Okay, so this entire blog post is extremely crude and not very polite or discreet. But, it is hard to think about moving to China without confronting one of my hugest fears. Yes, my friends, Chinese toilets. This is a true story -- China apparently gets so much feedback about their poor toilet facilities from Western tourists that they have instituted a star rating system for the toilets inside of Beijing. There are now some 3 or 4 star facilities located at major tourist hotspots. What does it mean to use a 4-star toilet? As far as I can tell, it means that they have an actual toilet that you sit on. Sometimes there is even toilet paper there and a place to wash hands. So, that might beg the question as to what the rest of the toilets in China look like? Well, you squat over a sort of trench. The pic shows a sort of best case scenario for this type of toilet, in that it looks very clean and there is some type of privacy divider. This model doesn't actually look too bad once you master the squatting position. While wrapped in layers of clothing since it is like 20 degrees in Beijing in the winter. Oh, and this toilet is empty and not filled to the gills with people like an actual toilet will be since Beijing has like 19 million people.
An actual conversation with Chris when out and about on the Washington mall today went like this.
Me: Um, let's stop at the castle so I can use the toilet before we get on the metro. Chris: Really? Again? Didn't you just go at the art museum? Me: Yes, but I drank a bunch of iced tea. Chris: Um, okay. You know, it is probably good if you restrict your liquid intake while out and about in China. He then proceeded to make up this really great chant that went "I've Peed in London, I've Peed in France, but I'll pee in my pants before I pee here." He wants to note that he attributes that to the Boy Scouts. It is not an original saying.
Well, that might be workable if I just don't drink anything at all. Not sure how reasonable that is on a long-term basis. We have all kinds of grandiose dreams of taking the minivan out and about and seeing lots of China. Gotta get to Mongolia somehow. In other words, I will have to avail myself of Chinese toilet facilities. A lot. Well, since I am very capable of making a mountain out of a mole hill, I turned to my trusty, sweet calm friend who just returned from a tour in Beijing with her two young girls. My friend A is always positive, always calm, always sweet and upbeat about everything Chinese. She is calm about the poor air quality, calm about the lack of free access to the internet, calm about the crazy traffic, calm about the cold weather. She will surely have something positive and uplifting to say about Chinese toilet facilities, right? She actually looked a bit horrified when I mentioned the toilets and finally said that they were unfortunate, but that if we had to go badly enough it won't matter so much. Then mentioned that sometimes her kids chose to just go outside the bathroom instead of using the ones provided in China. Hardly the reassurance I was looking for.
Anyways, I'm now somewhat resigned to my fate. I mean, we are moving to Beijing -- yay! The toilets are a minor blip on the radar. That said, I am once again, quite envious of the male members of my family. I mean, how much easier is that???!