Chinese Toilet Extremes


Squat toilet

It seems there are two different types of toilets in China. I eventually got used to the squat toilets which I encountered nearly everywhere outside of my hotel. Again, my pre-reading served me well; I knew I needed to take my own toilet paper with me.

But then, I finally went into the office (since I was here on business, after all), and lo and behold, I found deluxe toilet accommodations! The seats were heated and there were all kinds of extra buttons to push. I read ‘massage’ and ‘bidet’ and ‘shower pressure’; the rest was in Chinese. I was so tempted to push ‘massage,’ as gross as it actually seemed in a public toilet. I stopped myself. I was afraid of what might happen if I did. Instead I took pictures while everyone else in the Ladies’ room watched my camera flash going off in my stall. I think I’d embarrassed myself enough by pushing the button on my camera. I didn’t want to risk further embarrassment by pushing the ‘massage’ button on the toilet.

It’s blurry, but hopefully you can read some of the buttons.


6 responses to “Chinese Toilet Extremes

  1. I definitely do not miss the squats. I stayed at a monastery in China and the electricity was out so I had a flashlight in my mouth and toilet paper in one hand trying not too fall into the hole. Oh…and using a squat on a moving train with no handles was also not ideal…to add to that they had no trashbins in the bathroom so their was a pile of trash in one corner including USED maxi pads. *barfs* Let’s not talk about the pee troughs!

    When I got to hong kong I almost wanted to hug the toilet! The only high tech one I saw was at the Financial Tower in Shanghai. FYI…glad to have found your site!

    • Wow. You’ve got some stories to tell! I don’t think I could use a squat toilet on a moving train. I think I’m getting a little quaesy just thinking about the potential mess that creates. Yikes!

      Thanks for sharing your tales. It’s these little things we never think about that make travel so adventurous, isn’t it?

  2. After staying in China for a year, I feel like I’ve seen the whole run of squatting experiences. There’s too many horrible sights and stories to talk about now, so I’ll just share the funniest one (for everyone except me).

    Many of us who have traveled to east Asia know the strange, elevated status that comes from having a white face. In China this status is especially true. Outside of Beijing and Shanghai the reaction seems to be: oh my god, there’s a white guy doing (whatever mundane activity he might be doing), followed by a nice, long, discomforting and ceaseless stare.

    Squaters certainly are the toilet norm in China. I found that as I got closer to Beijing though, it was more common for the squatters to be out in the open, without any walls whatsoever.

    One afternoon I was doing my business in one of these nice open-floor plan arrangements. I’d finally become ok with doing it around a bunch of people when a young Chinese kid walked in and started having a nice long stare at me. I told him I was busy but he just kept on staring. Finally I realized he was less impressed by that’s a guy taking a crap than that’s a WHITE guy taking a crap. In the end I went into a laughing fit and walked out of there in good cheer.

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