It’s a room we visit several times each day, but the humble bathroom (john, head, bog, loo, etc.) is rarely celebrated in its true glory. Cintas Facility Services, a leading provider of bathroom supplies, wants to change that with its America’s Best Restroom Award. Check out their website to see the nominees and vote for your favorite. A good bathroom is the traveler’s best friend, and should be appreciated.
But we here at Gadling are too well traveled to get all starry-eyed about the glories of the garderobe. We’ve dealt with squishy Asian squat, public lavatory putrescence, and outhouse odor. So let’s hear your votes for the world’s worst bathrooms. Here’s my nominee:
In 1996 I left the Iranian border town of Zahedan and entered Pakistan. My first stop was Taftan, a miserable hole if I ever saw one. The streets were nothing but sand. Trash blew between bare concrete houses. Moneychangers swarmed around me like flies. Flies swarmed around me like moneychangers. Then disaster struck–I had to go to the bathroom.
The public toilet next to the bus station was an area about ten feet to a side enclosed by a concrete wall. There was no roof. There was no door, only a blind turn before you entered a sandbox that looked just like the street except that it was covered in crap. The flies here were so thick that I put my bandanna over my nose and mouth so I didn’t inhale any. There was no escaping the smell. I picked my way through a minefield of human waste until I found a clear spot for both my feet. The flies were relentless, and I had to fan myself constantly so they didn’t get stuck to my business end.
Like everywhere in South Asia, foreigners get stared at in Pakistan, and they make no exception for foreigners squatting with their pants down. A small crowd of other squatters stared at me with undisguised curiosity as I did what I needed to do and fled as quick as I could.
I only stayed in Taftan an hour until I could catch a bus for Quetta, but I will always remember the bathroom there, and the fact that I got pick-pocketed. They only got about five dollars worth of Iranian rials, but it’s the thought that counts. The thought of some guy’s hand in my pocket. I hope, I pray, that it wasn’t one of the guys watching me in the bathroom.
Think you can beat that? Give it your best shot.