What you don’t expect to miss when you are overseas

Dear paper towel,

I miss you. I know you’re not environmentally correct, but damn you are useful. Yet, for whatever reasons, you are not embraced by many other countries. South Korea, Vietnam, and Oman all deny your very existence. You would be so greatly appreciated in these places. What happened? Did you do something to offend these lovely nations? Or do you think you’re just too good for the other side of the globe?

While I admire the tissue for trying to step up to the plate, it just doesn’t cut it. Below, you see a lovely feast of chimac (chicken and beer) just like we would eat in Cheonan, South Korea (image courtesy of urbanspoon.com)

chimac urban spoon

You are supposed to eat this with chopsticks, but who are they kidding?

Do we have paper towels, or even a napkin, to help us clean up after ourselves, our hands covered in spicy fried chicken? No. We have tissues. And tissues simply do not work. I end up using about twenty just to make up for one of you and possibly one of your brothers or sisters. Two of you could have sacrificed and saved the fates of so many of your less strong paper brethren.

I missed you in Vietnam as well. Sure, sometimes wet wipes were provided at a restaurant, but I had to pay for those. If I wanted something for free, I had to rely on tissues again. They try, they really do. Better than nothing I suppose, but not really what I had hoped for.

no napkins just wet wipes

See the wet wipes next to me? I am too cheap to use them. I prefer to spend my money on beer.

Then I get to Oman. I thought maybe, somehow, things would be different here. The culture here compared to South Korea and Vietnam is much more wasteful. Plastic bags are used in abundance in grocery stores. One or two items – maybe three if the bagger is frugal – per sack. Workers look in amazement if I admit I don’t need a bag when all I buy is a pack of batteries. Surely I would be able to reunite with my beloved paper towel? A disposable, but effective, way to clean?

Alas, no.

Instead, I get toilet paper. Which is fine for when I am in the stalls, but here? Surely this is some kind of joke.

pt in br

This toilet paper roll was just installed in our school bathroom three days ago.

I wipe my hands after washing and it looks like this:

pt hands

This makes me sad.

What good is that?

So please, paper towel, get a better publicist, start a global PR campaign, or just make amends with the rest of the world – or stop being so selfish, dammit. You are needed out here. You are life changing and have a lot to offer so many.


A messy expat.


One thought on “What you don’t expect to miss when you are overseas

  1. Pingback: False hopes: I still miss paper towels | Semester 9 Minute

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