Friday, October 21, 2011

The Squatty Potty

Squatty Potty

Ladies and Gentlemen - You asked for it.  Or at least some of you did.  "What were the bathrooms like?" is one of the most common questions I've had about the China trip.  ;-)  So here it is, a squat pot of typical form.  Actually, this one would score quite well on the rating scale that we developed on the trip.  It gets high marks for cleanliness, has TP in the stall (tho you can't see it), and flushes.  Plus there was a sink with soap for hand washing.  All around a luxury bathroom experience, relatively speaking.  We saw many that were not as nice, and some that were downright scary...but we persevered!

Here's the deal - these are not as hard to use as it might first seem.  In fact, many would argue that the benefits of this type of toilet far outweigh our Western style.  I remain unconvinced, but I'm a product of that West.  My travel mates and I observed that when given a chance, the Asian women always chose the squat pot over the sit style.  Read more about squatty potties here, including the benefits.

If you've never had the pleasure, here are some tips.  I welcome yours, as well!
  1. Roll up pants before entering stall.  (The floors are often wet from flushing over-spray.)
  2. Get used to an aroma and deal with it.  Just deal with it.
  3. Always have tissue on your person, in your pocket is best in case you leave your bag with a friend.  Most Chinese public rest rooms do not have TP.
  4. Hand sanitizer and/or wipes are invaluable.  When packing, leave behind clothing to make room for these.  They are not easily found in China, so bring plenty.
  5. There are a few techniques that can be put to use to navigate the squat pot.  Google it.
  6. Privacy means something very different in China.  When you've really got to go, and all that's available is a communal (no stall) situation, use it.  Again, just deal with it.  No one is watching you; they're all trying to be as discreet as possible.
  7. Laugh.
Since I've already started down this path...here's another cultural bathroom experience exchange.  First, imagine the setting:  Korean airport after flying for 12 hours overnight and NOT SLEEPING.  This is hanging on the wall in the bathroom stall.  MJ and I both emerge from the stalls with the giggles.  What exactly is this?

Feeling brave, I go back in and push the button.  It makes a sound like a flushing toilet.  I'll let you figure out the rest.  Indeed!

OK, this may be my most off-topic post on this tea blog yet...but not to fear, I'll tie it together.  When on a tea tour and drinking as much tea as possible, one must frequent the bathroom.  There you have it.  Happy weekend!

Do you have a squatty potty story to share?

10 comments:

Marmalady said...

Too funny, Steph! Laughing! The worst squatty potty I ever saw was in France of all places. It was a public bathroom and filthy. But when you gotta go, you gotta go.

Colleen said...

Great story! Puts the humor on what was a trying experience...

Esmerelda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Esmerelda said...

I asked our tour guide about squatty potties in homes, and she said most people have western style toilets in their homes, but in public no one wanted to sit where others had put their butts. They thought it was disgusting.

If I had grown up squatting--no doubt it would be easy to do at my age, but I gotta say that trying to sit and stand again from a squatting position for me was virtually impossible.

I had to hang onto something.

Teafan said...

That etiquette bell is a riot!

Irina said...

Funny, my brother and sister in law just came back from China and this was the main subject in our conversation!
I don't even sit on a western public toilet! or I start putting paper all around if I know I'll have to spend a bit longer...
The worse toilets I've seen (squatty ones) have been in France and Tunis, and in Tunisia you must bring your own TP because they don't use it at all, they have hoses instead!

massagematters said...

Wow! I'm proud of you for persevering!! I can't help but laugh a bit....and I love the "fake flushing" button. :)

Angela McRae said...

Truly, this is one of the most enlightening posts I have ever read in blog land, a great guide to "Tea-Tea and Travels." (Can I say that here?)

And "Etiquette bell" — what a *terrific* name!

Cindy said...

Great post Steph. I remember traveling through France with a group of Australians who thought I was insane to bring hand sanitizer...until one awful toilet stop. After that they were asking where they could get some!

I love the etiquette bell. I can only imagine how surreal that must've seemed while jet lagged - I'm proud of you for pushing it. I'm not sure I would have. LOL

Mara said...

I do have a piece of advice to add...from personal experience in Beijing...secure your sunglasses (and other personal articles) before using the squatty potty. Hanging your sunglasses over your shirt (with one arm against your skin on the inside of the shirt, and the other arm and glasses outside your shirt)DOES NOT secure them properly.