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Monthly Archive for December, 2015

I have a friend who worries about where I will go to the toilet when I am on some of my more exotic adventures. On my recent trip to Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, our guides provided for “Happy room stops.”  During those stops, I ran across a few toilets that are worth mentioning.  I only had to use a bush once!

With Eastern style toilets, we were left on our own. In this one, we were to place our feet on the blue part, squat, and “do our business.”  No toilet tissue is provided.  The pink pan is used to dip water out of the small reservoir to the right to “flush.”  Much nicer than some I have used which were just a hole in the cement.

Eastern style toilet

Eastern style toilet

With Western style toilets, there were directions for Asians and others who are used to squatting.

Western style toilet

Western style toilet

 

More directions for eastern users

More directions for eastern users

Directions for eastern users

Directions for eastern users

 

Most of the bathrooms in our hotels had bidet sprayers and some public toilets also had them. This happy room has a sprayer and even has toilet tissue, so it was very happy!

Happy room with bidet spray and toilet tissue

At one stop, the men’s room had some clever pictures (our [male] guide photographed it for me).

Men's Happy Room

Note the camera and measuring tape held by a couple of the girls.

We visited a shop where prostheses were made, mostly for those who lost limbs due to stepping on a land mine. The plumbing under the sink gave me quite a start!

Prostheses

And lastly, a toilet in the Tokyo airport. Several choices for your comfort!

Toilet in Tokyo airport

The Search for Catholic Churches in the Ancient Kingdoms of Southeast Asia

November 22, Bangkok, Thailand.  I was able to go to 5:00 pm Mass at the Church of the Redeemer.  The Mass was in English. To get to the church, I rode a motorcycle taxi!  The driver dropped me off then came back for me at the end of Mass.  I gave 10 rosaries to the priest who celebrated Mass.

Church of the Redeemer

Church of the Redeemer

On the way to the Church of the Redeemer

On the way to the Church of the Redeemer

November 24, Luang Prabang, Laos. Today was the Feast of the Vietnamese Martyrs.  I was wishing I was in Vietnam to celebrate it!  Our guide took me to a “Catholic” Church but when he introduced me to the priest’s wife, I figured out it was Christian, not Catholic.  There was a cross but no crucifix and no altar.  The wife said they had had a large celebration on Sunday with many westerners.

November 27, Vientiane, Laos.  I visited the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. I had to look quite a while to find an open door.  No one was in the church.  I said a few prayers and then found a statue of the Blessed Virgin with a plastic rosary in her hands (similar to the ones I brought.)  I left 20 rosaries on the shelf at her feet.

Cathedral of the Sacred Heart

Cathedral of the Sacred Heart

Mary with rosaries

Mary with rosaries

November 29, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I took a remok (similar to a tuk tuk) to St. Joseph Church for the 4:00 pm Mass.  Going to Mass here was special as my father’s name was Joseph and today was his birthday.  Mass was in a large chapel on the second floor. The floor was covered with woven mats; we removed our shoes before entering, then sat on the floor.  The priest, a young man, sat on a chair all during Mass except for the Consecration.  The choir was very nice with an electronic keyboard accompaniment.  This Mass was in Khmer (the official language of Cambodia).  When I first entered the chapel, there were few people there. I gave 10 rosaries to a little lady who was saying the rosary and tried to indicate that she was to give them away. Later three Missionary of Charity sisters (Mother Teresa’s community) came in and another sister whose habit I did not recognize.  Many people came to the Mass.

St. Joseph Church

St. Joseph Church

December 6, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  I walked to the Cathedral of Notre Dame for the 9:30 am Mass.  I arrived early and witnessed the baptism of about 10 babies and small children.  Mass was concelebrated in English by three priests, one of whom was from Orange County, California.  The other two were Vietnamese. I gave 10 rosaries to the celebrant, a Vietnamese priest. In our drives through the city and out into the country side, we saw many large churches.

Cathedral of Notre Dame

Cathedral of Notre Dame

Priest with rosaries

Priest with rosaries

 

 

What was interesting to me was that these were countries where 80% or more of the population are Buddhist, and maybe 1-2% are Christian.  And Cambodia and Vietnam are Communist countries!  In all the Masses I attended, the churches were full, and the people ranged from babies and young people to middle-aged and elderly.  Another thing I found interesting was that the churches contained statues of St. Joan of Arc and St. Therése, the Little Flower, probably reflecting the French influence in those countries.  Catholicism seems to be alive and well.