Women’s Bathrooms in China — The Honest Truth about Chinese Toilets

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I know, everyone always comments on Chinese toilets – they are on the floor, big deal. Well, most of those people who write about the Chinese facilities are men, and let’s face it, when it comes to bathrooms, men have it easy. So here is what really goes on behind the  door.

Are Chinese bathrooms dirty? Yes! But Chinese people have clean hands.

There is a difference in the cultural ideas of cleanliness here.

In the west, we like to have clean restroom facilities because they look nice enough to touch and diminish the fear of festering bacteria. We also have the social responsibility to wash our hands with the facility provided soap and running water or use our convenient little hand sanitizer bottles.

In China, it’s hard to find those little hand sanitizer bottles (really, for some reason there are plenty of large bottles but few little ones) and many restrooms don’t have soap or even running water. There is also the idea that putting your hands under cold water when it is cold out will get you sick (this is actually proved to be correct, but it spreads germs and gets everyone else sick) so there isn’t much emphasis on handwasing. This means that clean is then a matter of keeping your hands clean, not coming into contact with anything at all. Again, guys have it easy here. Girls however have stalls with stall doors and have to flush.

So have you ever seen those old women who, without any modesty, leave the door hanging wide open while doing something rather private then precede to not flush? Sure it seems close to vile in western culture but look at from a cleanliness perspective – she didn’t touch the door handle or the toilet handle. She thinks it’s disgusting when us westerns not only close the door but grab hold of the handle and fasten the lock, then precede to touch the toilet handle, that has been touched by countless people who have just touched some not so clean places, to flush the toilet.

So Many bathrooms in China are outright disgusting, but if you don’t touch anything they are clean as can be.

Should you sit down on a public toilet? It’s probably not a good idea.

Remember that whole idea of not touching anything in the bathroom? That includes the toilet seat. Many Chinese people think public western toilets are disgusting – just think about how many butts have touched it before yours! It’s honestly not the butts you should worry about but the feet. Since many Chinese people think western toilets are dirty, they will proceed to climb onto the seat and squat just like using a regular Chinese toilet. You’ve never wondered why the toilet seats are so scuffed up? Trust me, those shoes aren’t clean.

Those who aren’t climbers are often hoverers and while this is a good clean method, it often misses the mark. My advice is honestly to use a Chinese toilet or bring sani-wipes for the seat.

Are there any nice bathrooms? Sure, there are more and more nice bathrooms everyday

If you are ever out and about, go to any KFC or McDonald’s. Generally, any foreign owned franchise will employ western sanitation techniques and many higher end Chinese establishments are pretty good about it as well.

How bad are the squatters? Not that bad, but they have their drawbacks.

I have tons of western friends who love them and prefer them to western toilets – these friends are all men.

The thing that no one tells you about women and squatters is that… there can be splash back. No one wants to admit that it happens, but I’ve heard many embarrassed confessions. There was even this one joke about not kissing dirty ankles.

Sometimes there is no splash guard, or you squat too far forward or not center enough and so you miss. I’m sure you personally never do, and I sure don’t, but someone does because there are often little puddles on the foot areas next to or in front of the squatters.

It doesn’t matter though, it’s only the bottoms of your shoes that get dirty right? Well, pant legs and long skirts sometimes come down a bit more than expected when you squat. You might notice women rolling up their pant legs while waiting in line, do what the locals do. Also, don’t wear those foam flip-flops or cloth-covered shoes to the Chinese WC.

Do you have to undress to use a squatter? No.

You’d be surprised how many people try to take their pants off, or at least one pant leg off, to use the squatters. It explains some of the long waits in the women’s room. It’s not necessary – you’ll figure it out. If you are really worried, just wear skirts.

So it’s just squatters and dirty western toilets, right? Yes, if you stay within the major cities.

If you ever leave a major city, just hold it until you go back.

So the variety of restroom facilities really varies by region in China and goes by many different terms.   They also vary in different degrees of laowai-friendliness.

Some are really decent outhouses that are actually better than the porter potties at American county fairs and construction sites.

Some are really just big holes in the ground with one wall to give the illusion of privacy. With a nice country breeze and plenty of room, these can actually better than some bathrooms in the cities.  In some areas, these holes or pits are called fèikǒng – waste holes.

I think the Darwin award should go to whomever decided to build a windowless brick outhouse in the middle of the Inner Mongolian desert. I suppose it probably does withstand the sand and wind better than any other structure, but ever heard of a brick oven? I think it’s actually one the levels of Hell to be locked in a small room full of other people’s baking feces.

For the really bad bathrooms, just put some of those scented tissues over your nose and be fast!

What about 男/女 restrooms? The problem with many bathrooms that don’t separate men and women is honestly the locks…

Remember the thing about touching the locks? Men often don’t lock the doors either. It’s scary walking in on a drunk man with a cigarette in his mouth who smiles as he lets you enjoy the view. It’s even worse when you are using the facilities with a broken lock and a man walks in on you and takes way too long to turn around and close the door. There are many doors that don’t close right or don’t lock so have someone guard the door for you. It’s just embarrassing.

Why are there urinals in the women’s bathroom?

I’ve come across this a couple of times and had to do a double take to make sure I went through the right door.  Yes, there are sometimes male urinals in the women’s bathrooms in China.  I’ve asked around and they are for women who have to take their sons to the bathroom.  I guess it makes sense.

Are children toilet trained? Sure.

Many 3-5 year-olds still pee right on the floor. Well, if you don’t want to endure the Chinese bathrooms, why put innocent children through it?

This actually puzzled me for the longest time. Finally I got around to asking about this. One reason is that children, apparently, shouldn’t have to hold it if there isn’t a bathroom readily available, that’s actually what that bucket is for on buses (or at least I’ve most commonly seen it used as such). Reason two is that children can fall in or fall down and touch something and then they need a bath. See, Chinese people are actually very cleanliness conscious, it just looks like using a public floor for relief is unclean to foreign bystanders.

Can children really fall in? Maybe.

It really depends on the toilet. Remember how some women miss? Well, sometimes those floors are really slick and I’ve almost fallen down a couple times myself. Remember those waste holes? Sometimes the pits are actually quite large and you have to balance yourself on a corner. I could imagine a small child falling in and then needing help to get out… In general, I think the children are big enough to use a public restroom without falling in.

Should you eat the pork? That’s really a personal choice.

If you are ever out in the country, you may or may not want to use the facilities before dinner. You see, some people don’t want to clean the outhouse, it’s dirty. So sometimes people connect the outhouses to the pig pens so they can kill two birds with one stone – don’t have to clean the outhouse and not have to feed the pigs. It is really disturbing seeing how excited the pigs get when they see you walking up to the outhouse…


I experienced some really bad bathrooms in China, things that I still have nightmares about but don’t even phase most Chinese people. I’ve also spent more time outside of the big cities than a lot of foreigners. Basically, Chinese bathrooms can pose some challenges, but you get used to them and then they really just aren’t a big deal.

There are many times in China and when I envied men, they have it easy when it comes to bathrooms.  Often men don’t even bother using the facilities, especially if the restroom is dirty, far away, or occupied.  I blame men for stinking up the streets and that one area in the park!

Talk on Women’s Bathrooms in China — The Honest Truth about Chinese Toilets


147 Comments
  1. LOL! That’s why so many people in China prefer to do it on the sidewalk/park/underpass/you name it. Because those places are so much cleaner than a typical Chinese public bathroom.

  2. Profile photo of

    Great info Ericka. I will add that unless it’s a quick #1, men have all the problems women do, including the challenge of getting things positioned to a somewhat uncomfortable downward angle.

    Also, I find the best place to hit up for clean western toilets are large hotel chains. Most are situated in tourist areas so are often convenient, and most will have a nice bathroom in the lobby. Just use your Laowai Card of Entitlement and Belonging to get past the door guards.

    McDs is usually much better for having Western toilets than KFC, but the state of them make the squatters a much better choice for all the reasons you mentioned above.

    One other thing I always encourage newcommers to do is to get over the squatter anxiety as quickly as possible. Squatters aren’t that tough to get used to, but the fear of having to use one when you’re not comfortable with the process is enough to get your guts turning and make you OD on Imodium for trips to the grocery store. It’s just not worth it. Get your squatter skills down and instantly feel comfortable going anywhere you please — but don’t forget the bog roll!

  3. Another thing to notice is that shopping-center/airport/mall restrooms often have doors that lead straight into the restroom. This may not seem strange on the surface, but think back to bathrooms in the US/Europe/Japan and you’ll realize that they all have U- or Z-turns as you walk in so that people outside can’t see directly into the bathroom area. Not so in China! This is especially unfortunate for men who must use the urinals in plain sight of the door; no doors to conveniently cover us as we do “our business”.

    • Yep.. Eventually you get used to the lack of privacy. There are often cleaners, male & female working away in the toilets too… Grin & bare it… The air at the moment is a daily haze of disgusting grey … so the toilets I can put up with…

  4. What a terrible and racist article. What about the filthy conditions of mens’ toilets in the USA. Most American men can’t see to pee straight. How many times one walks into a sit down toilet and see pee all over the sea because some jerk couldn’t pee into the middle? How often do you see pee all over the ground around the toilet and all over the floor.

    If you don’t like China, get the hell out.

    • Where oh where did you see any reference to Western toilets being cleaner? This is an article about Chinese toilets and Chinese toilet attitudes.

      It’s not racist to comment on cultural differences, and frankly, the article is fairly balanced in mentioning that it is FOREIGNER’S lack of understanding of Chinese toilet culture that causes the problems FOR FOREIGNERS.

      Quote:

      ‘Sure it seems close to vile in western culture but look at from a cleanliness perspective – she didn’t touch the door handle or the toilet handle. She thinks it’s disgusting when us westerns not only close the door but grab hold of the handle and fasten the lock, then precede to touch the toilet handle, that has been touched by countless people who have just touched some not so clean places, to flush the toilet.

      So Many bathrooms in China are outright disgusting, but if you don’t touch anything they are clean as can be.’

      If you read this as written, it is clear and balanced. Get the stick out to your ass- if anyone is being ethnocentric, its you.

      • Agreed.

        If the commenter read the statements about Chinese people feeling that the cleaner alternative was x or y, where Americans think x or y is dirty and employ strategy z, as sarcasm, then they might think it was racist. What they didn’t realize was that it wasn’t sarcasm. They couldn’t imagine it because their attitude is entrirely rooted in a western attitude, or assumes the author’s is. Either way, that is some serious bias – and not the author’s.

