Lou lou skip to my Loo

There are some people who collect shot glasses wherever they travel and some people who collect souvenirs such as spoons, or postcards, or magnets. I am no different from any of those people, only instead of bringing back your standard knick knack, I collect toilets. Or more specifically, I make sure to take a photograph of a toilet whenever I travel to someplace new.

It started out as a joke. Not to age myself too much, but I didn’t always have a digital camera (I certainly didn’t always have one embedded in my phone). Back in those dark ages, you had to take film to a drug store or photo shop and pay for it to be developed only to find out you had wasted at least three shots. So when we purchased our first digital camera it was as if we were suddenly able to print our own money (something I strongly recommend you not do). The luxury of such wastefulness went to our heads.

Lamont would jump out at random passerbys and shout, “you’re a star!” as he took five to ten rapid fire shots like some sort of inexperienced paparazzi with really, really bad intel (not everyone was quite as amused as we were.) Our hotel rooms were another victim. Each was treated like a potential cover story for Better Homes and Gardens or a featured episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (or Cribs for the younger crowd), except we were budget travels back then (and now) and quickly would run out of square footage to photograph. The toilet shot gradually transitioned from a series regular to a starring character.

North American Toilets

Mexico and Canada

Asian Toilet

Hong Kong and China

European Isles Toilets

United Kingdom and Northern Ireland

European Continental Toilets

Croatia and Italy

Australia

As we started collecting the shots, we noticed that each had its own subtle difference. The water spiraled down the drain in the opposite direction than I was used to in Australia. It was also the first toilet I had ever seen with a separate #1 and #2 flush button for water conservation. The porcelain hole in the ground stopped me in my tracks in China. Some were oval, others square and the operating mechanism differed in dozens of ways as well (I may have accidentally set off an alarm in Ireland thinking the cord hanging beside the tank meant that it was a pull to flush when in reality it was for a handicap assist – whoopsy!). The sheer amount of variation in the sanitation world is rather amazing when you actually start to pay attention to it.

At yet, no matter where we go or what shape or form the toilet takes, it usually still works just about the same (excepting of course the times we have stayed in a truly ‘budget’ location).

There are a number of places I still need to visit before I deem my collection complete. For example, visiting Africa and South America remain on my bucket list. I’d like to visit Antarctica too, although I suspect I will have to settle for a photograph of a cruise ship toilet as we pass through those icy waters. When I do, I will photoshop the name of the place onto the photo somewhere, then frame the image, and hang it among my favorites on my bathroom wall.

While it may not be the most polite conversation, the wall is definitely a conversation starter and one that I am glad to have whenever a new guest comes over. After all, the frames on the wall are a constant reminder that no matter how much we might differ, there is always at least one thing we all have in common.

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44 thoughts on “Lou lou skip to my Loo

    • HA! At one time I was considering making a book featuring my photographs. I might still. I have plenty more shots to choose from. As far as home decor goes, it is one of my favorite walls in the house.

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  1. You definitely still need a shot of a German Autobahn rest stop toilet – not one by a gas station, but one that’s just by a parking lot with no attendants around (filthy. hideous. awful. Some even of the hole-in-the-floor variety.), and an outhouse in a Western Canadian Provincial Park (some of them are tiny log cabins).

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  2. I was quite throne by this selection but am pleased you are so flushed with your success. Such a splendid collection. One of the major toilet bowl manufacturers in the UK is called Armitage Shanks which I’ve always thought read like toilet graffiti and makes you wonder what is is that the naughty Armitage is meant to have done.

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  3. They used to make American Standard toilets in Palmer MA, my birthplace! So I’d go into bathrooms all over the country and see Palmer MA on the toilets. However I resisted the urge to take pictures of them!

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  4. I love this post!! I agree with the other posters that say you should visit Japan. I haven’t really visited Japan myself (except the airport), but since toilets are such a part of everyday conversation I’ve been told they are a lot like Korean toilets….and yes, when you have toilets like that they really do come up in conversation.

    You could be in a “questionable” bar and expect the worst when going to the toilets and find a dingy looking stall, but it would be so clean. The toilet itself would have heated seats and all kinds of buttons that would spray you clean and then blow dry. Oh, it was wonderful. In the airport in Korea, there was a restroom there where you pushed a button and it would put a new toilet seat cover on the seat for you. I wish I had pictures of these to share with you.

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  5. Definitely thought I had replied to this. My bad.

    Right.

    1. Absolutely hilarious that you have these in your bathroom! Genius.
    2. I have a habit of judging a place by its toilets – restaurants, posh hotels I do like to inspect them I think it says a lot. Can’t say I have photographed many though!
    3. The most hideous toilets I have ever experienced were in the middle of no where in the himalayas. Wooden hole and a long drop into a delightful pit. Which when the iodine water and unfresh food gets to your belly, squatting for that duration is not fun!

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    • I completely judge a place by its bathrooms. If you can’t prioritize the cleanliness of that room, I seriously have to wonder about your a) priorities and b) your ability to keep up general sanitation or food safety in other areas of your business.

      At least with the Himalayan-middle-of-nowhere toilet you kind of go into it with a lower expectation. Or at least, I would. It isn’t exactly a spot I would consider high traffic.

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  6. I was intrigued by this post, Allie. I was interested in the subtle variations, but also in how similar almost all the toilets were. I also enjoyed reading the comment thread about Japanese toilets. I can confirm that in places such as restaurants, hotels, airports and nice shopping malls they really do have versions that play background noises, have heated seats, built-in bidets, and so on. They’re not all like that, though. The traditional Japanese ones are glorified holes in the ground, fairly similar to the Chinese one in your photograph.

    Liked by 1 person

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