The Locked-In Traveler: Thai Restroom Experience


The Locked-In Traveler

(Kati’s Wheelchair Traveling Journals)

Thai Restroom Experience

(Click here for audio version)

Phuket town is often overlooked in favor of the beaches, but there is a lot to see and do in this old town full of heritage buildings. Phuket Town features an exciting mix of old and new, simple and sophisticated, peaceful and pulsating.

We stayed in a pleasant and small seafront hotel in a village called Karon beach. We spent most of the time enjoying the warmth of the sun by the pool or on the beach.

One day we decided to go to see the old part of the city where you can get a feeling of the real Phuket. The local people were amicable and kind. It felt sweet to be in such a picturesque place. On the other hand, it also felt sour walking the unpaved, uneven, and not wheelchair friendly streets. The insane traffic and amount of people did not make it any easier.

Get Kati’s autobiography; “Living Underwater

My senses were enjoying the beautiful buildings, the colors and crafts, the smells, and vibes. The shaking of the wheelchair was torturing the rest of my body.

I guess that because of all that shaking I suddenly got the need to pee, all though I had not drunk anything through the whole day.  It is then that I had my worst toilet experience ever.

Finding accessible restroom in the middle of old Phuket city was like an impossible task.

Our first try was a nearby mall. The toilet was big enough for the wheelchair to get in, but there was one problem. It was a traditional Thai toilet, with just a hole on the floor.

We asked around where we could find a restroom with an actual seat toilet. We were told that we should try a nearby hostel. Off we went running and after a good while, we found the place.

The hostel looked nice and big from the outside, which made us hopeful. We stepped in, and my heart dropped immediately. It was like straight out of a movie. Roaches were running along a long narrow dark hallway. The yellow electric lights without any covers were flickering on and off, sounds of a loud television, a man shouting and two women fighting and screaming.

Finally, at the end of the hallway, we reached the restroom. My assistant opened the door, and a strong stench hit us right in the face. A mixture smell of urine, feces, and vomit to drive anyone mad. It seemed like the restroom had not been cleaned for a decade or two.

I had to go so badly that I could not even consider trying to find another place. Therefore, in we went. First, we double covered the seat with toilet paper. Mom and my assistant did everything carefully but as fast as possible, so we could get out of there quickly. Once out the door, we went immediately to buy hand sanitizers.

That restroom visit was so traumatizing that I wish that I could forget it.


Get Kati’s autobiography; “Living Underwater

(Kati & Henning van der Hoeven)

Comments (1)

  1. Maya Silliman 07.03.2020 15:49

    Dear Kati,
    After reading this I am appalled that you had to go through this experience just to do nature’s relief. How brave you had to be! I am not wheelchair dependent and at 71, could I have even walked in there? No, I think not. This is just another example of how unprepared cities, states, countries that are not hospitable to those in wheelchairs. It’s odd to me that countries want tourism but are not equipped to receive all kinds of them.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I was upset on your behalf.
    I do hope Henning can use his magical powers to make you laugh someday at this, for laughter is the best medicine one can have in harsh times.
    God bless you on your travels in life and many many more.
    With sincere regards, Maya in Rainier, WA, USA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


View all


    tiny 30 IMG_7013 image20 IMG_0003