Middle Of Nowhere At Star Wars Movie Set Near Tozeur, Tunisia. (Photo by Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)
ZHENGZHOU, CHINA - JUNE 12: (CHINA OUT) A elephant-shaped public toilet is seen on June 12, 2015 in Zhengzhou, Henan Province of China. The World Toilet Day falls in November 19 each year and will kick off Thursday this year. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
Heerlen, NETHERLANDS: This picture taken 12 July 2006 shows urinals shaped like a woman's mouth at The McDonalds in Heerlen. McDonalds is going to remove its urinals after complaints by a tourist, declared the owner, Giel Pijpers, 12 July 2006. In his opinion it is art, but in America there are different opinions. The urinals will be sold. 'I'm not going to be pissed off about a couple of urinals' , he declared on Wednesday. AFP PHOTO/ANP PHOTO MARCEL VAN HOORN (Photo credit should read MARCEL VAN HOORN/AFP/Getty Images)
Sketch, London, United Kingdom, Architect Architect Unknown, Sketch Egg Pod Toilets Wider Angle. (Photo by View Pictures/UIG via Getty Images)
Grimace all you want, but joining the bum gun club comes with plenty of perks. First off, for you tree huggers, it's an environmentally friendly alternative to the 50 pounds of toilet paper the average American dumps each year, and that doesn't even count the so-called "flushable" wipes that are clogging up sewage systems from here to there. Indeed, the bum gun was born of practical considerations; plumbing systems in developing Asia are so basic that a few sheets of tissue can throw them into a clog-and-overflow tizzy, says Bob Clampitt. (He adds that his own stainless-steel hose is downright "therapeutic.")
If the bum gun is far less bulky and pretentious than European bidets, it's also idiot-proof. Leave the seat-warming, air-drying, Bluetooth-equipped toilets that are far more complicated than they should be to the Japanese: The bum gun is an alternative for derrières that need quick and easy, not pomp and pampering. And it's more sanitary, according to proponents like Conor McMillen. (The handyman, based in Texas, installed his own DIY bum gun in 10 minutes.) As far as your keister goes, water beats paper any day — and for the record, rocks and scissors probably fare much worse.
So ardent are the new bum-gunners that you can now find such attachments for sale in the West. Still, it may be hard to get more people on board. Globetrotter Lauren Manuel McShane refused to touch one when she jetted to Malaysia, complaining about the wet floors that result, the required squatting. Plus, wasting water is a big no-no in drought-ridden areas. Places like dry California may not exactly leap for the idea of a dribbling hose for your fanny. And then there are the woes of wet feet or, even worse, a damp bottom in a business suit. You still have to use one or two squares of paper to dry off if you're in a hurry.
But at least, unlike paper, the water can be treated and reused for multiple bottom washings. One toilet paper roll takes an estimated 37 gallons of water to produce and an additional 1.6 gallons to flush down each wad. So, if you want a happier heinie, the humble bum gun is the clear underdog. It deserves its due recognition on the hygiene scene — and we don't have to take it sitting down.