Where do you go if you’re out and about in Hong Kong and nature calls?
That stronghold of all things most unnatural, McDonald’s, may well be the first place that springs to mind, but there is always the likelihood of queues, even after you’ve fought past the smell of frying fat and located the loos.
If you’re caught short on the move, you might struggle. While some MTR stations do have public toilets, the majority do not – or, if they do, they don’t advertise the fact. MTR employees can always point you in the direction of toilets in nearby shopping malls – let’s face it, we’re never far from one of those in this city – but they’re rarely easy to find, and battling through shoppers moving at glacial pace is not ideal when your need is at its most urgent.
The MTR operator says there will be public toilets within or next to all stations on future lines and extensions.
But the reasons it gives for the absence of facilities at existing stations – including the close proximity of high-voltage equipment and the poor capacity of sewage systems – don’t really wash.
In fact, all MTR stations have staff toilets which passengers can – in theory – avail themselves of in emergencies.
Good luck trying to communicate the gravity of your predicament through a wall of glass, though.
According to one website offering travel advice, any problems locating public toilets in Hong Kong are moot because “McDonald’s is everywhere and has clean toilets”. Surely, though, pointing visitors in the direction of a McPee is not the best way to showcase our fine city.
Of course, if you have kids in tow, there’s a whole other dimension of drama. For a start, you’ll probably be leaving McDonald’s having spent more than a penny on a Happy Meal.