Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gotta Go, Gotta Go, Gotta Go Right Now...

As promised, the long awaited China Toilet Chronicles. And to quote my friend, Beth: Everyone loves a good potty story; they're not just for 10-yr-old boys, ya know. Ahh, where to begin.....? First of all, if you are easily offended, change the channel now. Not because of language/sex/violence, but just the sheer GA-ROSSSSSS-ness of it all will make you run right in and hug your toilet. Mainly out of gratitude because you will never take that seat for granted ever again, and then there is that gag-reflex factor.

China isn't big on modern plumbing. I had heard this from a friend who'd witnessed it first-hand a few years ago and I'd read it in all the tourist books, but I still didn't quite believe it until I saw for myself. So here’s a typical public restroom. Fortunately hotels and airports have normal toilets, but anywhere else, like malls, restaurants, markets, tourist attractions, etc, have these.

Some are rated, like “3 star”, “4 star”, etc, which means they may have 10 holes and one normal toilet. Once in a while you'll get a directional sign like this in case there's any doubt as to what type you're about to experience.
When you walk in, one way is for women and the other way is for men, usually separated by a cloth. Privacy is not high on the priority list, as you can see.
Each stall looks like this. You have to bring your own toilet paper and after wiping you have to put it in the basket instead of down the hole because they don’t flush. And yes, people poo in them too!!! Also, the floor is usually so disgusting (covered with pee from bad aimers) that you can’t set down your purse or backpack or packages or anything you might be carrying, so you have to juggle it while squatting and aiming.
Besides the visuals here, I want you to TRY to imagine the STINK on a hot, humid, polluted summer day! Obviously I've been traumatized for life, but I did learn a few things about myself. 1) I have decent balancing skills, 2) I will never leave the house without some sort of tissue product, 3) I really have no need for 8 glasses of water each day.

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