THE FIRST TIME I SHAT in Singapore’s airport, I was awe-struck. It was clean. It was spacious. It smelled pleasantly floral. The experience was so wholly enrapturing that I literally did not want to leave, so I didn’t–not for at least 10 excessive minutes, leaving V. to wait outside, possibly confused and worried, while I jotted down the following notes:
I have pooed in Ben Gurion, peed in Beijing, brushed my teeth in Schiphol and thrown up in Incheon. (NB: The first thing I did in East Asia, actually, was step off the Korean Air craft, beeline for the bathroom and vomit. I blame the in-flight orange juice.) I can say, then, with what little authority I wield as a travel blogger, that the nicest airport may well be Changi International in Singapore, and its bathrooms are as pure a reflection of this as the reflection of myself in said bathroom’s pristine porcelain bowl.
First, let’s set the scene. Outside the bathroom there is a woman in a long black dress playing light jazz on a grand piano. (I can only assume happens all day long.) There, below the airport’s cactus garden and past some of the bountiful computer kiosks with free Internet (the best!), lies a sterling example of modern architecture: dark faux-wood panels lit gently from behind, stalls the size of comfortable closets and house plants for good feng shui.
Next, the amenities: Each stalls features that irreducible toilet-cleaning liquid you’re meant to rub around the seat with TP. I like that. Once you’re in comfortable sitting position–and when I say comfortable, I mean stretch-your-legs-out-as-far-as-you-can-you-six-foot-tall-man-esque comfortable–you may bend, squirm and flex without fear of the auto-flush surprising you with a mid-poo splash. I tested it with consistent back-and-forth rocking, as is sometimes my method, and nodded in appreciation as it stayed firm.
Now here’s where things get interesting. By the exit, leaning against the wall with arms crossed and mop in hand, stood Dong Yumin, the proclaimed guardian of this travel haven, whose job title is something unfortunately degrading like “bathroom cleaning guy #4”. As I passed, he seemed to be smiling at me.
Beyond I saw a touch-screen hanging on the wall. “How would you rate this washroom?” it asked. Never before have I been happier to comply with a survey: I raised my finger and tapped “Excellent”.
As a sort of postscript, I should mention that this whole event took place hours after flying out of Wattay International in Vientiane, Laos, which is a hilariously shitty airport for a nation’s capital, and wherein V. and I were swarmed by mosquitoes in the near-equatorial climate and shocked at the collection of sweaty passengers lined up out the airport doors waiting to drop off their baggage. So there is some probable element of relief that played into all of this “Greatest Airport Bathroom in the World” stuff, but, really, regardless of Laos, Singapore’s airport may very well be just that.