Monday, October 25, 2004

China, Part II

Well, after reminding myself of the sub-standard toilets here in corridor land in the previous post, I had a flashback to China and 'the squatter'...

In China, Western sit-down toilets, with a seat and flushable, are generally found only in hotels and a few restaurants (sometimes including American fast food places like McDonalds and KFC). Elsewhere, what you’ll find is a short ceramic trough embedded in the floor, usually stinking to high heaven. If you're in any doubt as to the whereabouts of the nearest squatter, just follow your nose.

Coming across one for the first time, especially when you are desperately tightening your buttock muscles, is a little shocking. With little time left, you have to carefully balance yourself over the hole while lowering your clothing. Be careful not to lower too much, otherwise your clothing will soak up some of the nameless liquid pooled on the floor (might be a good idea NEVER to go out in China wearing overalls or a leotard). And balance is crucial because most of the squatters seem to be very slippery; not advisable to squat after downing a few beers.

Aim and shoot. But most importantly, bring your own toilet paper. It will NOT be provided. DON’T put the tissue in the toilet. In most Chinese toilets you’ll find a little trash can, usually overflowing and usually adding to the aroma.

Most squatters also have a 'meet and greet' option. Most do not have a door or stall to separate users - Christ knows how they do it, but I saw two guys together, squatting away while having a chat about something or other.

The worst squatter? That must belong to the long distance trains. There seems to be a competition amongst passengers to see who can leave the most disgusting scene for the next user...

One question that springs to mind: How the hell does someone with a broken leg use the squatter?

Below is a shot of a squatter complex in the Tiger Leaping Gorge, SW China. The doors are left open invitingly...