, , ,

I’ve been so busy settling in here, I’m sorry I’ve neglected my blog. I have been adding to my list of observations to share with you. Today’s choice is one of a practical nature.  Since moving to China, I often tell my children that things here are “different – not worse, not better – just different”. One of those things is toileting. (Not sure if that’s a real word, but I’m using it.)

In our newly constructed home, we have a Japanese-style toilet, also called a washlet. 72% of Japanese households have Japanese bidet-style toilets. What are those, you might ask?  Well, they are very efficient in cleaning you up. (Sorry, Charmin, but it’s true.)  They can: wash, dry and warm up your bottom with the touch of a button. There are different levels of water pressure and different temperatures. There is also a safety feature, so if you hop off the commode unexpectedly, the water won’t shoot up and hit the ceiling. (However, due to the water pressure on your bottom, you MAY just jump off the seat unexpectedly!)  I’m not sure why ours is in a glass room, but it is.


The washlet is not the traditional facility used in China. That would be the squat toilet, aka the “squattie”. This one is quite nice:


Not sure how to use one? Here you go:


Westerners are generally confused by this type of toilet.  I decided to learn a bit more about this type of toilet vs. the one we are used to.  What I learned is that the squat toilet is much better for you, as a human being. It’s true.  If you’re looking for some more information, read this:   http://www.naturesplatform.com/health_benefits.html.  Apparently, the seated position can (allegedly) cause a host of medical conditions such as hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, appendicitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.  Check it out if you’re interested. Squatties are tough for people with knee problems, but I suppose that if you’ve used one from childhood, you’d have developed the right muscles? Oh, and don’t forget to bring your own TP.

Our toilet is very modern and cutting edge. However, most areas of Shanghai are not quite as modern. Most homes in China’s urban neighborhoods are shared by multiple families and have no bathroom facilities. Some streets (called lanes) share public toilets, which are free and maintained by the government.  For overnight use, there are chamber pots, which are cleaned in the morning at the free toilet facility:


There are no laws against public “toileting” in China, which is infuriating to me. I can handle the toddler’s split pants:


(Although I find photos of Chinese babies with their little bottoms poking out of their split pants completely adorable – I refrained from posting any!)

Or even the little boys peeing indiscriminately into fountains, onto trees or into gutters. Again,  no photos. I do have standards!

However, I cannot understand how grown men, in a very clean neighborhood, can just pee against the outside wall of a compound, essentially on the sidewalk, while smoking a cigarette. No. I do not have a photo. If you need one as proof, I swear I could go out and take one today. No lie. It’s that common. Seriously guys? REALLY?

If you think that urinating in a public place, against a wall while smoking a cigarette is a challenge, consider this: the trifecta of toileting. A new friend shared that he saw a man, on a squattie doing three things at the same time: using the squattie the way it was intended, smoking a cigarette, and reading a newspaper. Mad skills, dude. Thank God, no photo.