Toilet in Baotou, Inner Mongolia

If you’re travelling solo, toilet breaks have to be planned with military precision.

I learnt this the hard way.

One day, as I arrived in Shanghai, I had a stomachache.

But I thought I could hold it in till I reached the city, so I hopped on the subway.

Midway through the journey, I couldn’t bear it anymore, and I alighted and made my way to the nearest washroom – a wet, dirty and crowded toilet in the station.

Toilet with no doors, Mongolia

But when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, so I made my way to the nearest cubicle.

While it’s far from a pleasant experience, it wouldn’t be as bad if I had no luggage.

But, and that’s a big BUT, I had two bags – both of which weren’t waterproof.

And it was a squat toilet and there was no way I could hold on to both at the same time.

So I placed one on the wet, slimy, disgusting toilet floor.

Fancy toilet in Cafe Batavia, Jakarta (Yes, the mirror on the left is the urinal)

Yes, shudder away, but I had no choice.

Or rather, I had the choice – to use the toilet at the airport or take a cab to the city – but I didn’t opt for any of them.

So I came away from the toilet trying to hold my other bag away from me, and thinking it was a biological hazard to be disposed of at the earliest opportunity (I washed and kept it eventually).

But then again, while travelling, you’re bound to come across some shitty toilets – more so if you’re travelling in places like China and India than in most parts of Europe.

Public toilet, Paris

There was a time I was travelling in rural Inner Mongolia and ‘toilet’ was two planks over a hole in the ground.

If you peered into the hole, you could see a mound of “I don’t need to tell you what”.

And even in the capital Beijing, there are toilets with no doors and partitions and upon stepping in, you can see everyone doing their business.

So in some cases, I’d much prefer the great outdoors.

Find a nice spot to ‘do your business’ in the deserts of Rajasthan

In a sandy desert in India’s Rajasthan province, for instance, all we had to do was to find a nice, clean spot to let loose.

No dirty, wet, smelly toilets anywhere in sight.

And it was such a relief.

Share your comments below if you’ve encountered any shitty toilets.

You can ‘do your business’ anywhere in the highlands of Gansu Province, China