Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Singapore, I don't get your bathrooms

Bathrooms in Singapore confuse me. There are several reasons why this is, but I'm only listing a few here. It would take far too long to list all of the reasons.

My biggest issue is this: unisex bathrooms. Several bars and restaurants on this island have these and it never ceases to freak me the hell out. One bathroom for everyone.

I noticed this for the first time at a club in Clarke Quay. I walked into the bathroom and noticed a man urinating in one stall (with the door wide open) and a woman washing her hands at the adjacent sink. I thought I must have had way more to drink than I remembered. I even left the bathroom to check the sign to see just who was allowed to be in there and who wasn't. I saw a man picture and a woman picture, separated by a slash. Turns out, everyone is allowed.

Me no likey. Even after a few beverages.

It's not that I have an issue sharing a bathroom with a boy. I've done it my whole life. My issue is that I don't want to share a bathroom with every man in Singapore—especially if I need to scoop eyeliner goop out of my eye or have to pick a wedgie. That's secret girl behavior. I can't do that in front of a strange man.

Ok. Now that I've laid that out there, let's move on.

To continue the topic of confusing things about bathrooms in Singapore, I have a specific bathroom to analyze.

Yes. I took my camera in here. And I took pictures. And people saw me do it.

But it's ok cuz I kept saying "I'm sorry, I'm a tourist! I'm sorry, I'm a tourist!"

We all know I'm not, but they don't know that. And in my mind, it's ok to lie if it gets you out of looking like a crazy person.

Onward we go.

Ok, ignore the reflection of me taking the picture. It was unavoidable.

Do you see where the stalls are in this bathroom?

Well I didn't. I had to stand there like an idiot and wait until someone left one of the stalls to figure it out. To me, those looked like janitors' closets.

Now, do you see the sprayer thingy next to the toilet?
I've heard they use this in lieu of TP. I'm not quite sure how this is done without drenching your whole body. Then again, I'm not very graceful at much of anything.

So I get to the sink of this bathroom and lather up to wash my hands. I wave my hands under the faucet to turn on the auto sink. Nothing happens. I wave them under the other faucet. Nothing. So then I quietly step back, soapy hands and all, and wait. Again. Then a guy comes up to the sink and steps on this thing.
It magically turns on.

Then he notices me taking a picture. I loudly ramble "I'm sorry! I'm a tourist!"

Then the guy rolls his eyes, gives a chuckle and steps off the thing so I can take a photograph of the contraption.
He's a nice guy. I'm a psycho "tourist" who likes to take pictures of bathrooms.

Sadly, I'm ok with that.

Seriously though, I thought going to the bathroom was a second nature kind of thing. It's something that should require no thought, no confusion and no questions.

And yet, I'm so confused.


Kristen said...

I like the idea of stepping on something to turn the water on.... automatic sinks irritate me!

My Three Sons said...

Well it is very different. It's like a new history lesson everytime I read your blog. Hee Hee

Shelly said...

You crack me up girl!! I love reading your blog-always makes me smile!!

Anonymous said...

Geez...I am local, and I didn't even know they had this crap here! Guess I don't hang out at the bars often enough...:P
Kinda reminds me of amsterdam...maybe they got the idea there, and yes, its disturbing...

Ken said...

Oh yeah, another tip - be careful when you go to eat indian food such as prata, etc.

Apparently, I found out Indians DO NOT use TP AT ALL. Even after they take a dump. They prefer the hand-to-butt washing because it's supposed to be more "sanitary".

Dawn said...

Umm Megan, I'm a Singapore girl living in America right now - and I can tell you, this is NOT what most Singaporean bathrooms are like. Seriously I think it's more a club-y thing more than anything else.

Megan said...

Thanks for the input Dawn. Now that you say that, it has been mostly clubs that I notice this. (Except for the Mexican restaurant in Clarke Quay).

You know, since you're living in the States, I'd love to hear what things you're experiencing that you find odd or strange. I love hearing about American customs that freak out foreigners. I find it keeps me well-rounded. :)

Dawn said...

Haha - that's why finding your blog was so interesting, to see the flip side.

BTW - Clarke Quay doesn't really equate Singapore as you might have noticed. Not that it's not a nice area, but it's not necessarily very representative. Can you imagine a Singaporean 'aunty' sharing a bathroom with a man? I didn't think so :)

I used to live in Baltimore - and the crime there used to freak me out. What was more unusual though was that people were so blase about it - I realise this is something that may be more particular to B-more. Also, that city blocks can change so dramatically - one street being pretty safe, and the next, not so much! Other than that, city living is probably pretty similar all over the world. Living in the country though (as I now do) - that's a whole different thing!

Dawn said...

I thought of a couple of things (cultural shock) while surfing through your blog.

First, when I got here, I couldn't believe trash pick up - once a week? Seriously?

Second, cell phone plans - they're like SUPER expensive in the US compared to Singapore which surprised me.

Third, Returns. I love Returns. Also outlets.

Fourth, Hardware stores - you ain't seen Hardware stores till you've seen them here. Now we almost live in Home Depot.

Fifth, realising they sell guns in Walmart.

Sixth, for some reason, every cashier I've met can't make change. If I pull out a couple of pennies if say it cost $3.28, and I give them say $10.03 to get rid of those pesky pennies, I'm guaranteed a few minutes of confusion. I realise this may just be my luck.