      • I am not from the U.S. but from a Latin American country. Even if I live in a developing country we are still more hygienic than Chinese. We use Western style toilets and overall we are cleaner than in China. The time has come that China raises its hygienic standards to the rest of the world. China was a poor country. Now it is time to be clean if the want others to respect you.

    • PFFFT! Right…..racist. The writer provided a well balanced view about each of the two different perspectives. To say the chinese are a filthy, disgusting group of people….
      Now that is racist.
      Oh and dont worry, I never want to travel to your fucking country. Internet Censorship, High rape rates, Fake and poisonous food, people pissing and shitting on the street, scientists who create a more virulent version of the H1N1 just for the hell of it, air pollution, complete lack of respect for the monks of Tibet, the one child per family forcing men now to steal women from the hinterlands because there are not many women left in the urban areas.
      Yeah, I wont ever go to China, but with the way your country does things, I dont think there are many people who would.
      BTW, this is a view point that is not old for me, I have always wanted to visit Beijing and Hong Kong, but with the plethora of examples I have shown you just from the past 5 years, I doubt I will ever.

      • James
        A well balanced view is in fact a biased view. There are Chinese toilets which if you’ve never seen it, you’d think impossible. As a regular visitor to China for business and family reasons, I make sure I empty myself thoroughly before leaving a decent hotel. There are toilets in India which I always thought were impossible – but after China, even Indian loos look tolerable.

        On the other hand Chinese food is fabulous (if you can get over the idea that you may be being poisoned by pollution).

      • You’d better watch your mouth, you piece of shit! Of course you won’t want to travel to China. Otherwise, I guess you will end up with either being killed by the poisonous food or pissed on walking on the street or choke to death by the air pollution.

    • I have visited the USA, although I know China better. I have never been in an American toilet piled high with excrement, nor one where the stink of urea stings my eyes as I enter. I have regularly experienced both the above in China, and not just in the countryside. I have lived in various parts of Europe and SE Asia and again, never seen toilets in the conditions routinely seen in China. Indeed, I have spent much of my life in international airports, and the only place I’ve seen little children be allowed to openly urinate on the floor in an airport concourse is in China. As for racism – a silly slur on your part. These are comments of fact, nothing to do with racism.

    • WTF??? “See to pee all over the sea”? That’s pretty funny. But seriously: OMG!! This article is anything but racist. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Most men can’t pee straight? “If you don’t like China, get the hell out”???? More misdirected anger and stupidity.

    • I have travelled to the USA and have spent more than a decade going to China regularly. I have never seen any toilets in the USA as dirty as some toilet in some places in China; and I don’t believe anyone else has. As for your advice about not like China – leave it – excellent advice. I would have some advice for you too – if you are at all concerned about your health – leave China.

    • Is telling the truth suddenly racist? Is it racist in your world to say that most Africans have black skins?

  5. Haha, funny article! But I do agree on getting used to the squat toilets fast. when you do get used to them they’re more comfortable to use than western toilets (if there’s a “splash gurad”) as you don’t have to sit down.

    LaoWaiGuy: Oh come on! Why do guys even stand up peeing? The height from which you pee makes splashes up and to the toilet seat no matter if you pee in the middle of or beside the toilet!
    Also I think you missed the whole point of this entry…

  6. Pingback: The Truth About Chinese Toilets « 万水千山

  7. This is a great article. I’ve wanted to write a toilet post for a long time and have just never gotten around to it. My first experience squatting here in China was on the train to Harbin, thank god they had a handle to brace myself or I would’ve gone right in.

    One problem you might not have in the women’s toilets is people staring at your hardware. Dudes at the urinals unapologetically look down at my junk like 50% of the time.

  8. I read somewhere that when judging the cleanliness of a restaurant you should take a look at the toilets, as these are much easier to clean than a restaurant kitchen – if the toilets are dirty, then the kitchen is bound to be unhygienic too.
    If I followed this advice in China I’d never eat out at all.

    • Profile photo of Ericka

      that is very true – my friends and I used to go to this one restaurant just because it had great bathrooms! We didn’t even care for the food that much, but something about the bathrooms kept us coming back.

  9. Ah..bringing back disturbing mental imagery of outhouses in rural Gansu.

    We westerners tend to think of spitting as quite disgusting as well, but as my Chinese friend said to me one day, “whats more disgusting – spitting it or swallowing it”

    @LaiwaiGuys – ahh…. fck it, why even bother.

    • What s most disgusting spitting or swallowing it?

      The answer is spitting it. If you ingest it (as human-being do naturally) then the viruses are dealt with by the stomach acid.

      If you spit it out, it drys and becomes dust and blows in the wind, leading to generalised infections throughout the population. Maybe this is why it is illegal to spit in China.

      • Illegal to spit in China? They must not know that! Holy crap! Everywhere I turned men were spitting, indoors and out! I spent the majority of my month long stay in China holding back vomit each time someone hocked a loogie in my general vicinity. I even got hit by one once! I lost my lunch everywhere. That to me was more disturbing then the flooded ladies toilets at the International Market in Yiwu.

        • It’s also illegal to smoke in restaurants in China, not as though you’d know it. One would think the law made obligatory to smoke in restaurants.

  10. This is the best article on Chinese toilets so far, mixing together the right amounts of disgust, terror, humour and practical information. China can have the worst, by far, toilets when I compare my travels through the US, Canada, Japan and China. To make up for this, China has the best jiaozi in the whole wide world.

    The best advice I can give on the subject is “Watch where you step”.

  11. Erika you forgot rule # 1 before even entering either a mens or ladies

    BRING YOUR OWN PAPER!

    For us spoiled Westerners access to paper fibre in public facilities is almost considered a human right. China not so (hey it costs money…). I find that this is usually newbie mistake number two after we finish navigating a squatter and are proud of ourselves for getting through on the “starter blocks” , nothing more frustrating than realizing that there isnt a swath of 3 ply in site….

    (another reason why I agree with Ryan’s strategy of scoping out the 5/* 4/* facilities if conveninent

    • hilarious article, I really enjoyed reading it. I’m sure everybody that visits this site has some horror story about a bathroom here. westerners trade stories about public bathrooms in China like vets trading war stories about battle scars. it’s become a running joke for my western friends and me that there are almost no complete public bathrooms in China. they’re always missing something, whether it be paper, running water, soap, or a drying station. I found a great one in the Haidian mall in Beijing; paper that I didn’t need but thanks anyways, hot water, soap… and then I went to dry my hands and… nope. so close! I’ve found the Pizza Hut bathrooms to be pretty amazing in comparison to the medieval muckstalls that get cleaned on a, what, monthly basis? the bathrooms at Pizza Hut makes me feel like a king–wow, western toilets, fluffy paper, soap, hot water, hot air hand dryer… and wait… what? everything’s clean?? is this the Twilight Zone? on a very serious level though, you can’t expect every bathroom will be a palace when you have a billion and a half people relieving themselves in the same places every day.

  12. My first encounter with a squatter was actually in France. I was about 16 at the time, and stared at the sculpted hole in the floor in astonishment and confusion for a minute or two.

    By the time I was working in South Korea quitea few years later, I’d had to accept those darned things, and even figure out a suitable position/angle… But one thing that I can never surpass is the aching knees, as someone who never otherwise squats will find it, quite literally, a real pain to be in that position for a few minutes.

    Don’t even get me started on using them in winter, when you’re wearing an extra layer of trousers…

    • I have no idea where you found a squatter toilet in France (not that there anything wrong with them). I haven’t seen them since the early 1970s, and I spend on average a few days a month there.
      Squat toilet if clean are hygienic, and great exercise for the thighs and sense of balance. Nobody tarries reading a newspaper or texting while in them!

  13. Well which is it?
    Are they touching the doors/locks/flushers etc. or arent they? If they are not, then there is no reason to fear touching anything for it is not dirty. If they are (touching doors/locks/flushers etc.), then there is no excuse not to wash their hands… The Chinese bathroom paradox.

    • Profile photo of Ericka

      The problem is that when people try to avoid touching things, a bigger mess is usually made – like when people try to hover. I’ve often been in bathrooms where I honestly couldn’t figure out how some of the stuff got on the walls.

  14. All through my youth (admittedly, some time ago — should be ‘better’ now) I battled squatting-style toilets in France. The squatting I got used to, but unlike most squatters in China, the French variety was invariably equipped with a veritable water-cannon. The challenge would always be after doing your business and getting dressed again, to hit ‘flush’ at the same time as leaping out of the stall and sprinting out of the way without slipping and breaking your neck. In an effort to be hygienic, the water-cannon would project the #2 and paper not into the hole, but out over the floor and onto your shoes.
    A great thing about Chinese toilets is not having to be self-conscious about being smelly yourself. Feast on beans all you like, nobody will know.

  15. we r making efforts to improve . the condition is getting well these years , so try to inderstand here and try to love here

  16. You are stupid, and your article is terrible. Why can’t you just tell the truth?

    China’s sanitation standards are not up to those of the civilized world. They are dirty people for the most part. The streets are filled with litter at night, which attracts rats and then disease. And the bathrooms are just plain disgusting.

    What I really can’t stand is when you suggest something like toilet paper and soap being in the bathroom, and you get this moronic response about how this is not the “Chinese way,” or something like that. Or, even worse, something like……”They have 1.3 billion people; they can’t possibly have western hygiene standards.” Why not??

    It’s a dirty country and they have a ways to go. It has nothing to do with “Chinese culture.” Do you think Hu Jintao’s house is more like the average Chinese or the average American? And does that mean Hu Jintao is “less Chinese” than the common slobs that you look to as people living the “Chinese way.”

    And, by the way. I was at a Taiwanese resort recently; with all WESTERN toilets. Maybe they are not Chinese enough for you?

    P.S. Sorry for ranting, but anyone who defends less than first class hygiene is trash in my book. It not like there is a shortage of affordable labor to clean up the country.

    • 洁癖 much? you’ve obviously only had superficial experiance both in China and/or with chinese people. Your rant shows you to be both ill informed and petty.

      • superficial, ill-informed, petty???

        why? because I choose to associate with Chinese people who have similar education and social class to myself.

        If a Chinese professional makes a trip to America, is he supposed to go hang out in a trailer park in West Virgina so that he can see the “real America?”

        You backpacker types who think only the poor and uneducated people are authentic make me sick.

        • “You backpacker types who think only the poor and uneducated people are authentic make me sick.”

