Sandy's Ramblings

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Of the Chinese toilet...

Hmmm. This is a topic I've been avoiding almost as much as I try to avoid Chinese toilets. But, as with the toilets themselves, it cannot be avoided forever.

Firstly, there is a big distinction in China between a toilet and a "western" toilet. A "western" toilet is quite simply a toilet as we know it - a ceramic seat-like thing with (when you're lucky) a seat and a flushing mechanism. The provision of toilet paper is almost entirely unheard of. When you find one of these toilets, you sit down and push with all your might because it is a luxury that is hard to pass up.

Chinese toilets come in a variety of flavours. The most common of the lot is a simple ceramic-lined hole in the floor which, oddly enough, has a flushing mechanism - it is not a long drop. Did you know the Chinese invented the flushing toilet? Hard to believe. Anyway, the ceramic hole is, in my opinion, backwards. You do your business on the ceramic ledge near the water pipe and then you flush. If you're lucky, most of the goodness actually flushes away but generally only 50% to 80% actually does, leaving a treat for the next customer. Also, since it is a hole in the floor, you need to squat over it. I cannot squat, I am simply not supple enough - but if you watch the Chinese people they are masters at this. They choose a squat position as a standard waiting pose while I prefer a chair. They squat with both feet firmly planted flat on the ground and so for them it is actually comfortable and they can sit like that for ages with no problem. I have about 20 seconds before my legs start giving way. Interestingly though, apparently it is better for you to crap in a squat position than seated on the throne.

Moving on. The next Chinese toilet reminds me of some old Roman toilets I saw a few years ago in some ruins in Turkey. It is basically a gutter running around the room at a slight incline. You pick your spot and go for it (no privacy here, no doors, just dividing walls). Naturally, the flushing mechanism here is not nearly strong enough (if at all existent) and so there are plenty of faeces for you to examine at your leisure (or take photos of, in my case, don't ask). These rooms generally don't smell so good.

My favourite toilet of all though is the one you find at stops along bus routes - the ones which are really more like long drops that are never cleaned.

I close with a photo.

Enjoy your lunch.


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