Existing Member?

the overlander

The Chinese Toilet

CHINA | Thursday, 20 December 2007 | Views [439]

The Chinese toilet is a thing of wonder; not in a good way you
understand but in a 'I wonder how on earth I can be so desperate as to
consider using this' way. Many consist of a hole in the ground with two
planks either side and only enjoy the cleansing effects of running
water when it rains sufficiently hard to start the roof leaking again.
The smell is often so horrendous that it necessitates the use of a
strong cigarette regardless of whether or not you actually smoke. You
get the picture.

So, having spent a very enjoyable yet tiring morning perusing the famed
Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an, we decided it was time to adjourn for a
bite to eat. Choices were somewhat limited outside of the lavishly
expensive buffet within the warrior park but we managed to locate a modest eatery a little further down the road from where we might catch a bus back to town. Sadly the fried rice was as disappointing as i had feared from the flies swarming around our table before we'd even sat down.

After a number of internal rumblings I quickly realised I was going to need to visit a water closet before attempting the confined two hour ride back to the city.

As I picked my way through an alleyway outside the back of the
restaurant in the general direction the waitress had pointed, I became
acutely aware that this was not going to be a happy experience. Still,
my lower intestine was becoming quite insistent, my step quickening accordingly. Old men in their underwear were standing around
cleaning bits of utterly useless scrap metal (as they are want to do
here) and staring at me as I splashed on through the puddles of
stagnant water. I should of known that their vacant stares were trying
to tell me something. Taking a deep breath, I headed for a tapless
stained sink I could see propped up on a wall at the far end of the

On arrival I noticed a torn curtain half hanging over a hole to my
right with a faded sign sporting a distinguised gent in top hat and
tails hanging lopsidedly over the door. Now, you should understand that I wasnt exactly expecting a warm towel, shoulder massage and a range of current eau de toilettes, but what awaited me was far worse than I'd considered possible.
Behind the raggy drape were two squat toilets, neither connected to
running water and without a partition in between. Both were filled with
several piles of excrement and one was overflowing a particularly
malodorous brown liquid into large pools around the both of them. The
air was filled with flies and mosquitos and the smell was quite frankly
beyond description for a writer with far more talent than I.

It was the last stage on the scale before you make a conscious decision
to revert to using your underwear again. Had I not had my boots on and
been wearing flip flops it would have been off the said scale. My mind
wandered to whether a course of cholera prophylaxis had been on offer
at my visit to the GPs clinic, and indeed if it had, whether I had
bothered to get involved. I feared I hadnt.

A dangerous urgency necessitated that I take the plunge. As I rounded
the cloth, lowered my shorts and crouched into what i sincerely hoped
would be my most efficient visit to the toilet in some time, I realised
that my sojourn to the gentlemens room had not gone unnoticed. As I
tried desperately to maintain my balance and concentrate on not
becomming the victim of what would surely have been a fatal toppling
over, a spritely young fellow popped his head around the curtain and
gave me friendly smile. Before I had time to even register this gross,
mid flow invasion of my privacy he had introduced himself around the
curtain and was brandishing a bucket of water at me.

Before i could even think 'please dont try and flush it' he hurled the
contents at the other toilet, sending a wave of its unsightly contents
surging around the rest of the room. Somehow it missed me on both laps
but I was certainly keen to get out out of there before he tried it
No sooner had he disappeared than he was back again though, this time
immediately dropping his trousers and adopting a well practiced crouch
position just 18inches to the side of me. As he looked over to meet my
astonished gaze, he gave me a little nod - perhaps in much the same way
one might acknowledge a familiar fellow commuter with a tip of the cap
at the morning bus stop - before rapidly proceeding to replace what his
bucket had just removed to the far corner. Dazed by what was turning
out to be one of my most unusual experiences to date and the fact that
I had just defecated in the immediate personal space of another human
being, I suddenly realised that I was done and proceeded to get out as
quickly as i could without slipping over- although of course not
before returning the nod.

In short, if you value anything resembling privacy, or have even minor
issues involving the cleanliness of bathroom facilities, i recommend
that you invest your ticket to beijing in a lazyboy next summer and settle yourself down in front of the telly. You're considerably less likely to have any complete strangers turn up and hurl raw sewage at you.

Tags: I should have known better!


Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.

About richardfrancis

Follow Me

Where I've been

My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about China

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.