          I go to China on business, and I see the same things are the back-packer types. Only in China have I seen people spitting in 5* hotels – spitting in lifts, spitting on carpets….and as for the toilets – the worst toilet in “real America” I suspect would be better than the average toilet in China.

    • Profile photo of Ericka

      I don’t know what your education and social class are, but the developed China you see today is a fairly recent development. The number of highly educated Chinese professionals who grew up entitled are few and far between. It is becoming fairly easy to run into some professionals in their 20’s who had a cushioned childhoods, but other than that not really. I know plenty of Chinese phDs and millionaire businessmen who came from poor farming families and worked their way out of poverty. Their parents still live in the countryside because is where they want to be. If you ever get invited to the hometown of one of your Chinese friends you deem acceptable, you might find that person’s parents to be one of those people you deem less “authentic.” No one is telling you to go to the countryside or interact with people “below” your status, but how can you judge those people as less “authentic” or less “real?” The country and the cities are two sides of the same coin, and one needs to see both sides to understand the whole.
      And yes, if a Chinese professional really wants to understand the American market, he should go to the poorer areas to see how different economic levels affect spending habits. American people with lower to mid level incomes make up a huge chunk of American buyers for everyday goods and services.

      • @ADH – us backpacker types? Wow – more sweeping generalisations, nice work sunshine. I’d dare say i’ve spent a lot more time in the company of university professors and absurdly rich businessman – not to mention subsistance farmers, than yourself – but you keep on with making dick soapbox statements about who ‘we’ and what ‘they’ are.

        If you associate with Chinese people similar to yourself, well…that explains a lot about your perception of Chinese and China.

      • Well.. this seems to have stirred up a bit of contraversy.

        Let me first say, that I too know rich Chinese, who behave like animals, and I know middle class Chinese who have perfectly acceptable manners. So it’s really not a money thing. And if you read my comments above you will see that I never said it’s a money thing. It’s a class thing. Some people have class,and some don’t.

        Why is a lack of class so common and prevelant among Chinese? Probably communism has the most to do with it. At least that’s my best guess. Although the brainwashing about China being the center of the world has existed before communism.

        And I have been in the countryside of places more poor than China; Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and have never, never, encountered the rude disgusting ways I have seen in China.

        Another thing, look at Japan. They maintain a strong culture of their own but are always willing to adapt new ways when they see that maybe the Germans or Americans have a better way of doing something. Not so with the Chinese in most cases; which also expains why this place is so backward.

        So I’m not a big fan of China. I have my reasons. But I must say that I think I am a lot less prejustice toward China people than Chinese people I know in America and Hong Kong.

    • Are you serious? You wrote that comment as a satire of pretentious ignorant rich white trash, right? Wait–you’re Paris Hilton, aren’t you?

      • Oh snap, ADH is so damn classy that I feel honoured just to have him read the same blog I do. I really hope that I get considered to be one of the people who has class *cross my finger and pray real hard*

        As for “prejustice”, I am in total agreement. I as a Chinese with Canadian citizenship hate those “China people”. Plucky little scamps!how dare they be born to a less fortunate position than I. They should all be shot.

    • I must admit I enjoyed reading your post ;-D I’ve been living in Beijing for five years and have seen both ends of the spectrum. I’ve visited Chinese homes with sparkling bathrooms where you are expected to take off your shoes at the entrance to homes with dirty squatters, where visitors are allowed to sit on beds and walk around with their mucky shoes. So, from my personal experience, I’ve learned not to classify all Chinese people in the same light. Some are very clean and hygienic and some are slobs… I think you will find the same in any country.

      • While I agree there is a great deal of variation within any country on hygiene standards, I have been to some 70 odd countries and I have rarely seen public loos as in China, and have never seen anyone spitting on the carpets in 5 star hotels, except in China.
        In fact I cannot think of any country where spitting is so ubiquitous.

    • Hu Jintaos toilet is probably like every other Chinese house. He probably has no problems with dirty toilets.

    • You are definitely right and you could not have said it any better. And I am not an American or a European. I am from a South American emerging country. There are standards for cleanliness period. It is not a matter of culture. No matter where one comes from. Either you are clean or dirty. China has a lot to catch up on the cleanliness side. And citizens all over the world are realizing that.

      • You are right. Go to Thailand which has a GNP per capita about the same as China, and you’ll see for the most part, impeccable toilets.

  17. Wow. This must be what being in politics feels like…..say something that people don’t agree with or is not politically correct and your opponents then misquote you, put words into your mouth, or come up with their own unique (mis)interpretation of what you said.

    Chinese bathrooms. They are dirty. I think 90% of this has to do with Mao and his version of communism. Another reason for the dirtyness may be the 5000 year old medical technolgy still used in China, AKA, Traditional Chinese Medicine.

    They still believe in this nonsense. Here is a nice article about it:
    http://skepticblog.org/2008/11/02/tcm-1/

  18. Thanks, Ericka; nice writing; didn’t faze me because I live in Mexico on the Baja Sur where bathrooms aren’t an issue except for tourists. Thanks, too, to all the articulate responders: half the fun of reading articles, blogs and columns,¿no? In re bathrooms and sanitation in general, it is mainly a dollar thing. Most of you are probably too young to know that in the U.S., before the advent of television, obsessing about cleanliness was not on the national agenda. But in the mid 50’s when TV high-jacked the nightlife of most households soap, tile cleaners, floor wax and blue color for the toilet water (!) were the major adverts over hundreds of hours per year. There’s a lot of bucks out there that Americans pay to keep clean. Yet we are not leaders, we lag, in terms of life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy and happiness. Well, gotta go. In parting, I’ll just say keep your nose clean and wash behind the ears. Hey; Great Web Site!

  19. Western Toilet can be used by sitting and squatting.

    Squat Toilet can only be used by squatting.

    If your leg is broken and it mustn’t be bent because it is tied by bandage…what can you do with the squat toilet?

    So the winner is western toilet but with bidet of course ’cause water is better to clean than toilet paper does, and wastafel to wash hands. And the toilet should be covered by 4 walls!!!!

    USING TOILET IS A PRIVACY! I DON’T WANT SOMEONE TO SQUAT AND GRAB AND PULL MY SKIRT/LEGS WHEN I AM SITTING ON IT.

    • Profile photo of Ericka

      “If your leg is broken and it mustn’t be bent because it is tied by bandage…what can you do with the squat toilet?”

      I can answer how it’s done. You keep the broken leg straight while squating with the good leg and use the wall for support or have someone physically support you up. This can be hard on the good leg though.

  20. well, i am from beijing and now living in spain. from where i come from, most of the spanish toilets are filthy! so why not take a big tour before you say ‘in western countries’ or sth similar. of course everywhere has clean bathrooms and the dirty ones. but no need to generalize

    • Mina

      I have lived in Spain and in China so don’t give me this rubbish about Spanish toilets. I have been in airports in China where the stench of the toilet can be smelled at 20 metres. I have been in Chinese toilets where the smell of urea smarts your eyes. I have been in Chinese toilets where there are piles of excrement piled up all around.

      The dirtiest Spanish toilet is no where near as dirty as the average Chinese toilet.

  21. Hi Ericka,

    What you have written is very true and objective. I am Chinese and living in Australia at the moment. Well, in Australia it depends on the location, for example toilets at train stations are dirtier than those in a hotel. However, toilets are cleaner in general than in China, toilet paper is most of the time provided and you’ll find no spitting on the bathroom/toilet floor.

    To those who over critisise the article => It’s not an anti-china propaganda, so take it easy! Open or change your mind does not mean that you’re losing anything. Reasonable criticism could only help to encourage development, right?

    To Ericka => Best luck and enjoy your time in China!

  22. Pingback: Weird Things That I Got Used to in China, Part II | Lost Laowai China Blog

  23. Excellent article. I just have to share that I used a bathroom in a Shanghai restaurant that (prepare yourself) was western style, had soap, had toilet paper, the toilet water was blue, and had TOILET SEAT COVERS. I almost died from shock/elation.

  24. Well being a western female, who also married a guy from Xi’an
    I have to say I never liked the squatters and I can not get used to them whenever I am in China.( I also hunt out the western WC’S and some times I am sad to seem them used as storage areas) Even my sons when they were little did not like them- once when visiting their grandparents in the countryside there was only a pit toliet outside- my son refused to use it and and would not go potty at all in the pit so we left early to head backs towards the city-just to get to a flushable WC lol! The grandparents did have a ” seat” that was made to go on top of it for use, once when some one once needed it ( maybe pregnant person? So I guess this is done when needed) I think to say the chinese are clean if nothing in the WC is touched- is not true – what if you need to have a bowel movement and you touched nothing, you still had to touch your buttocks to wipe- right? So your hands get dirty and you may have feces there- it is very important any way you try to twist it – to wash with soap and water ( even cold water), would you want a Dr to treat you with out washing? Being in the medical field I can tell you not washing your hands is one of the BIGGEST reasons people are sick— ( not from the fan or the wind or coldness) both in the USA and China since it causes many infections– but some Chinese may not connect or blame the illness on lack of hand washing this can also be the case with cooking in China things are not as clean as they should be and most Staph infections are do to poor hygiene. I was told by family memebers about the dirty public WC that Chinese thinking is “since we are doing something dirty there- why do we need to have such a clean place to do a dirty thing?” I have been in too many public Squatters where there was human waste all over the ground and it is so hard not to pick up germs not to mention it looks and smells horrible and trying to balance squatting, holding your clothing up and getting your papet ready to wipe and not have your clothing get dirty trying to avoid stepping on it when there is no where else to step or have your pants not touch the waste is just too much- going to the WC should not be so hard,,However I find many young people now want cleaner WCs and from my experience most rich people and people with new housing are installing western WCs even if some use their feet on them ( LOL) a habit I can not break my 7 yr old from :(
    I think in time china may have cleaner WCs- it is a shame many places look at it as too costly– that they should not have to pay for the cost of soap and water or towels—but what about health reasons as I see too many Chinese using Iv drips in their houses with out a second thought and chain smoking non stop and drinking way too much– Education may be the key to getting cleaner WCs and less smokers in China and i feel things are heading that way– as all the new apartments I have been in — every one had western WC and not one had a squat — a good thing if you ask me!

  25. True story: One of my friends and I were walking his dog in a neighbourhood in Chongqing and his dog jumped into an open construction outhouse (it was hillarious). The dog died two days later (Slightly less hillarious..).

