Where are the highest toilets in the world? How do architects and engineers design toilets for very high places? The questions might seem silly, but designing a loo is not a lowly art.
We've surveyed About Guides from around the world to compile this countdown of high-altitude flushes: toilets in towers, toilets in skyscrapers, toilets on mountain tops, and soaring all the way to the highest toilets of all, toilets used by astronauts.
Have you ever encountered a bathroom that seemed really strange? Tell us!
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"There are toilets at the attractions atop the 1,200 foot high Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas," says Arthur Levine, About.com Guide to Theme Parks. We just hope the seats don't dangle upside down from the tower, like the notorious Insanity
Photo ©iStockPhoto.com/C-P Tan
The Taipei 101 Tower in Taiwan is one of the world's tallest buildings, but a lot of its height comes from the spire. If you've gotta go, you'll need to stop at the observation deck on the 89th floor. That's 1,253 feet (382.2 meters) high.
Photo ©iStockPhoto.com/Andy Hwang
Flush with pride, Prescott Carlson, Guide to Chicago Travel, claims that the world's highest toilet can be found at the Sears Tower Skydeck on the 103rd floor. The Skydeck is 1,353 feet (412 meters) high. But, even though the Sears Tower is one of the world's tallest buildings
, you can find even higher toilets... if you're willing to hike or fly. For the highest of the high, read on.
Climb 5,673 feet (1,729 meters) and you can choose between two earth-friendly toilets at the top of Mount Daisen in western Japan. Building these mile-high loos took shrewd engineering and nearly $600,000.
At Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe you can ride a "gondola" to an observation deck where the restrooms are more than 9,000 feet high. If you don't want to ride the gondola, be prepared for a rugged hike. "There are no stairs," warns Kayte Deioma, Guide to Los Angeles Travel.
"It all depends on how you define highest
," says John Fischer, Guide to Hawaii and South Pacific Travel. The Onizuka Center for International Astronomy at the Mauna Kea Summit on Hawaii is 9,200 feet high, and the summit is more than 13,000 feet high. Make a pit stop at the visitor gallery of the W.M. Keck Observatory and you can do your business 13,646 feet above sea level. But, wait! Mauna Kea is actually the tallest mountain on earth if judged from the bottom of the sea to the summit. So, if you measure from the very bottom, the toilet at the Visitor's Center is more than 30,000 feet high.
Also in Hawaii, there's a toilet at the Haleakala Visitor Center, which is 9,700 feet high. (That's measuring from the land, of course... not the bottom of the ocean.)
The gift shop at Summit House on Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado is 14,110 feet. "Nice clean restrooms, too," says Michele Hartley, who has learned a lot about tall mountains as the About Guide to Germany Travel.
Scale Europe's legendary Mont Blanc and you can find relief in toilets made by Ecosphère Technologies, a French company that specializes in dry toilets for extreme conditions. With an altitude of 15,190 feet (4,630 meters), they are the most elevated thrones in Europe, and the highest dry toilets in the world.
If you've ever taken a long air trip, chances are you've already used the world's highest WC. Most commercial jets fly between 30,000 and 45,000 feet above sea level. And if you're an astronaut? The sky's the limit. This NASA video explains how to go to the bathroom aboard a space shuttle.