Post #26 – Let me throw this question out there, just for the exercise, although I know the answer already. What is the most useful and highly used facility for travelers? A bus, a train, a hotel, a restaurant, an airplane? … Nope. It is the public toilet. For obvious reasons. Let’s see how public toilets in Korea look like.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we equally need and use these facilities more often than we might like. And finding one is sometimes a royal pain in the proverbial … I recall my first visit to the city of San Francisco with my dear friend from the other side of the pond. We basically spent half a day walking through the city to all touristic areas, and some not so touristic, strategically timing our walk from one toilet to another. Why? Because it took hours to find one that was not guarded by police, inundated in dirt, out of order or paper, and so forth. No need to go into details.
We now both reside in Korea for the time being, and the access to public bathrooms is probably high on my list of good reasons why to come here to visit or linger. Along with lack of noise, punctuality, and no tipping, having access to public sanitary installations of the first quality is just lovely. Everywhere you go, anytime. You no longer have to wonder around in panic looking for a bathroom. If you don’t find one is truly your fault.
We also took a bus tour across the entire country west to east, for about 4 hours. The bus did not have toilets but the driver stopped sensibly at regular intervals at rest stops with full working facilities. Like he read my mind. These rest stops reminded me of the ones on the Turnpike in Florida, just larger, more colorful, and busier. So even going out of Seoul, good public toilets in Korea are readily available.
I do want to highlight though the mother of all public loos – one of the nicest public toilets in Korea. When you go to a five star hotel you expect a five-star bathroom, and most of the times you’ll find it. You just don’t expect to find a six-star bathroom in a shopping mall. Many of my PR clients in the past have been shopping malls. In fact I represented dozens of them from Bal Harbour Shops to The King of Prussia, but none had something like this. I am talking about the public restrooms at Lotte World Mall, in the fancy area where you can find the likes of Chanel and De Beers. It is almost tempting to go to the mall just to visit the bathroom. I am sure many of my female… and male friends would agree with me.
Photographing it was not easy, since it is not built for that purpose, but I hope the few images I gathered will do it justice. More about the mall coming next.