  26. ADH is correct. This article is a ridiculous justification for dirtiness. I have been to some 70 or 80 different countries and very few have toilets that are anywhere near as dirty as Chinese toilets. The smell alone in the average Chinese toilet would make most people feint – I am talking smells beyond imagination. The reason for it is that the toilets are not cleaned at all – and where they are they are poorly cleaned. This applies to even prestigious building like airports. The reason is that for the average Chinese they do not see it as a problem. Just go into the toilets of a 777 after a flight with a lot of Chinese on the plane and you will see the problem.
    As for the squatting and the lack of doors on the toilers – while the lack of doors is difficult for most of the world, this is a cultural issue of no importance.

  27. Frankly I can understand people doing it in the outside to avoid the loos.

    There is one disgusting habit in China which the author did not touch on – its the spitting. I think for the average westerner this is worse than the toilets in that you quickly learn to avoid public toilets and use hotels and more respectable establishments. (Having said that I have seen a child urinate in an international airport not more than 30 metres from a toilet and no one blinked an eyelid).
    The spitting however – preceded by clearing of the throat, and the phlegm which seems to come from their socks, and then the spitting – is truly disgusting. What’s more you cannot avoid it; I have even seen them spitting on the carpet in 5 star hotels, and no one seems to challenge them or even blink.

  28. You can’t blame them for wanting to give their anus a bit of fresh air in the park!

    Infinitely worse than spitting is when they grasp their nose with two claws (fingers are clearly reserved for humans) and blow hard and a long stream of neon green/yellow mucus erupts (due to the sheer amount) and they proceed to wipe it on their trousers leg.

    Thought of the day: Why do some Chinese people NOT do that and think it’s disgusting whilst others see no issue with it? I mean, it has nothing to do with status, as I have seen very cleanly peasants scoff at city people spitting. My wife is from the middle of nowhere cubed but her entire family is very civilised, even though they are poor. I think it may have to do with family education or lack thereof.

    In the really remote places, in fact, I have noticed that the people are generally more civilised, in this regard, and also not trying their damndest to extract something from you. Hence, I love driving my motorcycle to blank spots on the map.

    • 马腾 – you are totally correct. When I was talking about spitting it was the phenomena that you describe is what I was trying to describe. Has anyone any idea why they do it? As you say it is not associated with social class – although in China ‘class’ is so difficult to ascribe in that even multi-millionaires have in their life-time worked for $1 a day. There are rich who do it and poor who don’t do it…. but overall there are a lot more ‘gobbers’ than ‘non-gobbers’.
      Which particular spots on the map do you recommend?

      • Russel,
        I don’t think that it’s most, but it depends on where you are. Chongqing was the worst I’ve seen where at least 75% of the people were “farmers”. One day I was taking the lift up to my apartment when a rush of people came out and what do you think I found on the middle of the lift floor??? A puddle of piss. YES, IN THE LIFT! The dogs are more cleanly there!

        That being said, when I lived in Guilin, a beautiful city in the south, the spitters were definitely in the minority, although still present. I would suggest shopping around China for a city you like before “settling down”, as there are amazing paradises, but also hell holes.

        As to why they spitt and blow their noses, it is to get rid of the build up of dust and pollution that builds up in thar. But for some reason the spitters get more phlegm than us Laowai (and civilised Chinese). It may be because they also smoke, but this doesn’t explain the women I’ve seen doing it, unless their husbands smoke.

    • Yes, never wear sandals in public W.C. When you need to drop a load the best place to do so is McDonalds or KFC. If you are out of the city just hold it until no one is looking and..

      Personally, I found that I almost never needed to drop a load during the day because Chinese food is filling and takes a while to digest. So I would just eat a decent breakfast or lunch and then wait until I got home in the evening. Sometimes I could even go on two or more days. So, my advice is eat the excellent Chinese food!

      In Guangzhou the W.C. at the bus station smelled so bad that a local told me that if I wanted to find the bus station I could smell my way there. He was right! The floor had a centimetre or two of slimy yellow crust. I got as far as the doorway before I decided to hold it six hours until the coach stopped at a rest stop. ;)

      • I have heard the gobbing theory is caused by smoking – but observations in my Chinese family do not correlate this; there are a number of non-smoking gobbers. I often go down to Guangxhi province on business – some 100 kms into the hills where they are all farmers. I would note they are not Han and they speak neither Mandarin nor Cantonese as their first language – and the level of spitting is negligible. I suspect there is a strong cultural element to spitting among the Han.
        As to your point about KFC and McDonalds – I long ago realised that if it were not for them I would have had to had a catheter to walk around a Chinese city.
        I agree totally about Chinese food. It is absolutely delicious and a variety from region to region that is stunning. The Chinese are right to be proud of their culinary heritage…. it is amazing that the CCP didn’t manage to destroy it.
        As for the pissing in the lift – a friend of mine lives in one of the most prestigious apartment blocks in Beijing and she says they even spit in the gymnasium floors and walls there!
        I would just love a Chinese to come up with an explanation for the gobbing. My Chinese wife is as disturbed by it as I am – and she assures me that they are all taught that it is disgusting and unhygienic at school.
        Does anyone else know anywhere where they spit / gob like in China? The only place I have seen anything similar is where people take areca nuts and betel.

  29. Guangxi province is where I spent most of my time and my wife is a Zhuang minority. I think that the cities are disgusting but the countryside is.. well not clean, certainly nice, though. Rather like a less developed southern Europe.

    I think that the reason the CCP didn’t destroy the culinary heritage is because food and eating are the most important thing to Chinese. Even if the buildings are falling apart around them and other problems, they eat well.

  30. Great article Ericka. Tastefully done with wit and humor. I imagine that with a country of 1.3 billion people, it’s pretty difficult to figure out where to get funds for luxuries. EGADS, I’ve never realized my toilet was a luxury. Thanks, now I appreciate every commode I use like I never have before.

    • Hi Tami

      I don’t think it is an issue of money or luxury. I have asked Chinese about this extensively, including my in-laws. They just do not see it as a problem. In fact if you go to toilets in people’s houses you will see – well they are better than public loos, but certainly nowhere near as clean as the average western loo. What always worries me in some of their loos is if the ammonia is etching my glasses.

  31. Good article,but there’s some racist comments there.
    @Russell “I would note they are not Han and they speak neither Mandarin nor Cantonese as their first language ” There are more dialects than you think.

    As a Chinese person, my explanation for dirty washroom lies in the concept of “public”. “If something is public that means its not mine; if its not mine then I don’t care about it” is a pretty common mentality among the people I know. To change this, even a civilized city like Hong Kong has to use heavy fines plus TV hygiene message from the government. (not the washroom, but the spitting) In some popular washrooms, I’ve noticed that they actually hired a full time worker to clean the washroom once every hour, maybe even once every 30-mins.

    • Yungzi,

      我不觉得他说了什么坏话。在中国就是那样。广西壮族自治区有N多不同的语言。在北方有人说普通话(桂柳话)和在南方最多的人说广东话但是在中间,西方,和北方其他人都说少数民族的语言。这些语言跟“中文”没有太大的关系。我能说点壮话。它比较像泰语,但是我老婆听不懂泰语所以也不那么像。有可能说克家话的人也是汉族人,我觉得。也有蛮多在广西。

      我想,如果在西方没有工作人每天洗卫生间干净那边也会很脏。可是我们都会抱怨。在中国我发现有很多厕所修好了以后没有洗一次。好恐怖!我非常同意你说的很多中国人不管公共场所弄的怎么样。还好中国很多小城市像桂林比很多西方的城市漂亮多了。修的很美丽。哦,我要走。下次在说。

    • Hongkong has 100 years of British occupation to thank for the non-spitting and decent toilet facilities.
      If you go to non-Han areas of China I find there is much less spitting. The spitting is somehow part of Han culture. No idea why.
      You are probably correct to some extent about the toilets being a victim of the Chinese attitude ‘if its not mine I can destroy it.’ It does not explain why all the world is not as disgusting as the Chinese in their toilets. I wonder if they are ever taught to use a toilet?

      • Reply to Ryan:

        This could well be correct. It could be there is a lack of public toilet facilities? However, having said that I always manage to find a loo if I need one in China.

        I have even seen on two occasions small children urinating (thank heaven nothing more) in airport waiting rooms – despite the fact there were totally clean toilets only a minute walk away.

        What was most amazing to me was the reaction of the rest of the people. I was gob-smacked. No one else seemed to think anything of it. What was even more incredible was that the parents did not seem fit to clean up the mess.

        However, for me, what takes the biscuit is the spitters on the nice carpets of 5* hotels.

    • Yunzi

      You said there are more dialects than I think.

      There are rather less dialects than you think. I note your Han racism towards these people. They are not dialects. Look it up in the dictionary or a linguists text book. They are languages. As for me not being aware of these languages – I speak on of these (from your racist Han point of view) “less languages”.

      FYI these languages are no less a language than Mandarin or English or German.

  32. Thanks for the detailed info! That’ll come handy ina few weeks when I go to China. :)

    The squatter toilet is very common in Turkey too, where I have been multiple times. At first it was really scary and I still thank God I didn’t have to do the “big” thing in a squatter because I really wouldn’t know how to do it. For peeing it is not a big deal to get used to it. I’m not sure if I can ask advice on the “big” deals in a squatter XD

    • The problem also is that often there are no Walls or doors on the toilet. You are there squatting, and everyone is going to be watching you do your business. On one occasion in the countryside I have even been in the loo where men and women were in the same place.
      My advice is whenever you are in a hotel go to the loo. If you must go seek an international hotel, or a KFC or a MCDonalds….if not pray.

  33. ADH – my sincerest compliments to you for being bold enough to point out the obvious fact that the majority of Chinese people in China have no class. This lack of class is evidenced by their lack of hygiene, manners, and complete lack of consideration for other people. I feel it necessary to point out to those left-wing excuse-makers, that I am gay and am engaged to a Indian man. Thus, my views are very liberal. The rest of this post will be a general discussion on what some of the posters have said…

    I and my partner subscribe to the highest standards of hygiene, not because we are rich, but because we have CLASS. Class has nothing to do with money or genetics. People’s class is determined by how they live their lives. As an example, I have a brother who has zero class and is also filthy in his hygiene habits. We have the same parents and are only seperated by the choices we made. I made a choice to have class and respect other human being, and he made a choice to be filthy, trashy, and be as obnoxious and inconsiderate as possible. It seems the majority (not entirity) of Chinese people have also made the poor choice, which explains why their society is as it is. The bottom line is that the average Chinese person is utterly selfish

    A few years ago my father applied for an English teaching position in China. They promised him good, clean accomodation and a certain weekly salary. When he arrived at the big Chinese city where he was appointed to work, he was put in a slum of a building. His apartment was rat-infested with no electricity or running water. His employer also did not pay him his promised wage. He was so disgusted with the filth in China (people shitting on the street, etc) and the obnoxious ways of the Chinese people that he went on a bit of a rant and was deported a couple weeks later. The police escorted him to the airport and he was asked not to return. He never has returned and never will.

