Tuesday, April 14, 2009


It's time to tell you the grossest thing that happened to me in China. I was reminded of it when I saw this picture:

I need to back up a little and explain the potty situation in the Asian cultures. I'm sure I have some readers who don't realize that around these parts squatty-potties are the norm. Literally, it's a hole in the ground that you squat over and do your business.

In Okinawa it's not so bad. The potties are shaped like a ski: a rectangle with rounded edges that has a lip at the top. This lip is VERY important. I've really never had a hard time finding a western-style toilet here. There's at least one somewhere, if you know where to look for it.

This does not hold true for China. Western-style toilets are like the holy grail that you constantly search for but is just out of reach. If you find one you pee, no matter if you have to go or not.

There are two distinct differences that make squatty-potties in China horrible - or rather, WAY more difficult and gross than Japan.

The first: They have no lip at the top of their hole. Remember how I said that was important? That's because it keeps the pee IN the hole and not sloshed around it. The better places (like the hotels and airports) keep someone in the bathroom at all times that stand in the middle with a mop. That person swishes the floor after each use. NOT with sanitizer, mind you! Just swishing the pee around so that it dries faster.

The second: In Japan they flush their used toilet paper. In China... there's a bucket where you drop it after. It's lovely to see while you're going.

You can imagine the smell.


Okay... so now my story.

We were at the wall in Xi'an. I was standing outside the bathroom waiting for an opening when I took the picture above. I had to go pee SO BAD. I really couldn't wait. Because, trust me, if I could have, I would.

When the bathroom opened up, the floor was so full of pee that I was sliding as I walked. Like, I was literally holding the walls to keep from falling. (I'm getting sick just thinking about it.)

But I had to go, so what could I do?!

I tried to do my business. It was difficult just to get my pants down without slipping. And between the squatting, the making sure that I was balanced and not getting my pants wet...

I fell.

I landed on my right hand - the one I use to do EVERYTHING! I had to get my pants up and buttoned with my left all while keeping my right as far from me as possible.

I WAS FREAKING OUT. Still am, actually.

I was so close to crying. I made it out of the stall only to discover... there was no soap.


I rinsed off with water, all while trying to not slip again...

By the time I made it out to Steven I was at maximum freak out. I held my hand WAY far away from me while I asked (okay, YELLED - but I was REALLY STRESSED) him to get me out the wipes and hand sanitizer. I used the wipes (7 of them) and the sanitizer (half the bottle just to be sure).


Now doesn't that story make you want to visit China?

Album #3 can be found here. Are you getting sick of the pictures yet?



    I used to have hand sanitizer in my purse ALL the time and my friends used to make fun of me about it. And I also have wet wipes fully stocked in my car.

    This is one of the reasons!

  2. LOL!

    I was going to ask you about squatty potties and your experience with them! A friend of mine lives in Malaysia and it came up the other day. The convo started because she wanted to know what we do in Western culture without bidets and then we got into squat potties!

    Sorry about that particular experience. I'm really weird about peeing in public restrooms in general and totally wouldn't have been able to handle that, especially!

  3. Thanks for sharing. LOL That was gross.

    No, we are not getting tired of the pictures.

  4. I had heard about the potty situation there in China...
    All I have to say is I'm really glad I can't smell them all the way over here after that vivid description. ;-)

  5. Remind me to never shake your right hand. Ever. *shudder*

  6. BAHAHA. gross. HATE squatty potties. Glad you had anti bacterial and wipes on hand!

  7. UHHH! Yuck! I went back and forth between shuddering and giggling uncontrollably while reading this post!

  8. omg ewwwwwwwwwwww no i won't be adding that place to my trip log

  9. Heather,
    I'm so glad to check in with you! I started laughing so hard about the squatty potty that I almost peed on myself! Does THAT bring back memories! Hee Hee Peggy Powell

  10. Couple positives:
    1. You had on sneakers you don't like.
    2. Pee is sterile.

    Always seek the happy note. :)

  11. Laughing. But had to throw out there that when I was 19, I lived IN CHINA for a YEAR. The squat pot stories could go on for HOURS, let me tell ya... glad you had such a memorable experience!!

  12. ew. ew. ew. Mental Note. Do not go to China without a catheter.

  13. LOL, Sarah! The catheter might hurt climbing the Great Wall.



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