Sunday, December 5, 2010

Squatty Potties

What does a normal Chinese bathroom experience entail?
  • Sitting? No.
  • Squatting? Yes.
  • Closing the door? Sometimes. (In some public restrooms there are no stalls, just dividers. Even if there are stalls, not everyone closes them.)
  • Bringing your own TP? Yes.
  • Flushing your own TP? No. Toss it in the overflowing wastebasket.
  • Bringing your own soap? Yes.
  • Watching where you step? Yes.
  • Enjoying sparkling clean surfaces and fragrant aromas? No.
I think bathrooms are one area in which most foreigners don't succumb to the standard of "normal" here. We like our bathrooms clean and well-stocked, and we want to be able to sit for a minute or two in privacy, doggone it! Many foreigners have a few "sweet spots" in hotels or Western restaurants around town where they can pop in for a visit to a clean, Western-style toilet. (Qufu, of course, is not over-burdened with fancy hotels or Western restaurants.) My personal tactic is just to wait until I get home.

Let me introduce you to the restroom just down the hall from my office in the English department:

Here we have our standard squatty and waste basket accompaniment. Be glad I didn't take a shot of the clogged one in the next stall. Ew.

And finally, the sink. Don't be fooled by the soap dish -- the foreign teachers put that there. You can also see the tub for the mop. There's always someone mopping, but I'm not sure it accomplishes much.

Actually, "mopping" could be a post all on its own. China is big on mopping. And that concludes the first edition of Is this normal? (Yes). Stay tuned for more culture tidbits.


  1. Alison after five years of visiting Asian countries I am finally squatting in the right direction...don't ask! However, I, like you, usually wait until I return home. I entered a toilet a couple of weeks ago and walked straight back out and felt like snatching my 5 baht back off the bathroom attendent...bletch!

    Squatting, while pulling your trouser legs up, your pants down, holding a handbag and trying not to let your glasses fall in, is a true art.

  2. PS. my Chinese friend said she was terrified the first time her Mum put her on a Western toilet...scared she was going to fall in and would never get out.