I took the elevator up 423 metres to the 94th floor Observation Deck of the Shanghai World Financial Center, the city’s second-tallest skyscraper, where I found some loos with a superb view of the streets below. The picture from this pissoir was certainly a sight to behold.
Of course I continued up to the 97th and 100th floor observatories which both delivered phenomenal views but as a hunter of spectacular toilets, nothing could compare to the window above those urinals.
Watch Toilography’s video from the Qianyue building
Before I left for Taiwan I had a great recommendation via Reddit to visit the abandoned Qianyue building (千越大樓) in downtown Taichung. Initially I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it there because it was 150km away from where I was staying in Tainan, but I knew I had to visit after scrolling through the incredible photos taken by Alexander Synaptic of Synapticism. I learnt it was a multi-level residential/commercial building constructed in the 70’s and heavily used in the two following decades, before a fire on the 7th floor led to its eventual abandonment. I’m fascinated by abandoned places and had my fingers crossed that there would be some old disused toilets among the ruins.
And so it was that my friend Vanessa and I hopped on a train to Taichung for a daytrip. It was only a short walk from the train station and I was surprised at how easily accessible the building was despite the level of disrepair it’s in today. Admittedly we were a little creeped out by the dark, dingy stairwells and decrepit, unusable rooms that branched out at every floor:
Eventually we made our way to the open, slightly less-sketchy rooftop, where along with a handful of other curious tourists & locals alike, we marvelled at the beautiful views of the city below and the once-grandiose UFO Tower:
I walked into the lower floor of the tower which mostly likely once housed a bar or kitchen – and just off to the right was the pièce de résistance: the rooftop bathroom. The toilet was barely recognisable thanks to years of wear & tear but its badly broken base was still bolted in I couldn’t help but imagine how view from this loo would have looked back it its heyday. Surely this was once Taichung’s ultimate restroom?
I explored the UFO Tower a little more (almost falling through a giant hole in the floor at the top of the staircase!) when I realised that just around the corner from the loo with the view, behind a rather menacing portrait of a Storm Trooper and friends, was a whole other family of abandoned thrones. It was pitch black inside this restroom but my camera flash brought to light some intact toilets which have stood the test of time. I certainly hoped they weren’t still in use. I can’t imagine the plumbing up here was in top shape, and I wasn’t game to try it out.
We stayed at the rooftop taking in the ambience for over an hour before we slowly made our way downstairs again. Lo and behold, about three floors below, adjacent to a weedy garden on a second, smaller rooftop, we stumbled across yet another lonely loo. He was missing his cistern and seat but the bowl was thankfully still in satisfactory condition:
And so concluded our incredible self-guided tour of the Qianyue building. In all my years of travel, I’d go as far as to put this building in my top 10 places I’ve ever seen. It may not be for everyone, but there’s something incredibly evocative about exploring abandoned sites like this. I can’t help but wonder how this building would have appeared 20 years ago at the peak of its commercial use and I’m equally fascinated at how its current state highlights underground culture so well.
Here are a few more non-toilet pics I took of this Taichung establishment:
Hey so my brother sent me this pic of a random toilet he found in a tree in an outback Queensland ghost town 😂🌲🚽
And as a bonus, here’s a loo in an abandoned house he found in the same town:
Here’s a different one! So my brother works for the railways in western Queensland and for my birthday he took this pic of a ‘train line shitta’ 😄 Best birthday photo ever, thanks bro! 🚽🚂💨
Victory Square in Vancouver wins two prizes: 1. for being the sketchiest underground restroom in probably all of Canada, and 2. for being the only toilet block I’ve ever seen with an office
A little north-west of downtown Dallas lies Bowlounge, where people go for bowling, beer, great food and good times.
You’re caught a little off-guard, however, when you enter mens room and realise you can see perfectly clearly into the bar whilst at the urinal. It’s only one-way, thankfully, so nobody on the outside can see in. Talk about stage fright.
The men’s room at Bleacher Bar has a unique view of Fenway Park through a one-way mirror. It’s the closest I’ll probably ever get to the Red Sox.
* Correction – I’ve since learnt it’s not a one-way mirror – it’s simply a window (which makes it even more awesome!) Thanks to kgcohen45 for pointing that out.
Before I left on my trip to Boston I received a recommendation from a kind Redditor to visit Life Alive, a cafe in the unassuming city of Lowell, MA, famed for its vegan fare, soul-nurturing atmosphere, and a very well-tended zen garden bathroom.
It was definitely worth the hour long journey north of Boston to witness for myself what may well be the most peaceful amenity in the whole of north America, not to mention the delicious Goddess Bowl and Loco Coco smoothie that I dined on.
If this doesn’t put the ‘rest’ into restroom, I don’t know what does.
A very good point regarding recycled rolls:
I was quite surprised to find this book on the basin next to the loo, serendipitously open on the page of my birthday. August 15: Sometimes Ignorance Is Bliss.
Seriously, what an amazing bathroom. Kudos to all at Life Alive for creating such a pleasant atmosphere. If you’re ever in Massachusetts you should drop by – there are currently locations in Lowell, Cambridge and Salem (the Lowell branch is the one with the garden bathroom).
Here are a few final snaps of the gorgeous cafe itself:
A pretty decent view from the urinals at N Seoul Tower