A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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A Theory of Civilization

Since leaving the United States in July, I have been working on a unified Theory of Civilization – and I have come to this:

A civilization can be measured by the access it offers to public toilets —  the quantity, quality and cost.

By that measure, New Zealand is the most enlightened civilization we have encountered yet.  Every town and attraction has clearly marked, clean, free public toilets.

Whenever nature called, we would begin looking for the ubiquitous blue signs directing us to public facilities.


In most places the toilets were rather ordinary.  However several towns we visited had exceptional offerings.

In Auckland and Queenstown, we found space-pod toilets with computerized doors.


In the town of Franz Josef, I snapped this picture of the EXCELoo.


But nothing compared to Lake Taupo’s SUPERLOO, with its showers, lockers and 24-hour loo attendant.


New Zealand set a very high, very civilized standard (far better than the U.S.!).  I can’t imagine Australia will put as much emphasis on public comfort.

In fact, there’s only one potential competitor I see on the horizon:  Japan.


1 Dawn { 12.17.08 at 3:26 am }

This is too funny!!! I was telling WS I was going to write a post about this and you beat me to it. The more you pay, the dirtier it is. The more you pay, the less of a pathetic square of TP you get. And if you go in, decide that it can wait ’til the hotel, you still have to pay. In my humble opinion, thus far, Japan rules with its toilets. Even its free public squatters are, dare I say, pleasant. On this trip one of the most valuable commodities you can have is TP, soap is a close second. And if you find both in a public bathroom, what a luxury!!

2 Alan { 12.17.08 at 3:18 pm }

Just wait till you get to Turkey!

3 Claudette (James Family of the North) { 12.17.08 at 4:57 pm }

I was looking at your trip itinerary for April. You are planning on going from best “Japan” to worst “India”.

On our trip, we had to rescue Luke a few times. At the Taj Mahal, there was no TP. Thank goodness, I always carried a roll in my daypack.

4 Simon (TheBowmansTravels.co.uk) { 12.18.08 at 3:50 am }

Oooh, I particularly remember the toilets in ‘2nd class sleeper’ on the Indian trains – truly an occasion to remember.

….and don’t forget the ‘door-less squat affairs’ in China with piles of sanitary products on the floor in the corner – Charlotte once had to use a hole in the floor next to a Donkey! – No further comment required on the state of that place;-)

That said – does it make a place and it’s people less ‘civilised’ if they less access to clean toilets facilities?


5 Craig { 12.18.08 at 6:12 am }

Perhaps “loos” are not so much a comment on people or place generally, just the “enlightment” of their governments… Civilization here is used broadly, and with tongue planted firmly in cheek.


6 Doug Spiro { 12.18.08 at 8:33 am }

Long live the SUPER LOO!

7 Will { 12.18.08 at 1:47 pm }

Ha…NZ public toilets….my girlfriend and I were in some small town on the south island….arrggghhh…..something to do with vikings. Anyhow the pod toilet had music that started when the door was shut. This was the first time we had ever encountered something like this and the memory sticks with us

8 brian from nodebtworldtravel.com { 12.18.08 at 5:14 pm }

If your theory holds, the US is in deep trouble. Toilets can be hit or miss. Tokyo was very cool. If you have a weak bladder, go to Tokyo.

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