    We get a lot of tourists coming to South Africa. Because they know NOTHING about how things really are here, they go on about how terrible the white people were to the blacks. Consequently, they polarize the situation and make it like the black people are the most fantastic people, bla bla bla. What they don’t (yet) know is that our black people here are, as a rule, a bunch of savages, which is why we had Apartheid in the first place – to keep the savages away from the civilized people. All you people on this China blog who go on about how fantastic the Chinese are, fail to mention that ONLY A SMALL percentage of Chinese people have class and are civilized. Only animals shit on the pavement. I can understand how a Westerner can fall in love with another culture, because it is so different from ours, but there is no reason to start making RIDICULOUS excuses for filthy, obnoxious, selfish, lazy people, be they Chinese or any other race.

    As for me, I don’t associate with trashy people who have no class or decent manner of being.

      • Most Africans would beg the White people to return to Africa. However inthe case of South Africa, the whites got there at the same time as the Zulu got there, coming from the north.
        However, before throwing stones at others, you should look to you own invasions of Tibet, and the Moslem republics to the west, both invaded, sorry, liberated in 1955; as well as the invasion and suppression of the people of southern China over the last few centuries, not to mention your wars with Vietnam and India in the second half of the 20th century…. But most of that you won’t even find in your history books…

  34. MrMa – although your remark (that I should return to Europe) has nothing to do with China, and is therefore a complete diversion from the China issue that we were discussing, I am going to respond to you simply because I don’t think that statements such as yours should go unchecked. Incidentally, please refer to the response by “russel” below, he knows what he is talking about.

    I find it amazing how colonialism is always blamed for the lack of progress in Africa. Had the white man not reached this continent (and I am referring to the “black” countries and not the Arab ones, such as Egypt) then the majority of Africans would still be living in mud huts and killing each other with sticks and spears – and this would’ve continued for at least the next 10,000 years. Another thing which “gets” me is that those black people who constantly blame colonialism for their problems are the same people who would never dream of returning to their old ways (i.e. living in mud huts, wearing cow skins as clothing, and digging roots out the ground to cook for supper). No, they would rather continue to wear western clothing, eat at fancy western restaurants and drive expensive German cars. However, they will continue to blame colonialism for their race’s shortcomings, and not address the fact that their nation is, on a whole, backward, uncivilized and in need of serious soul-searching.

    The fact that I am “white” has nothing to do with this topic. My views are no less valid because I am white. Unfortunately, “white” has become synonymous with “enemy”. Clearly, people would rather blame others than deal with their own insufficiencies. I would also like to point out to you, MrMa, that there are a couple of countries in Africa that have NEVER been colonized, or which have had only a minimal colonial influence. And, these countries are among the poorest in the world. How is the white man to blame for this? Why is Mozambique reasonably developed? Because the Portuguese had enough time to develop it. Let’s look at Zimbabwe… It is now a COMPLETE DISASTER. Why? Because they have a greedy monkey for a president. It was an exceptionally beautiful and well-run country when Ian Smith was the president. Although I do believe that all human being are equal, there are some basic facts that we can’t ignore. One of them is that the white race is one the world’s most civilized and advanced. That is why the “white”-run countries are the best and most advanced on this planet.

    Russel mentioned that most Africans would beg the white man to return to Africa. He is absolutely correct. I speak to many African, Indian and coloured people and the vast majority of them tell me that they want the whites back in power because white people are fair and they would feel safe in this country. South Africa was a safe place to live in the Apartheid era, but now we have one of the highest violent crime rates in the world. The day the black man took over is the day this country started falling apart. Most black people are fed up with their own nation’s barbaric ways. Apart from barbaric, the black politicians are exceptionally greedy and steal money from the poor people (through fraudulent activities) and don’t give a shit about their own nation. Sad, but true.

    One last thing, MrMa… I would gladly return to Europe if I had a chance, but refugees (mainly from Africa and the middle east) with absolutely no historical link to Europe get preference over me. I have traced my German ancestors right back to the 1700s, but this means nothing to the German government who would rather accept Sierra Leonians into their country to suck dry their social welfare system and bring their crime and corruption with them. It is like throwing pearls to swine. My apologies – it is I who has now diverted from the topic.

    • @ White Guy In South Africa

      You are making some rather sweeping statements there, and perhaps there is an element of truth in it (when applied to a certain demographic in China anyway).

      To give your view some weight however (being a gay liberal is irrelevant), please tell us what credentials you have to make such statements. How long you have lived in China? and how many Chinese have you come to know on at least a semi-personal or professional level?

    • P.S you might find it of note, that over the few years I spent in China more than a few of Chinese acquaintances made it known to me they consider Indians to be dirty and unhygenic… I’d also get a little irate at them for making statements they obviously had no right in making; based on the fact that none of them had been to India, nor knew any Indians personally.

  35. Rusell made a somewhat valid argument. In fact, 2000 more years ago, the Chinese civilization developed from the Yellow River (the very original Han Chinese) with a territory of less than 1/20 of that of today’s China. The vast land southern of the Yangtze River belonged to numerous ethnic groups with civilizations very different from Han Chinese at that time. They were what we call today as Baiyue (“hundreds of ethnic group in the South”). They were invaded by the Han Chinese. Through marriage and migration (both an inflow of Han population to south and forced emigration of Baiyue to north) over centuries, their gene and culture were finally completely assimilated by Han Chinese, without a single person who can claim as a pure Baiyue nowadays. To put this in short, in the 2000 year’s of history, Han Chinese invaded numerous ethnic groups, assimilated their biological gene and culture, and expanded its territory to tens of times of its original size; Han Chinese was also invaded and colonized by other ethnic groups (e.g. the Mongolian, the Manchurian, etc.) whose biological and cultural gene were largely, if not completely, assimilated into the Han Chinese. In this sense, over the past 2000 years, we did “kill” countless “pure” genes and cultures, and now living on “their” land, taken for granted. Regret? Guilty? Apology? Absolutely not. As I said, they do not have “pure” offspring today—they are all Han Chinese.

    In terms of Tibet, I never denied that Tibet was de facto independent whereas de jure part of China during the Republic of China era. It was even more independent than Northern Ireland from the UK in the sense that Tibet had its own military force. The Communist Party sent military force to Tibet immediately after it defeated the Nationalist Party (or Kuomintang, the KMT). Following a brief fight, given that Tibetan military power was not even a fraction of Communist military force, Tibet surrendered conditionally in 1951, not 1955. Whether it was an invasion is controversial: some argue that it was inheritance of the de jure property of Republic of China, whereas others argue it was elimination of a de facto self-governing body. Both make sense. Yet I do not regret this takeover. As a part of People’s Republic of China both de facto and by the constitution, we have the freedom and right to migrate to part of my country. The autonomous greater Tibetan Region solution, proposed by Dalai Lama, although acknowledges Tibet as part of China, denies our right of migration, and therefore is not supported by the majority of Chinese.

  36. It was an assumption that without the white invading Africa, Africans would remain a primitive civilization forever. There is no way to prove or disprove this assumption, as we can not conduct experiments on history as we do on physics.

    I would argue that the white invasion from Europe has caused incurable conflicts within Africa, just like the British caused long lasting conflicts between Israel and the Muslim world, between India and Pakistan. If you look at the map of Africa, you will find a lot of perfectly horizontal or vertical nation’s borders. These are the signs of how the national/tribal borders were unjustly dictated by the white.

    The white intruders were outnumbered by the local African. The strategy they used was to incite conflicts among different local ethnic groups, and to conquer them bit by bit, tribe by tribe. The white-incited conflicts within Africa, followed by the problematic divisions of lands, dictated by the white intruder, are the root for long lasting tribal conflicts that are still ongoing with no sign of ceasing any time soon.

    I still have not mentioned the natural resources that the whites have robbed from the African. This is another huge topic.

    If you despise the general black population so much as to the extent that you actually support apartheid, I would sincerely suggest you try every means to leave their local culture alone and to return to where you belong. Yet you haven’t tried hard enough to return to your real home.

    In terms of the toilet issue, it was rather mixed reasons: tradition, economy and personal choice. In the rural area where filthy toilets are still prevalent, the reasons are economy>tradition>personal choice. There is really not much room for personal choice of class if your income is merely enough for food. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars equivalent on a modern toilet, you dig a hole in the ground with your own hand…

    Traditions that do not conform to humanity, are superstitious in a harmful way, or are unhygienic should be abandoned. A lot of them have already been abandoned. By the way, I support hefty fine against shitting (very rare at least in Beijing) or spitting in public + eviction from the property.

    In terms of economy, there is no Euromillion Jackpot for a country as populated as China. China’s population is equivalent to that of 15 Germany (Germanies ). Now nearly 3 “Germany” are middle class or higher in terms of wealth, whereas the remaining 12 “Germany” are still at the bottom. At lease decades are required for this population equivalent to 15 Germany to develop from absolute poverty during Mao’s rein to a barely-passed-the-threshold first-world country.

  37. MrMa – an assumption? Have you ever actually been to Africa and spent enough time here to figure out how things really work? Look at Zimbabwe, for example. It was built up into a lovely country by the white man, and roughly 30 years later it is falling apart and the people are starving. The only reason the people there haven’t all died of starvation is because of foreign aid and enormous help from South Africa. The Zimbabwe case, like countless others in Africa, proves that Africans are unable to make something work, even if it was given to them in working order.

    You stated that the white invasion from Europe caused incurable conflicts within Africa and mentioned something about the national borders being too straight. Incidentally, I had a look on my world map and found that America has many straight borders between its states, as well as Australia and parts of Europe. The funny thing is, I don’t recall hearing that people from those parts are killing each other off like flies. Let me ask you this – for how long is Africa going to blame colonization for all it’s problems? Africa has had more than enough time (and money in foreign aid) to recover from any remnants of colonization. Africa is still as backward and undeveloped as it is because of the greed of its leaders who don’t care abouts their people. The Aftican tribes were fighting long before the white man came here and will continue to fight for many gene
    rations to come, and that has nothing to do with the white man. It is people like you, who keep making excuses for Africa, that perpetuate the eroneous mindset that colonization is the root of Africa’s problems. While you accuse me of hating Africans, it is actually you and the false ideas that you put forth that prevent Africans from evolving into something better. You, and people like you, are enabling Africa’s dysfunctionality by making excuses for Africa’s problems. Maybe if all the foreign aid was suddenly cut, then Africans would be forced to use their brains and evolve into something better.

