Friday, February 01, 2008

International Bathrooms

Two thought about bathrooms from today's travel. For those of you unable to discuss "the powder room" dispassionately and with a calm stomach, abandon ye this post now.

Bangkok. A sign beside the toilet said, in English, "Do not place tissues in the flush toilet." I thought about this for a long time, trying to discover the intended meaning of this sign. A small wastebasket beside the toilet implied that I was not meant to put used toilet paper in the toilet. I have been in countries where this was the case, so this could be true. However, in the rest of Thailand I had thrown such waste into the toilet with impunity. It could be that the toilets at the Bangkok airport have been a source of major controversy and perhaps do not work correctly. But then I thought it might be referring to tissue paper, meaning "kleenex"... I don't know why they would care, but I am a cultural outsider, aren't I? In the end, I used the small wastebasket for the toilet paper and hoped that this would not be an unpleasant surprise for some poor Thai lady.

Tokyo. A quick stop in the restroom of the airport lounge revealed a clean stall that smelled as if some fellow traveller might have exploded in it. As I stood debating whether or not I could hold my breath long enough to fulfill my intestinal purposes, I noticed an electrical outlet next to the toilet. Above it stood a small table, apparently meant for... a laptop computer? Could this be? Do people really need to check their email or blog from the toilet? There is wireless in here -- I mean, in there. There is wireless in there.