Passport

After Thai Princess Doesn’t Use It, $40,000 Toilet Is Flown Back to Bangkok

Thailand spent $40,000 building a toilet in Cambodia for their princess's visit. She didn't even go inside.

Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (R) and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (C) walk past honor guards upon her arrival at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on February 22, 2016. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is on a three day visit to Cambodia. AFP PHOTO / TANG CHHIN SOTHY / AFP / TANG CHHIN SOTHY        (Photo credit should read TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)
Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (R) and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (C) walk past honor guards upon her arrival at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on February 22, 2016. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is on a three day visit to Cambodia. AFP PHOTO / TANG CHHIN SOTHY / AFP / TANG CHHIN SOTHY (Photo credit should read TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)

Ahead of a three-day trip to Cambodia this week, Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn worried about needing to use a bathroom during her visit to rural Yeak Lom Lake — and the difficulties she might face finding one nearby.

So Thai officials spent $40,000 and 19 days constructing a state-of-the-art outhouse for her in a country where 60 percent of the rural population doesn’t have toilets.

She repaid them by not even entering the air-conditioned building.

“She did not go inside the bathroom, she just looked at it from outside and took some pictures,” community leader Ven Churk told Agence France-Presse, adding that he has “never seen such a bathroom.”

Details about the interior decorations of the eight-square-meter facility, which was built with entirely Thai materials, were not readily available.

Sirindhorn was at the lake in Cambodia’s southeast Ratanakkiri province for only two hours, and attended a ribbon-cutting for a new health center while she was there.

According to Cambodian news outlets, the outhouse building was donated to the Cambodian community to be used as a visitor’s center. The one catch?

The modern toilet was taken away as soon as the princess flew back to Phnom Penh.

According to provincial governor Nhem Sam Oeun, the bathroom was too nice to leave in such a rural area.

“It can’t be kept because it is for royals,” he told AFP.

Photo Credit: TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

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