    With regard to the British and the muslim world, it is no small coincidence that wherever you find muslims, you also find militance and radical ideology. It is somehow just a part of their “jihad” religion. What doesn’t conform to their primitive, violent religion, must be destroyed. Look at Sri Lanka, Thailand, 9/11, Middle East, etc. It’s always a bunch of radical muslims who cause chaos and destroy the peace. We have plenty of muslims over here too. They may pray 5 times a day and make a big fuss about it, but no sooner have they finished praying do they go back out into the world to rip someone off. Muslims are the way the are because their religion is a relic of the dark ages.

    Foreigners like you just don’t seem to understand Apartheid… It may not have been fair, but it did work. At least people could sleep safely at night. We now have to barricade ourselves in our houses as if it were a prison so that BLACK people won’t break into the house and steal, rape the women, and then kill us all, including the pets. You wouldn’t understand that, because you don’t live with savages. You mentioned muslims… Let me share an Arabic word with you that is found in the Qur’an. The word is “kaffir”, and it basically means “unbeliever”, i.e. one who doesn’t believe in God and follow His ways. People like me call these selected savages kaffirs because that is exactly what they are. They rape, steal, kill and destroy, and have zero regard for human life, including yours. Don’t bother giving me an essay about this being a socio-economic problem. It is savagery, and has been going on in Africa long before the white man ever arrived here. Maybe you should read a bit more about Shaka Zulu and his bunch of savages, and then you will have a better idea.

    We have a saying in South Africa that is uttered by civilized people of every race and colour, and it goes like this: “cleanliness doesn’t cost you anything”. Are you REALLY trying to tell me that the average Chinese person can’t shit IN THE HOLE and flush the “toilet” because of a lack of money? Does a lack of money cause people to allow their kids to piss on the airport floor, or for Chinese people to shit on the pavement? With regard to holes in the ground for toilets – I have no problem with this. In fact, my mother grew up poor on a farm and had a toilet like that. Another strange thing occurred to me – I don’t recall her ever telling me that she found shit smeared on the flooe and piles of shit left by her relatives on the floor. Why is that? Could it be because she and her family were CIVILIZED? Heaven forbid! I wonder what excuse you will now concoct to justify why the Chinese find the need to shit next to the hole and not in the hole as any other rational person would do. If anyone mentions that “it is their culture” again, then I am just going to have to conclude that their culture is backward, filthy and repulsive in the extreme.

    With regard to poverty, let me just say this… The filthiest toilet in the poorest part of South Africa (that has millions of poor people living below the bread line), is at least 10 (if not 20) times cleaner than you AVERAGE Chinese toilet, and I don’t mean the ones that you would find at KFC, McDonalds, or a fancy hotel. Why? Because not even the poorest person here would tolerate filth to that extent (and it’s not like these poor people went to finishing school). In fact, if you’ve been reading your international newspapers, you will have noticed that there have been riots in South Africa over the fact that the toilet facilities in the poor South African townships are unsuitable, and the people refuse to use them. Any “normal”, sane, human being (Chinese people read carefully…) surely wants to use a clean toilet, and therefore will leave the toilet clean after he has used it, in the hopes that it will be left clean for him. Or, are the Chinese just a bunch of spiteful mother-fuckers who go out of their way to make things as unpleasant as possible for their fellow comrades??? Hang on, I think I’ve stumbled onto something profound…

    • Actually, the WORST and lowest class people in the world are ignorant racists like yourself. Reading your posts makes me feel dirty, associating with you and your racist Indian lover will seriously make me puke.

      • I will forgive you for the simple grammatical errors if English is not your first language.

        There is however a certain irony in you attacking his alleged racism while showing your homophobia. But, what are his comments which you regard as racist?

    • @White Guy In South Africa. I have found your posts here rather interesting, “killing each other with sticks and spears” now they are using the WHITE mans fire-arms, far more efficient!. Take away the foreign aid, I could not agree more, far too many one eyed bleeding hearts in the world that can not or will not see what is happening in their own back yard but have the “vision” to interfere with another nations balance of nature.
      Now on to mainland China’s toilets – yes most of the public toilets did not need signs pointing the way, I was able to smell them from some distance – but NOT all were in the same condition. I can understand some of the defensive comments here, but I can not understand how they can be in such denial of the facts. Public toilets in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Fiji and Hong Kong can be just as bad when it comes to stench and cleanliness. I think a common denominator here is the climate / humidity maybe.

  38. You seem to regard the misery caused by white invasion as a minor disturbance, yet fail to see the consequences that last for centuries and cause Africa unable to recover even till today.

    According to Du Bois’s estimation, there were around 15 million slaves shipped from Africa to north America. But this figure does not account for that shipped to Europe/India etc; nor does it take into account the incredible casualty from appalling hygienic condition, starvation and torture during the long journey, or the life loss in the battle for slaves. Considering all these factors, there is an estimation of more than 100 million population loss to Africa from slave trade, equivalent to the population of the whole Africa in 1800.

    The slaves were mainly young male aged between 10-35, young female aged between 10-25, with the number of male slaves double that of female slaves. The mass loss of this group of people means the castration of Africa and permanent destruction of its economic productivity. It takes centuries to recover from the consequence, far from recovery now. To have an idea of the long-term detrimental effect of this unimaginable population loss, take a look at Russia, which lost tens of millions of young male aged between 18-30 during World War II. This mass population loss within a relatively short period of time has consequence that is observable even today (females more than males now in Russia), and has seriously hindered the potential of Russia in becoming the world superpower. However, the loss in Africa following Afro-Europe and Trans-Atlantic slave trade is 100 times worse than that in Russia.

    You also fail to see the once flourished African civilization, the Ashanti. “Prior to European colonization, the Ashanti people developed a large and influential empire in West Africa. The Ashanti later developed the powerful Ashanti Confederacy or Asanteman and became the dominant presence in the region”.

    As a descendant of white invaders who inflicted tremendous pain in Africa, you are not necessarily considered one of the millions of hosts of South Africa, i.e. you are a guest to South Africa. It is outrageous for a guest to praise/demand apartheid in front of the host, no less evil than publicly adoring Hitler in front of Jews. Given this outrageous advocacy and a complete denial of the long-term detrimental effect of white colonization, the current misery you have in South Africa is indeed a debt you have to pay for both you and your ancestor’s devil, and therefore there is not a tiny bit of sympathy arising from me. The only way of salvation is to return to where you belong.

    Let’s go back to the toilet issue. During my 4 years stay in the UK, I rarely pooed in public toilets (no more than 3 times all of which are real emergencies), especially not in pubs or on trains where it is common to see excessive paper blocking the toilet (probably used to cover the seat ring) and pee marks appearing on the edge. These sit toilets, even though apparently clean despite occasional pee mark, have accumulated an incredible amount of obviously invisible germs after being touched by numerous bums. That is what I feel filthy about. I definitely think both sides can benefit from learning each other’s merits: I would suggest that public toilets in the west provide two choices, i.e. sit toilet and squatter. Or even improve the squatter by installing some anti-splash fences. For people who refuse to touch what has been touched by countless bums, a squatter is a must-have choice.

    When I was a kid in the 1980s in Beijing, the housing condition was so congested with an average occupancy of 5 m2 per person. There was simply no room for en-suite toilet. The reality was that the whole street shared a public toilet, with a large number of squatters and a long ditch below connecting all squatters. There was no flush. Everything fell directly into the ditch. Due to the lack of a U-shaped pipe, this kind to toilet was very smelly, infested with mosquito. With the economy growth, these old residences/toilets were demolished bit by bit continually, and now majority of them have moved to building apartments with their own clean toilet (For home toilets, sit ones > squatters. No squatters for new buildings). With the sprouting of star shopping malls, there has been a significant improvement in public toilets.

    My own life experience clearly shows me how economy growth have upgraded ordinary citizen’s home toilet and public toilets, and have improved hygienic conditions in the urban area. I therefore find your conclusion inconsistent with my life experience. It is not possible to change my view based on what I’ve seen and experienced for the past 30 years. Neither is it possible to change your mind. So let’s agree on disagree. Period.

    By the way, the word “comrade” (同志) in Chinese has another meaning: gay. It is bizarre to use this word for daily communication, insulting when using this word against someone you meet for the first time. I also find you astonishingly inferior as a person compared to an average white in Europe, given that you fail to refrain from using the F word or the “Mother F” phrase to target a group of people you have little knowledge of.

    • Invisible germs are in all toilets everywhere, be they in a UK station or Beijing 5 star hotel. This is a mendacious twist of the argument. We are not talking about the odd pee stain. We are talking about the piles of human excrement found in Chinese toilets, sometimes a foot high. We are talking about human urine in pools an inch deep on the floor. We are talking about a smell of uric acid and ammonia that is so strong that it stings your eyes and nose.
      The idea that you can compare that to a urine stain is ridiculous.

      What is interesting is that this is tolerated. It has nothing to do with poverty. I have visited some 60 counties and my job requires me to go to rural areas as well as cities, and I have never seen toilets anywhere that compare to China’s. I know of airports in China where most foreigners would not even be able to enter for the smell. I know of no other airports landing full size jets, anywhere else in the world like that.

      The other interesting aspectof Chinese toilet culture, are the open walled ones, with everyone sitting and defecating in public. I have never seen that anywhere in the world.

  39. MrMa – once again, you have come up with a fantastic text-book explanation for Africa’s problems, with zero personal experience living here and therefore no real knowledge of the African mindset or how things really work here. What you read in the text-books about Africa has nothing to do with reality, just like the image created by China during the Olympics bears no resemblance to everyday life in China. Such deceptions are propaganda. In Durban, South Africa, where I live, it is the same thing. When my city hosts international conferences, the police go around the city picking up all the street kids and locking them in jail until the foreign delegates go home. Also, the city council goes around picking up all the litter on the streets and plants pretty flowers along the sidewalk. It is just to create a good impression, but is far from reality.

    What is reality, and what you have still not once properly acknowledged, is that Chinese toilets are, on average, vile and that they are this way because the average Chinese person using these toilets has little regard for public, and therefore personal hygiene. Almost every person who has made an entry on this blog has concurred with my estimation of Chinese toilets. You have got your head so far in your text-books that you are in a complete state of denial about the state of affairs in your country (judging by your vehement defensiveness, I can only assume that you are Chinese, or have a close association with the country). I hate to point out the obvious, but we can’t all be wrong.

