Those of a sensitive nature should turn away now.
The one thing I’d always found challenging in Malaysia was the state of the public toilets. They used to be dank, damp, stinky and just plain traumatic. You’d only go if you were really desparate and would otherwise hold on for dear life until you got home. And if you did have to go, you’d try not to touch anything, look at anything and you’d hold your breath until stars flashed in your eyes.
This last trip I made back to Malaysia, I was completely captivated by the public loos. It began at KL International Airport (”The Best Airport in the World” according to the banners that greet you as you get off the plane - and I’m inclined to agree). The ladies room there were clean, sleek, bright and shiny with auto-flush toilets, lots of loo roll, soap and paper towels. Then in the malls where I was speaking at a number of book events, the toilets were lovely and sweet-smelling, with bright, clean surfaces and shiny tiles. And practically everywhere I went after that, the public toilets just exuded luxury and glamour.
Someone told me that these delights didn’t just happen on their own and that the Minister of Tourism issued an edict to the nation to get their toilets in order for Visit Malaysia Year. Can that be true? Or is it just an urban myth? At any rate, in my view, if anything tells you that Malaysia is a nation that’s achieved world-class success, it’s the state of its public toilets.
I was so horrified and appalled when I arrived back in the UK. The ladies toilets at Heathrow were the first to greet me and they were tatty, dirty, badly stocked and unkempt. Everywhere I go now in London, I find myself comparing the toilets to the joys of the Malaysian loos.
Pic: thanks to techno-impressionist.com