Inconvenient (public) conveniences


There are downsides to being a journalist / travel writer.

Okay. I lied. It’s awesome.

Seriously. It’s pretty amazing all the time and even the ‘bad’ stuff can be ‘good’ because it’s all part of the experience.

Ying and Yang – great material to write about.

But there’s one thing that makes travelling challenging for me.


When they were handing out robust constitutions, I’m pretty sure I was at the back of the line. My delicate little Anglo-Saxon tummy flip-flops at the mere sight of a Jalapeno-laced burrito and shies away from chillis, curries and all the really yummy stuff you wanna try when you’re abroad.


I’ve had food poisoning more times than I’ve had hot dinners… or at least more times than I’ve had tepid, rubbery, plastic-wrapped airplane food.

Point in case:

  • Bangkok airport.
  • Midnight.
  • Standing in line about to pass through immigration.
  • About three people back in the line from having my passport stamped when that familiar gurgle begins ‘a-gurgling’ deep, deep down.
  • By the time I reached the surly immigration officer my face was grey and sweaty.
  • He was immediately suspicious on account that I looked … well suspicious, but I think the universe told him that now was not the time for a cavity search.

I collected my luggage and navigated customs unmolested, but it was too late; I was doubled over in agony, my face contorted in pain and shame at what lay beneath, threatening to erupt at any moment.


And that’s when I saw it: A SIGN. THE SIGN. A bathroom sign in the arrivals lounge. So I ran.

In anticipation of the relief I was soon about to enjoy, I began to unbutton my pants as I darted between the weary tourists and luggage carts … only to find the bathroom was in fact a prayer room. I actually squealed as I closed the door.

And then I did the only thing a grown man can do in that situation. I sat down on the marble tiles in the departure lounge of Changi Airport surrounded by thousands of people and cried. And cried. And sobbed.

But when I wiped away the tears I found next to the prayer room was the cleanest, loveliest, most excellent western-style bathroom I’d ever seen, with endless rows of pristine and vacant stalls.

I cannot begin to convey the sense of relief.

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