    Another reality is that I am no more responsible for Africa’s apalling state state of affairs, than you are for what has happened in Tibet. Contrary to what you may have read in your text-books and propagandist media reports, let me fill you in…
    During Apartheid:
    1. Only white people paid taxes.
    2. Only white young men had to do compulsory military training.
    3. White people received nothing for free, whereas other races received basically free education and housing and utlities.

    It is the white man’s money that built up the economy and infrastructure of South Africa. And, by the way, the black people of South Africa would not have such opportunities as they do today if the WHITE armed forces had not valiantly defended this country from invaders from north (black invaders from Angola, etc. – shock, horror, could black people really be attacking black people without the white man to blame?). What non-white people like you must do, is realize that you can’t keep blaming other people for your problems. It is immature and unproductive. I think we should just agree to disagree. No hard feelings on my part ;-)

  40. Are you trying to tell me that from your personal experience, that slave trade never happened, that white-incited tribal conflicts never existed, and that all the misery was just an imagination? Or they are purely lies that non-white people have almost unanimously made up to demonize the white Europeans?
    Your personal experience seems so omnipotent that it empowers you to dictate history, a sanitized version where the white are just innocent visitors to Africa, and that overwhelming evidence of slave trade, white-incited tribal conflicts and military conquer are simply disregarded.

    Before I got my undergrad degree in Manchester, UK, my school text books never gave a damn to South Africa or African history. It is therefore extremely arrogant for you to label dissents as propaganda, without even knowing what their text books really look like.

    Your logic is flawed. Pointing out that white Europeans are largely responsible for the nowadays misery of Africa does not contradict with the notion that developments in future can only be achieved by local Africans. Your argument that the African race has its shortcomings by no means rationalizes the slave trade, white-incited conflicts, and military conquer by white Europeans.

    No one invited your ancestors to pay the tax to South Africa instead of to Germany, if he/she really did. Without slave trade, white-inflicted conflicts and military conquers, what the Africa would have been like and what the Ashanti civilization would have developed are open to imaginations, something in the parallel universe.

    • You never answered the question as to how many African countries have you ever visited and for how long a period. Frankly I have the impression that you have never set foot in Africa, and have your opinions learnt from text books.

  41. The whole series of response results from your attack against your fellow African citizens on a racial basis. As a descendant of white invaders and a white superiorist, you seriously need some sober up.

    • It is strange that you find the Chinese invasion of another country, with a totally different ethnic group, with a totally different language so unacceptable when it is White people doing it, in the 16th century onwards, whereas you find the Chinese doing the same acceptable. I would also note that we were already withdrawing just as the Chinese were invading.

  42. It is a pain in the ass talking to someone without logic. You are not even half compared to the White Guy in South Africa in terms of logic.
    Do you seriously suggest that you have to visit Germany to confirm WW2 ever happened; otherwise the existence of WW2 was just hearsay? I’ve never been to Germany, so I am not sure whether WW2 or Hitler ever existed:)
    Since I was born, I’ve never witnessed slave trade by myself. Nether have I witnessed WW1, WW2, Vietnam war etc…I haven’t witnessed more than 99.999% of historical events. On that basis, should I deny all of them?

    The only information source to you seems to be text books, i.e. you don’t seem ever studied by yourself after leaving school. This is typical for an uneducated bigot. However, it is not the case for me. For a well educated person, text books provide a rather limited (or minor) fraction of knowledge in a limited number of disciplines. Extensive reading of various sources of various areas therefore constitutes the major portion of your knowledge base.

    Let me give you an example: the existence of slave trade in mass scale is confirmed by overwhelming evidence from various sources by people with various political stances. A small fraction is given here:
    The suppression of the African Slave-Trade to the United States of America by Du Bois;
    The Atlantic Slave Trade by Klein, Herbert S. and Jacob Klein;
    The impact of the slave trade on Africa by Elikia M’bokolo;
    The Black Diaspora: Five Centuries of the Black Experience Outside Africa by Ronald Segal.

    You mentioned that it was something in the 16th century. This is a misconception. Mass-scale slave trade lasted from the 16th century to the 19th century, with minor occurrence in early 20th century when it finally died out.

    BTW, I am not African. Problems within Africa are not “MY PROBLEMS”. Therefore, the argument “what non-white people like you must do, is realize that you can’t keep blaming other people for YOUR PROBLEMS” by White Guy in South Africa is invalid.

    • “Whether it was an invasion is controversial: some argue that it was inheritance of the de jure property of People’s Republic of China, whereas others argue it was elimination of a de facto self-governing body. Both make sense. Yet I do not regret this takeover. As a part of People’s Republic of China both de facto and by the constitution, we have the freedom and right to migrate to part of my country. The autonomous greater Tibetan Region solution, proposed by Dalai Lama, although acknowledges Tibet as part of China, denies our right of migration, and therefore is not supported by the majority of Chinese.”
      Talking about the invasion as the inheritance of the de jure property of the PRC or as an elimination of the de-facto self governing body is improper. No state or country has the right to inherit or eliminate a government. Also, saying that Tibet was a de jure property of the PRC, it’s not. It was a claim of sovereignty over Tibet, meaning, it was an assumption made by China that Tibet belonged to them. In addition, saying that the arguments regarding the invasion make sense and that you did not regret this takeover? It only makes sense from YOUR POV. Not the POV of the Tibetans or their government in exile.
      You have the freedom and right to migrate to any part of the country BUT Tibet is NOT part of China. That’s also kind of arrogant, isn’t it? Saying that it is YOUR right to migrate to Tibet. Presumably, you would have been able to migrate to Tibet, you just have to go through customs and all that stuff. It’s things that everyone has to go through when they travel overseas.
      “British caused long lasting conflicts between Israel and the Muslim world, between India and Pakistan”
      Actually, no… the British did not cause long lasting conflicts. The reason between the conflicts between Israel and the Muslim world is down to religion. Haven’t you heard about how the Muslims want to wipe Israel off the map? Yes, the British did impose a mandate of Palestine, but it was at the request of Emir Faisal, who, was speaking on behalf of King Hussein. The root of the conflict started because Israel drove the Palestinians out of their country AND the Arab countries expelled the Jews from theirs.
      The conflict of India and Pakistan is likewise, not due to British involvement but because of religion. India is predominantly Hindu, whereas, Pakistan is predominantly Muslim. The conflict is due to the Muslims and the Hindus not getting on with each other. Britain was actually in favour of keeping India and Pakistan united. They sent a Mission in order to try and get a compromise between the predominantly Indian Congress and the Muslim League.
      Calling someone an uneducated bigot is a little too much, considering half of you information is wrong. Russell does have a point. When you set foot in another country, you start to understand things from their perspective. When you read sources, it is usually biased from one perspective to another.
      And the argument “what non-white people like you must do, is realize that you can’t keep blaming other people for YOUR PROBLEMS” He is not saying that you are African, he is talking about the fact that Africans apparently blame the whites for their problems. I don’t know anything about the topic because I haven’t studied it, so, I am not even gonna touch that subject.

  43. Political incorrect could not deny the bitter fact that there is new form of discrimination in south africa, though intentionally or not, it might be exaggerated, by human nature.

    Some say white racists did much worse in the past, no doubt, but could it justify a reversed “lesser” discrimination? Or is that a vengeance taken on the people for what their fathers did?

    I’d rather consider it as overcorrect, just like an old Chinese idiom: 矫枉过正,to overcorrect is to make another mistake. Sadly, that’s what happens repeatedly all over the world recently, including China which has lost it’s proud 中庸 tradition as a cost to catch up the pace of the west in the past century.

  44. Now I have a better understanding of why the Chinese student I host leaves my bathroom looking like a frat house party aftermath and chicken bones in his room for weeks. Ay yi yi!!! So gross…..

  45. Thank you so much! You have no idea how helpful your website has been! I am traveling to china to study abroad and I was terrified of the bathroom situation! Thanks for putting it straight and leaving out the filler! Its odd but I am less nervous reading about the true state of the bathroom situation, even though it is as bad I as it thought it was!!!

  46. The Chinese did not make slaves of anyone, not Tibetans, nor any other minorities. Tibet was conquered and kept, just like the Americas and Australia were conquered and kept. Go fight for the freedom of natives in America and Australia. Otoh, whites have enslaved the entire continent of Africa, robbed them blind, and in the case of Leopold of Belgium, cut off their limbs and hung them from trees. Guess who are the TRUE SAVAGES?

  47. Hey Ericka,

    Interesting post. ADH is clearly a racist shithead, but that doesn’t mean that everything he said was wrong. I’m Chinese-American, currently living in Sichuan…And let’s face it, Chinese hygiene is ass-backwards and the public health standards in this country are deplorable (from food and water safety, to air quality, etc), unforgivably deplorable for a country that houses over 1.3 billion people. A country with so many people really needs to pay better attention to the hygienic habits of its people, and it needs to start from the top-down, or you’re going to end up facing a major pandemic/public health crisis.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with squatting toilets. I agree; they actually can be cleaner than sit-down toilets (splashing happens with western toilets too)…If they’re cleaned regularly. I’ve seen some extremely nice squatting toilets that can kick the asses of western toilets. But what about the rest of the bathroom culture? When you go to wipe your ass, I’m sorry, I don’t care how careful you are, but if you shit, you really should wash your hands. I work in a biology lab and people don’t shut the door/wash their hands here. If the BIOLOGISTS of this country don’t wash their hands, the chances of other people washing their hands is pretty slim. Would you want the people preparing your food to not wash their hands? Yeah. Exactly.

    So please don’t say that something is just “cultural”. It’s really not “cultural” to have subpar hygienic conditions: People really shouldn’t spit in the street (do it in the trashcan!) or litter; kids should NOT be peeing in the street (that’s just ASKING for contamination); people should sneeze into their shoulders instead of just blasting everyone else on the bus or subway. This isn’t cultural; these are just things that prevent SARS from being spread. Getting rid of squatting toilets and replacing them with western toilets isn’t the solution because squatting toilets aren’t the problem. Bad hygienic habits are the problem.

    • Megan

      I agree with most of what you are saying. And, as you say, there’s nothing wrong with squat toilets – they were common in Europe 30 years ago. I am not sure though how they are when you have an ageing population and millions of 80 year olds.

