The Toilet

Public toilets in Singapore always disappoint me – for a supposed developed nation, you’d expect its inhabitants to actually know how to use a toilet appropriately and leave it just as clean or cleaner than before for the next user. (the user after me tends to be quite lucky as the mild OCD in me ensures that I clean, even wash, the seat thoroughly before and after I use it.)

A solution that has been adopted in many shopping centres and all public libraries in Singapore is the automatic flush. Mental Floss summarizes all my complaints about the automatic flush system, from inconsiderate users to water wasting.

The dirty toilet suddenly made me think of the public toilets in China – squat toilets which also means no physical contact. Sometimes i think people in Singapore don’t have the hygiene level to enjoy toilet bowls and we should have more squat toilets around.

In other news, this was about the worst toilet I used on my latest trip to China –


A true outhouse where the ‘door’ is a piece of scrap coarse fabric, and the ‘toilet bowl’ consists of some wooden planks over a 2m deep hole in the soil filled with layers and layers of different coloured fecal material, with some toilet paper and various rubbish in the mix.

But the most memorable toilet ever was in a floating village in Cambodia. The planks opened up over the Tonle Sap river where I could see fish swimming…fish that I may have just had for lunch. Sigh.


two sunsets, a year apart

somehow, i notice the sun rise and set more when im out of singapore. is it because our daily hectic lives distract us from it, or because our view has been obstructed by all the skyscrapers?

above, on the outskirts of siem reap, the sun setting over a wasteland of grass, potholes and thatched huts, admired by us all after a long day trying to help but ultimately hindering the work of local carpenters building a classroom.


below, the sun setting over the pasig river at baseco, manila, after a day planting mangrove seedlings which we pray will survive the typhoons over the next two years at least.

three consecutive years now of overseas service learning missions, but i am as conflicted as ever about our role and purpose in those communities. more in another post. meanwhile, enjoy this hilarious comic regarding sunsets: