Sunday, September 10, 2017

Public Toilets And Tourists

What tourists find interesting in the restrooms of Singapore & Malaysia )

I sometimes wonder what is the most striking thing to a westerner who alights for the first time in an asian country. Is it the culture difference, the foreign language, the exotic foods, the unfamiliar smells and sights? Perhaps, they are most impressed by our architectural achievements such as the Esplanade of Singapore, or the Twin Towers of Malaysia. Maybe these western tourists are already jaded with big skyscrapers, especially if they hail from metropolises like New York. "You got a tall building? It's the tallest in the country/asia/eastern hemisphere/etc..? Good for you. Now take me to a satay stall", is how I imagine the conversation went in the cab ride. Maybe they do visit these national prides of ours, snapped a few pictures even. After all, when you're a tourist you gotta do "touristy" things, right? 

But I personally don't believe this type of attraction is what fascinates them the most. Instead, I believe it's the unanticipated and the unforeseen elements that are the most intriguing to these westerners. Things that we take for granted as mundane and ordinary may actually pique their interest. For example, I have seen tourists more thrilled by the humble rambutan fruit than they were by the towering Petronas Towers. The next example is the topic of this post itself, that is, public toilets (aka restrooms/ washrooms). If you're curious about what tourists think of our public toilets, read on. We will explore the westerners' fascination with our toilet culture pictorially below, through the eyes of the tourists themselves. I have compiled together some 'toilet photos' shared publicly on the Internet by tourists who vacationed in Singapore and Malaysia. Here we go. (Note: if you're expecting gross photos involving urine stains and/or feces, there are none.)

by Abulic, Creative Commons, Link
This is a warning sign found in a public toilet in Malaysia. It says in Malay, "Jangan memijak di atas penutup tandas". Literally translated as, "Don't step on top of the toilet cover". The tourist must have been amused enough by the necessity of this sign that he snapped this photo. He must have thought, "Who in the right mind would want to do their business like that?". Little did he know that some malaysians would do exactly that to avoid touching their bums on unhygienic toilet seats.

by Andrew, Creative Commons, Link
Yet another warning sign found in a public toilet in Malaysia. The malay phrase says, "Don't step on top". This photo was taken by a different tourist than the one above. It's clear that these tourists were really amused by the pervasiveness of this kungfu stance. The point here is that the westerner's 'toilet culture' shock was enough for him to snap this picture to share with the rest the world.

by Glen Bowman, Creative Commons, Link
The squatting stance is not restricted to Malaysians only. This is a poster found at a shopping mall restroom in Singapore. Conveying the same message of no squatting, but in a more humorous way. Apparently, some Singaporeans adopt the same strategy to hover their bums above unhygienic toilet seats.

by Kristina, Creative Commons, Link
A western tourist visiting Gardens by the Bay in Singapore took this photo. According to her, the stall on the left is a sitting-style toilet whereas the stall on the right is a squatting-style toilet. What amused her was the segregation of toilet type by age.

by Hiro, Creative Commons, Link
Detailed instructions on how to use a public toilet with emphasis on not squatting on the toilet seat, Sign was found in a public toilet in Kuala Lumpur. Photo taken by a Japanese tourist this time, not a westerner. Maybe all civilized peoples find our toilet culture alarming.

by Indi, Creative Commons, Link
Apparently, there's a diaper changing room inside a MALE toilet at Changi Airport, Singapore. Diaper changing isn't a chore exclusive to moms nowadays. The dads have to do it too. The tourist who took this photo was obviously very impressed by the progressiveness of Singaporeans.

by Map, Creative Commons, Link
By contrast, this photo was snapped by a tourist in a public bathroom of a Malaysian airport. There's instruction on how to press the flush button: use your finger, not your leg. Some people adopt the kick strategy to avoid touching the germy button.

by Saragoldsmith, Creative Commons, Link
Back to same old squatting on the toilet bowl phenomenon. This time the warning sign was found in a public toilet in Penang, Malaysia.

by Lyndi, Creative Commons, Link
Another funny poster found in a men's public toilet at a shopping mall in Singapore. This time it's an encouragement to the male patrons to 'aim well'. The westerner who took this photo was very amused by the 'toilet humor'.

by Li, Creative Commons, Link
Toilet sign found in a shopping mall in Bangsar, Malaysia. Yet another instruction on how to use a toilet bowl properly. Apparently even patrons of an upscale shopping mall are not averse to using the squat method on a sitting-style toilet.

by Kai, Creative Commons, Link
This is a sign found in a public restroom in Singapore. The message is, "Don't take a dump where you shower". Why is there a showering cubicle in a public restroom? Apparently this photo was snapped by a tourist at a stadium during a sporting event. Huh? Does that mean some Singaporean athletes actually shit while they shower?

by Golo, Creative Commons, Link
Here's probably the most detailed instructional poster anyone will ever need. With such clear instructions, this restroom must be the most well maintained and clean public toilet, right? Photo taken by a tourist in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

by Egui, Creative Commons, Link
This sign was found outside the National Mosque at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The tourist who snapped this photo was confused by the message. I am confused by it too. Was the visitors' toilet closed because of an exam? Why did they have to close a toilet for an exam? And what kind of exam did they conduct in a toilet? Huh?

by Mybukit, Creative Commons, Link

This is a sign found outside a public toilet at Semenggoh Wildlife Center, Sarawak Malaysia. What amused the tourist who took this photo was the very graphic nature of the drawing. If you look carefully at the two blue stick figures, you can actually see the penis clearly depicted. In case you're still wondering, the message here is: men should pee sitting down so that their urine is not splattered everywhere. Do you agree?

That's all for today. If you've enjoyed this post, then let your family and friends enjoy it too. Please share this post with them. Thank you and good day!