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.

Lotte World Mall in Jamsil - Escalator
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil – Escalator to the most upscale shops selling haute couture fashion, and the world’s most exclusive brands of watches, accessories and fine diamond jewelry
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil - Public area display for weddings services
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil – Public area display for weddings services
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil - Entrance from Subway area
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil – Entrance from Subway area. This place is used for “Events” what means … special social and cultural events but also seasonal sales for certain brands, or special product presentations, from Valentino to the upcoming Olympics in Pyongchang
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil - Chanel
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil – Chanel
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil - Bathroom Facilities
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil – Bathroom Facilities. You can’t expect all bathrooms in Korea to look like this, but you will have plenty of choices.
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil - Bathroom Facilities
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil – Bathroom Facilities – everything is controlled via sensory chips that give you a hands free experience … give or take lol
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil - Bathroom Facilities
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil – Bathroom Facilities – marble and gold fixtures, mood lighting… what else can a lady need in that moment? I assume the gents lavatory is equally posh, since most Korean men are very metro-sexual …
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil - Bathroom Facilities
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil – Bathroom Facilities. Don’t worry if you don’t understand the language. There is a traditional flush button as well. One day I hope to be able to use the options on those ‘extras’ … I’ll never get out of the bathroom!
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil - Bathroom Facilities
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil – Bathroom Facilities. I assume one of the options is to call for help, or maybe to regulate the temperature, or listen to music? Am I right? … not… but you are totally safe. The door has a very simple and efficient latch mechanism.
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil - Bathroom Facilities
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil – Bathroom Facilities. Each stall has its own lavatory. And there are no lines to these bathrooms. I assume Koreans no longer find them ‘out of common’ in a shopping mall like I do.
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil - Bathroom Facilities
Lotte World Mall in Jamsil – Bathroom Facilities. Ah, yes they have plenty of mirrors for the occasional selfie.

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.

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“A long and sinuous Silk Road unites all our cultures, a road full of colors, hardships, and hopes. If given the chance to travel this road over and over again, overlapping images would melt into a warm human fabric, full of labor, sweat and dreams. This fabric inspires my work. Its resilience is my hope for a common road into a harmonious future.” Ellie Perla

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