The Thunder Bucket

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March 2nd 2008
Published: March 2nd 2008
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China takes the thunder bucket to a whole new level. The thunder arrived so long ago (and has lingered so long, having never been flushed down) that all you can do is get in and out as fast as you can. Just heeding the basic call of nature can be fickle business (pun intended) in China. Some of the bathrooms I've used in China make the Ole' 3 Snow Hill St Thunder Closet look like luxurious spa. By far the worst I've ever encountered have been in Tibet, which almost lets you forgive the Han invasion as long as they just provide some proper shitters for these poor people. The scary part is that I'm not even really phased by it any more! God knows where that 3 mao you pay per use goes, cause it's certainly not for plumbing or cleaning. And you can forget about toilet paper, hot water in the sinks, paper towels and especially privacy. That money probably just goes to pay the salary of the person collecting the money...hey, I guess you gotta get creative to reach full employment.

Without giving you a physics or anatomy lesson, I can say I've actually come to appreciate what the squat toilet brings to the table. Not only do you not have to touch anything, but you're in and out in 2 minutes instead of 45. Chinese people for the life of them can't figure out why anyone would ever sit down to go to the bathroom. As kids, their toilet training consists of baby pants with a hole down the middle so parents can squat their kid on the street when it's time. As they grow up, this training becomes habit and you get a culture that doesn't bat an eye at the sight of a grown man taking a piss in the middle of the street (I can confirm this to be true from experience - maybe this helped me blend in and not stick out as a laowai for once). The establishments catering to a mixed Chinese/foreigner crowd are in a particularly tricky situation. Do they offer sitters that constantly break from all the Chinese girls squatting on them? or do they offer squats and piss off the foreigners? These are by far the most important questions Modern China is grappling with in their transformation into world player.

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3rd March 2008

Mark, funny and enlightening. And to think, I was about to start complaining about having to throw the paper in a wastebasket vice in the toilet. Makes me appreciate what I have more. How is the bike planning coming?

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