Photos by MJ Klein
Don’t you just love the restrooms in Taiwan, with the saloon doors (if there are any doors at all), and the open windows? Welcome to the world of Taiwan’s Public View Restrooms!
But, this is far from the worst example of a restroom lacking in privacy. I’ll do my best to relate these experiences in a un-offensive way.[eminimall]
Once I went to a posh restaurant with a beautiful garden in the center area. The path to the restrooms, both male and female areas (in this case they were separated, more on that in a moment) split and went their separate ways and became 2 paths in this garden. “This is a nice way to hide the restrooms” I thought. But then I reached the end of the path and was greeted by a tiny corrugated shack surrounded by a short wall. The shack contained a squat toilet, but mounted on the wall was (you guessed it) a men’s urinal, right out in the open. Well, I stepped up to the urinal and proceeded to do what one does in front of a urinal when I happened to glance off to the side. There, not more than 3 meters away from where I was standing was the only water fountain in the entire place. Just as I was thinking how thankful I was that no one was using the water fountain, a mother and 2 small girls walked over and got a drink while I was pissing a few feet away. Maybe it’s a “foreigner thing” but that just seems wrong to me. The placement of the water fountain also appears to be pretty much optimized for viewing the urinal from the side, where one’s chances of seeing “something” would be the best. I was watching them drink while I was passing water. WTF were they thinking?
Many visitor’s first experience with Taiwanese Toilet Culture is a trip to the airport restroom, replete with cleaning women who will stand right next to you while you do your thing. I’ve had cleaning women stand outside the stall while I was inside there too, waiting to clean up as soon as I vacated the premises. About the only reasonable comment I can make is that having a cleaning woman standing outside one’s stall does make for an uncomfortable experience. At least those are professional cleaning people just going their jobs.
But, that’s nothing compared to having a female customer come into a mixed-gender restroom! The first time that ever happened to me was when I was at a restaurant in Chunghua. I was at the urinal when a woman barged in, rushed past me and into a stall behind me. I hadn’t noticed that the sign over the restroom had caricatures of both male and female heads. Yeah, we have restrooms like that in the US too, but men and women don’t use them at the same time. The women simply wouldn’t stand for it there. I’ve never heard a female in Taiwan complain about it though. Apparently some men do take liberties with women passing by them in the restroom. I just looked away when she went past me.
Perhaps one of the most embarassing restrooms I have ever seen is in Taoyuan City. There is a restaurant with a modern section in the front (booth tables and bench seats) and a traditional sit-down table section at the rear. The restroom is in the rear of the restaurant, right dead center of the long aisle that runs down the length of the place. A person standing on the street in front of this restaurant can see the door to the restaurant quite clearly as it’s just a straight shot back. But, the bad news is, there is a huge gap between the bottom edge of the door, and the floor. So, if one were positioned low enough, say, seated at a traditional table or standing out at the street where the viewing angle is lower, one could actually see the posterior of the person inside, while using the facility and with all the accompanying visuals you can conjure up for yourself. Disgusting, and worse, totally unnecessary!
Oh wait, I remember another one in Taoyuan City that is even worse that that one! I walked into a restaurant restroom and casually noted the eye-level mirrors that went along the entire wall. As I stood at the urinal I was momentarily puzzled by the fact that I wasn’t looking at my own reflection. A second later I realized that I was actually looking through clear glass, and into the restaurant from where I had just come. Just then, a woman seated at a table near to mine looked up and we made eye contact. The only way that I know how to express my feelings on this one is to just come out and say it. Holding my penis while making eye contact with a woman to whom I am not married just seems so wrong…..
These are some typical everyday situations:
- Many highway restrooms have no doors, with a clear shot inside as you drive up in your car to park.
- Gas stations and factories often have urinals placed on the rear walls, right in the open, with no modesty panels at all.
- Restrooms are positioned so that women must pass by an open men’s restroom in order to get to theirs.
- Some restrooms have 1/2 height walls or open windows so you can see rows of men lined up. You can’t see what they are doing but you can see their faces while they are doing it.
- Wash basins and mirrors are most often placed outside of the restroom, so there is absolutely no privacy whatsoever if you feel like freshening up or touching up your makeup, ladies.
So, please tell us what you think!