Thursday, June 23, 2011

Aim at the fly

Okay, I promise this will be the last of my toilet blogs!
(I know when I gotta go, I gotta go.)

I was at the new Terminal 3 at Changi Airport last week when I took a leak at the toilet near the Basement 3 Food Court.
Inside the mens' urinal, there is a fly near the drain hole. Not a real fly but one that imprinted onto the urinal!  The obvious thing a man will do is to pee at the fly.

This simple but brilliant brainwave was created back in 1999 by the staff at Amsterdam Schipol Airport who proved that the little fly improved cleanliness on the floor by 85%.

Now maybe the authorities will have to reword their infamous warning to Fine $500 for not flushing or Shooting the fly!

I was told that a similar problem arises in the ladies with some who 'hover' instead of sitting.
Wonder if anyone can come up with another brainwave for the ladies?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Crappy street food in Taiwan

In Taiwan, there’s only one thing that stands out for me and that’s their street food.
And when you talk street food, there’s only one place - Shihlin District in downtown Taipei.

On my last trip a few years back, I was brought to my favorite outdoor eating place, but my Taiwanese friends wanted to introduce something different. They brought me to a new concept theme restaurant located there called Modern Toilet.

Yes, you heard right. It’s a restaurant based on a crappy toilet theme.
The d├ęcor includes porcelain toilet bowls for seats, sinks for tables, showerheads, shower curtains and other sanitary devices that you normally classify as unmentionables.

Before you get visions of unhygienic or unsanitary or funny smells associated with street food, the theme restaurant is quite pleasant. Food is served on crockery that’s shaped like commodes, urinals and the serviettes are plain toilet rolls, of course.

The menu is divided into 2 sections called Go Poo Poo & Go Pee Pee for food and drinks, and the dessert is ice cream shaped like dog poo served in a squat toilet bowl. The food I remembered was pretty okay though some looked pretty stomach churning.

I didn’t take any photos at the time but I managed to find some and extracted them from the web. (copyright belong to the owners)

Modern Toilet Restaurant Taiwan

You don't need to pull down your pants to sit

Food is served in bowls shaped like 'bowls' of course.
Drinks in urinals. The poo shape is a cover for the soup bowl.

Ice cream in squat toilets! yummy.

Now, this really looks scary! Gives a whole new meaning to curry.

I hear that they are quite successful now and going regional with their franchise.
Besides Taiwan, they can now be found in Hong Kong, Thailand and even Japan.

Flushed with success and their idea didn't go down the drain, I guess.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Asian Toilets

I was browsing through my old travel photos and came across one I took at Narita Airport in Tokyo. This was of an Asian squat toilet at the modern Terminal 2.

For an occidental person, esp European or American, this must be a unique sight. 
Being used to having a seat, it must be extremely uncomfortable even at the thought of squatting to do your business.

And strangely, even if it's just a 'hole' in the ground, there are different manners of using a squat toilet!
The Japanese squat facing the back, i.e. towards the raised portion.
Whereas in other S.E.Asian countries, they face the front.

Not that this matter anyway and it doesn't make any difference to your bowel movement. 
It's just a matter of the country's toilet etiquette.
The Japanese toilet flush has 2 options, 'large' and 'small', referring to the amount of water needed to flush away urine or solid matter.

As an Asian, these squat toilets are very familiar to me but more often now, especially in Singapore, these kind of toilets have given way to the pedestal type.
In fact, in my home we only use the pedestal type and I've been living here for the past 26 years.
So even I hardly ever use a squat toilet anymore. If ever I had to use a public convenience, I would still choose a pedestal over the squat.
It's tough on the knees!

Strangely in Japan, while the public conveniences all have squat toilets, their homes and most of all hotels have the latest, modern and most high-tech type of pedestal toilets.

Compared to American or European type where it's simply a functional bowl, the Japanese pedestal toilet come fully equipped with seat warmers, auto flush, auto bidets, spray jets. The latest models even have deodorizers and music to mask body function noises.

By the way, if ever you are in Japan, please note that the public toilets do not provide toilet paper.
It's called a 'toi-re' or more politely if you are asking, ote-arai, meaning hand-washing room.

Here's one safety video you will pay attention to

The airline safety video usually begins the moment the aircraft is pushed back from the terminal.
Most airlines have a similar video or live demonstration of the safety procedures and features.

However, some passengers, usually frequent flyers, seem to take the instructions for granted and don't watch or listen to the instructions.

Here's how Air New Zealand came up with a video to ensure that passengers will want to watch.
Cute play on the words "Nothing to hide, bare essentials and take a second look"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

St Mary Singapore & St Mary Tokyo

No matter how hard you try to prevent it, there are times when your mind drifts instead of being focused on the event that's actually taking place at the moment.

It happened to me this morning while I was attending Mass at St Mary.
I put it down to certain factors for this happening.  

One was that the air conditioning wasn't working properly while the humidity was increasing with almost a thousand faithful in the congregation. 
The other was the less than inspired delivery of the homily by the priest. 
(mea culpa, no offense meant)

While Franciscan Friar Joe spoke of how the early apostles were inspired during Pentecost, my mind drifted towards the ceiling of the church. There the architect had designed a skylight in the form of a crucifix which lets sunlight into the church.

Skylight at St Mary of the Angels, Singapore

While looking at it, I was reminded of another church which has a similar concept. 
St Mary Cathedral in Tokyo is located at Ikebukuro, within walking distance from  the Sunshine City Prince Hotel where I usually stay during my visits to Tokyo.

Designed by the great Japanese architect Kenzo Tange, St Mary Cathedral is a beautiful edifice in a cruciform design whose walls soar up to a skylight that lets in natural light to illuminate the interior. 

When you enter the cathedral, your eyes are magnetised and drawn to look automatically from the stained glass panels behind the altar towards the skylight at the ceiling.
It never fails to happen with anyone when they first enter the building.
I am sure that this was purposely done by the architect for dramatic effect.

St Mary Cathedral, Ikebukuro, Tokyo

From idle musings about St Mary Cathedral, my mind further drifted to think of some other buildings that I remembered seeing in Tokyo that were all designed by Kenzo Tange.

These are all famous icons not only of Tokyo but of  Japan. 
Some of the great buildings designed by Kenzo Tange are:-

Fuji TV Building at Odaiba, Tokyo Bay.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Tokyo Olympic Stadium and Gymnasium at Yoyogi Park

The Cocoon Building at Shinjuku

Kenzo Tange also designed the UOB Bank building in Singapore.
Who's that statue at the front? Never mind him, he's just a white man.

Isn't it strange that how in just a minute or two, your mind can stray from the missal to illuminated crosses to cathedrals in Tokyo to Olympic buildings and banks and then back again?

What? Oh, "Let us pray"?

By the way, it might interest you to know that Kenzo Tange died in 2005 and is buried at St Mary Cathedral. It's really worth your while to see this place if you are ever in Tokyo. Better than the usual tourist traps and it's free.