My first backpacker moment

AKA The time I had to shower in a squat toilet cubicle.

I’m more of a flashpacker: someone who’s willing to pay just that little more for comfort and cleanliness while travelling.

I did try backpacking (staying in a multi-person dorm room) once in Shanghai. I found out that I cannot sleep with someone snoring in the room. Since then, I opt for private rooms in hostels.

So, being the flashpacker that I am, how did I end up in a squat toilet cubicle, rinsing my hair with a hose that was meant to clean someone’s bum?

It’s a short story but I’ll make it longer.

The beginning


It was the last day of my trip in KL where I played tourist and ate like a glutton.

As my train would only leave at 11.55pm, I thought I had plenty of time to spare at the station for a nice long shower. I read somewhere that KL Sentral has shower facilities.

It was past 10 when I collected my backpack from the hotel, said goodbye to N and her boyfriend and reached the station.

I walked up to an employee and asked where the shower facilities were. He looked me up and down–which was very uncomfortable–before he pointed to the other end. Then he said: “But it’s closed.”

What? Closed? When there are still trains leaving at 11pm?

It turns out to be true. What’s worse is that it was closed at 9pm.

Do not panic


I decided to not panic and use the toilet first.

OK, I did panic. I was feeling sweaty and grimy. I’ll be sleeping on a train for 6 hours and I dislike sleeping all sticky. Plus, I need to be presentable at work tomorrow morning.

When I locked myself in the cubicle, I saw the hose. Yes, the hose which is the curiosity of foreigners.

At first, I didn’t really think that I would actually take up the hose and rinse myself.

But somehow, my body started preparing myself for it. I was peeling off my dress, stuffing them in a plastic bag while my brain was telling myself: NO NO NO NO NO.

Next thing I knew, I was rinsing my hair. The water felt good. I felt very guilty.

The shower was quick. A short shampoo, a rub of not too bubbly soap, another quick rinse.

When I finally exited the toilet, I felt squeaky clean. My small towel could not dry my hair too much so trails of water dripped down the back of my neck.

Lessons learned


The whole event was funny even while I was washing my hair. It seems so strange. I decided to brand it as my first real backpacker moment.

Here are a couple of things I’ve learned from this:

  • Check timing of everything
  • Bring only a backpack when travelling
  • Plastic bags are your friend
  • No shame in washing in the toilet
  • You can survive anything, except armageddon

My other Malaysian adventures:

More about Liau Yun Qing

Yun Qing is a writer, improviser and curious person. She loves finding little adventures in life. In 2013, she went on a 130-day round-the-world trip. She wrote a book to help those who also want to go on a career break.

5 Comments

    1. Hahaha hiliarious. Just found your blog while researching on train travel in malaysia. Definitely will be following your blog a lot more!

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