      The point I would take issue with you though is saying it is not cultural. What else is it if not cultural? It’s certainly not genetic. It is a fact that the Chinese are culturally dirty; not only in public toilets, but also their homes are generally not over clean either. The reason for it is probably because it’s the 91st poorest country in the world (GNP per capita). However, you only have to go on an intercontinental flight full of Chinese and within a few hours all the planes toilets are destroyed, so it’s not just poverty. The Chinese haven’t been taught basic hygiene. A part of it as well is the Chinese don’t believe in the bacteria – virus model of disease. They largely believe that illness is something akin to voodoo or changes in the wind direction, bad luck etc. This being the case – why would you wash your hands or not spit all over everyone?

  48. Well I am a white guys marrying a chinese girl and ended up with divorce. And here I would like to talk about my feelings about those chinese girls. First I must say that many chinese girls are pretty. And most chinese girl want a exotic boyfriend ESPECIALLY you are a white guy from developed country. XD But they are a little bit mean. They always told me that chinese men have many disadvantages… but the fact is that i do have some friends who are chinese men and they really do not have those disadvantages like those chinese girls told me. Also my sister was always told that “chinese men have small penis” by many chinese girls. However, the interesting thing is: my sister’s ex-boyfriend is chinese and he is good at bed… Some of her friends have asian boyfriends from other countries and they also said asian man are good at bed. In short, I think chinese girls do not really love me but only want a white guy. that is why they are insulting asian men even not hesitate to lie! and I have to say it is so mean… The other thing is — many chinese girls do not value the equality between spouses: After married they will require you to “BEAR ME WITH PLEASURE AND SINCERE EVEN IF I AM WRONG COZ YOU LOVE ME” (just like BEFORE getting married with you they did not think anything is your fault even if you did something wrong) After married, they always said “if you love me, you must do that” which is so silly — SHE did something wrong, I should be blamed instead? Finally they do not pay attention to privacy and never trust — she checked my text messages and email everyday “for me” LOL Finally I would wish you good luck if you want to be married with a chinese girl…

  49. I lived in Japan for many years and I used squat toilets all the time in schools, in the workplace, in public buildings, and in people’s houses. They were generally very clean and I felt quite happy and safe using them. Many public toilets have both “western-style” and “asian-style” cubicles and really I didn’t mind using either. The squat style toilets are seen as a bit old-fashioned but some think they are cleaner because you don’t come into contact with anything. Of course any toilet needs to be cleaned regularly and have soap and water, otherwise it will become a breeding ground for bacteria and infection. Europeans learned that over 300 years ago…

  50. Touching the lock is not the most unhigenic part. Its wiping yourself and spreading fecal material all over the place because you didn’t wash your hands properly. E.coli bacteria can live on surfaces for a long time. Then it gets into the food supply. Chinese bathrooms do not offer soup or toilet paper most of the time. Its just ignorance.

  51. Hi. In Australia over the last couple of years the public toilet and shopping centres now have no doors to open when entering. There are doors on the private cubicle. I have always tried to never touch any handles or taps etc around toilets. On my three stays in China the toilets were of poor standards but again there was no necessity to touch handles etc.

  52. Chinese bathrooms are just plain disgusting. They all smell extremely foul and you will always find a puddle of pee in front of the urinal. A lot of Chinese will also take the opportunity to smoke in a public bathroom and the combination of smoke and urine can make anyone want to puke.

    During one of my travels to China, I witnessed a woman cutting up a chicken on a cutting board about 3 feet from the entrance to a public bathroom.

    • The reason for the woman cutting up the meat near the toilet is that the Chinese, thanks to their overwhelming belief in Chinese “medicine”, for the most part do not believe in the germ-virus model of disease. Disease is caused by imbalance in the ‘humours’, not small animals and particles that cannot be seen.

  53. I don’t know any woman who actually sits on the Western toilet seat. I don’t. I squat, but I don’t have to squat all the wayyy dowwwwn. It’s easier on my knees and I flush the toilet with my feet. xD I don’t mind the squatting toilets so much, really. There are times when I’m in the women’s restroom and there would be GROWN women in a hurry end up peeing in the sinks. Oh my.

  54. Pingback: Avoiding squatters? You're doing it wrong - Lost Laowai

  55. This is an interesting discussion that rages on long after the article was published. Well, here are my 2 cents.

    The “hole in the ground” model is not what bothers me. It’s the lack of soap and towels. I experienced this just recently at an international mathematics conference at the North University of China in Taiyuan, Shanxi. No soap, no towels, not in the library, in the restaurants toilets, anywhere. The same in Pingyao, where we had an organized trip. Say what you will about 5000 years of civilization, this is not acceptable. I also don’t get the “no touch” theory, you *have* to touch something.

    (Oh, the faces of some Japanese and Koreans…)

  56. I came to this post because I was trying to find a description of the most ingenuous toilet system I has ever seen. It was in a train station, maybe in Beijing, maybe in western China, I really can’t remember. The women’s stalls were all lined up, just like in the US, but didn’t have doors and were all oriented sideways, meaning you didn’t face where the door might have been, you faced the stall to the left of you. Instead if a toilet, with a seat, there was a tiled river bank with flushed water running at timed intervals. The user stepped one foot on the far side and squatted. It was deep enough and with a strong enough current that it wouldn’t have splashed water on you, but you might have had to see someone’s solid waste go by. It was cool, but I’m not sure it saved water or anything. maybe so, considering the line was never ending.

    The main thing is that outside of the US, people experiment with different toilet designs. No two work the same. But here, it’s the same design, even when the users are so filthy that something different might work better.

    That said, I do have to share my ‘worst’ story. It was in China. And the reason it was so bad was that it was an area of high poverty and zero infrastructure. So I’m not making fun of China, or it’s people, I’m just sharing a story:

    I was in the taklamakan desert, just about where the river stops going south. Of course I had to pee, right? Long journey. I told my professor, thinking that he would let me walk off until I could find a discrete place, but he directed me to a cinder block windowless building built over a *huge* pit of waste, with a rickety wooden bridge that led to a rickety wooden platform that you are supposed to hang your butt over. Thank goodness I only had to pee. I don’t know where the village of people were, the place looked so deserted, but clealy an army of people were using the place, and I suddenly felt so upset for them. And I felt so spoiled by my attitude. I was determined to get it done, but twice the smell drove me out. I tried so hard to get passed it, but the large scary drop into the pit terrified me more then the smell made me gag. Finally I went around the outside and used the entire structure as a privacy screen. I have been in some scary bathrooms, and i’ve managed them all, but that one i couldnt do. My guess would be that when it got too bad, residents build another one down the way. i dont think it was bad because of what country it was in though. I’ve heard some frightening burning man bathroom stories, so the US is no different given some rural crowding.

  57. I seen chinese who have been stopped in traffic…get out of their car and take a crap on the road. Chinese people are fundamentally pigs.

  58. I’m not really sure where the information came from that ‘there are studies that prove that washing hands in cold water actually increases the risk of infection.’ In fact, the opposite is true, there are no studies that suggest that washing hands in warm water is more effective than washing in cold so long as soap or other cleansing agent (even cooking oil) is used and the hands are fully rinsed and dried. Indeed, water at above ambient temperature can even promote the growth of bacteria and some viruses. Water temperature is a moot issue, washing hands is not.

  59. Pingback: Öffentliche Toiletten im Reich der Mitte: Ein Schweizer Unternehmer bringt den Chinesen das Wasser sparen bei | Nina Trentmann

  60. Thanks a lot for this! I kept wondering, how on earth do they maintain bathroom hygiene? Makes perfect sense now.

    Got my own embarrassing Chinese bathroom story… Soon after I got to Beijing for the first time, I went #2 in a public toilet, not realizing that the flush power in the squatties is quite weak. I was facing the wrong way so I’d aimed for the back, away from the hole, and no matter how many times I tried, it was not gonna flush–but I had to leave the stall eventually.

    As I’m washing my hands a girl in a waitress uniform goes in after me–and immediately turns around and FREAKS OUT, bouncing from one leg to the other and speaking really fast in a high-pitched voice to her friends, like she’d just found a dead body in there. WTF!

  61. I guess there are no handicapped or really old people who can’t use the squat toilet in China? Do they just stay home???

  62. Pingback: How the meaning of “quality” differs between the U.S., Japan, Korea, and China | RocketNews24

  63. I just booked a 12 day trip to China but after reading all these comments I am starting to regret making plans. Visiting China was always on my “bucket list”. I will be 68 yrs old by the time I reach there so I guess I better take an inflatable toilet seat or disposable toilet seat cover or hope #2 beckons only when I am in my hotel. lol

    • Profile photo of Ryan

      That’s awesome that you’ve decided to make the trip. Visiting China isn’t without its challenges, but don’t let the glut of comments here dissuade you. Unless you’re actively looking to get off the beaten track, you will probably be fine. My advice though is to keep your diet as regular as possible and utilize hotel bathrooms as much as you can. In the long-term, getting comfortable with a squat toilet is smart, but for a short visit, there’s no point — it can only add to the anxiety of travel.

      Be mindful of the things you’re eating and drinking. There’s nothing worse than being stuck out away from a clean comfy toilet AND having emergency need of one. Street food in China is not to be missed, but try your best to stick with reputable (or at least well-visited) spots. Chinese have a habit of avoiding restaurants that don’t have a lot of people in them — not always accurate, but in aggregate, for good reason. And never, ever, leave the hotel without toilet paper or napkins. My habit used to be just to grab whatever was left on the hotel roll before leaving in the morning, take out the cardboard roll and stick the paper in a small plastic bag.

  64. HaHaHa this article is funny. I have been to China4 times now since marring my wife in 2011. I must say here in Chongqing, there are plenty of squatters compared to the sitters and I am somewhat use to them. I should clarify that I am still a newbie when it comes to the squat because unless you 1)squat when using a toilet at a young age, 2)have studied yoga or a martial art that allows you to be very flexible, you will have a hell of a hard time balancing without some external handicap assistance bar to keep your balance. Especially if you happen to be overweight prepare for some discomfort at the least and pain at the worst, when squatting in an unfamiliar position until you get your business done.

    The idea of carrying portable toilet paper is a good idea. I have made too much that mistake my first time in China to assume that a public bathroom would have paper. Imagine being the only one in a public bathroom and having no way to get your message to the outside world of your predicament? Plus they are also very handy to have when one has a cold and you need to blow your nose or just wipe hot chili oil after a night of eating hotpot.

  65. Pingback: Squatting In Shanghai | Shoutout To Shanghai

  66. Pingback: Travel Adventures: The Poop on China – And the Pee

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