So we are less than two weeks away from our 10 day trip to China. You would think we would be researching things to do and places to see right? Well yes we have done quite a bit of that, well Amy has done a lot of that. I however, have been searching something much more important. I have been researching Chinese bathrooms!
As an American, I admit that there are certain luxuries that I take for granted. A nice private bathroom is one of those luxuries. Now if you are one of our American followers, you may be asking yourself, “How is a bathroom a luxury?” In many other parts of the world a private bathroom with running water is a definite luxury. I have heard it said about America, “Yes, America, where you have so much clean water you shit in it.” That is a quote that really should make you think about the basic luxury of your bathroom. In America, according to a 2011 US Census, homes in the US average two bathrooms per house. That is not even considering what we would call a luxurious bathroom.
To be honest the thing I like most about my bathroom is the privacy. A
door that I can close and go about my business. Hey, lets face it, we are humans and it is a part of life, but I do not have to share it with everybody right? There are things that are just better kept private. Imagine my horror when I see pictures of four holes in the ground with nothing separating them but your imagination! I cannot even use a stall that has the doors removed! Just the sight gives me shivers.
Since we are going to China and expect to begin our Vagabonding travels in Southeast Asia, I have to face the elephant in the room. Squatty Potties. Yup, it is a fact that western style toilets and bathrooms are just that, Western! While there are western style bathrooms in most hotels and homes built in the last 10 years, the squatty potty is the norm. Even in
McDonalds, Starbucks, and KFCs, squatty potties are the norm. Oh, and toilet paper? Better bring your own because it is usually not supplied.
So here is my re-occurring nightmare for the last two weeks. Out walking around and the local cuisine hits and I have to find a bathroom. Yikes! I wake up in a cold sweat thinking about it. So knowing that it is coming I have prepared with the following tips.
Learn the word for toilet: 洗手间 Xi Shou Jian (pronounced SheSHOWgen)
Carry your own toilet paper (or sacrifice and article of clothing)
Put toilet paper into trash not the toilet. (DO NOT LOOK IN THE WASTE BASKET!)
Squatting: Practice practice practice. There is usually nothing to hold on to and lets be honest here, you want to touch as little as possible in a public bathroom.
If you absolutely need a western toilet you better be close to a large chain hotel or maybe a museum. The Handicapped stall is going to be your best bet.
Lastly, I better learn how to suck it up buttercup. The reality is that at some point I will be squatting next to a perfect stranger. So, I am trying to figure out the etiquette for that. Do I say hello and talk sports? Do I just look ahead and imagine something way better? I am clueless and will just be winging it for sure. Maybe you have a suggestion? Leave it in the comments.
Now I need to do some squatting practice and figure out how to talk about the weather in Chinese!