"I just happened to glance at the night sky and I marvelled at the millions of stars glistening like pieces of quicksilver thrown carelessly onto black velvet. In awe I watched the waxen moon ride across the zenith of the heavens like an amber chariot towards the void of infinite space wherein the tethered bolts of Jupiter and Mars hang forever in their orbital majesty; and as I looked at all this, I thought, ‘I must put a roof on this lavatory’."
What’s this bit doing here? A bog standard report? I’m simply fascinated by toilets – a crucial aspect of every journey. I spend a substantial amount of time on each trip looking for them, anticipating them, planning for them and evaluating them.
The Best Toilets in the World
Some of the best are the ultra-comfortable ultra - high-tech heated bowls of Japan and Korea - though be careful when experimenting with the nozzles or you will get a shower as well. you can often adjust the temperature of the weirdly squishy toilet seat.
Or high end restaurants and hotels. The ladies room in the art deco styled Ivy in Brighton is so gorgeous and well equipped for pampering that women disappear in there for hours on end and distraught partners send the waiter to search for them, wondering if they have been abandoned.
And the best eating places in Moscow have some beautifully decorated chinaware. Especially for men.
The Worst Toilets in the World
What are the worst toilets in the world? The open pits of Asia where you can base an anthropological study of the heaped up contents. Or the gut-wrenching filthy open trenches in Chinese markets, where there is no privacy and children scramble to watch. there are some 'interesting' toilet blocks in Africa, on camp sites are on the edges of the desert highways.
One of my favourite toilets is this super patriotic block in the Kyle of Localsh, Scotland.
And there are some very pretty chemical toilets in cubicles.
Lisbon boasts what they claim are the sexiest toilets on earth. I'm unsure why....
In Ethiopia we were forbidden to use the long drop toilets at night - they were perched on the edge of a very beautiful - and tall - escarpment.
Peace and Tranquillity
You can't get much more peaceful than a stall in the middle of the Mongolian steppe.
Follow the Instructions
Follow any instructions, as long as you can understand them and even if they are a little bizarre. Do not stand on the toilet seat...
Otherwise do as the locals do and make your own arrangements. The side of the open road in the bush in Africa. ‘Women on the left side of the truck, men on the right’. My guide in East Timor called going to the toilet, 'Looking for a useful tree'. Excellent euphemism.
Bury what you leave behind, burn your toilet paper, keep an eye out for snakes and don't squat near any thorns.
If you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go….
Click here for a montage of toilet pictures.