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gwr71

Is the toilets in China really bad?

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gwr71

I have just read a CNN article about the toilets in China.  I have not been to China as yet but I never thought about the state of the (public) toilets in China.  What have been your experiences with using toilets in China? What advise would you have for persons like me who will visit China in 2018?

Are the toilets flushed ones?

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Jim

Depends very much where you are of course. I've had everything from a plank over a pigsty to some very fancy marble-clad efforts in big hotels. Mostly been in Beijing where the public toilets can be a bit rough and ready at times but do get a mop a few times a day. In the shopping malls and so on they're usually fine but like anywhere you're at the mercy of the previous user. Might have to steel yourself for restaurants etc out in the sticks. Took the daughter to pee in a village eatery last night and it was a bit grim.

Anywhere at all urban will have a flush these days I'd say though I'm sure you could find a pit if you wanted on an expedition out west or somewhere else remote.

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vellocet

Eh, you will notice that the Western media likes to obsess over things like this.  You'd think that worldly journalists could find better things to write about, but nope.  Yes of course the toilets flush.  Yes of course you will avoid using public toilets whenever possible, just like you would back home.  On the plus side, public toilets in China aren't used by junkies to shoot up so they've got that going for them.  

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dtcamero

IMHO, for a country that likes to bill itself as quickly entering the first world, even in 'first-tier' chinese cities the toilets situation is appalling.

of course every country has appalling public toilets, but in china they are beyond the pale. i know chinese girls that refuse to eat when they travel domestically in order to avoid having to use a toilet all day.

india is probably a close parallel... but has much greater poverty. hard to say why it's so gross, but i suppose the public toilet is the lowest common denominator of any society really, and all of china's progress seems to have been made at bringing up the top 10%, while the lower 1/3rd of society is still where it was 100 years ago.

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somethingfunny

I agree with Vellocet.  Good luck even finding a public toilet in a UK city centre.  At least that should cheer you up gwr71.

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DavyJonesLocker

In the big cities they are ok. Just go to a shopping center . The better the shopping center, the  better the condition. They are moped every hour or so in Beijing. In the villages, public parks, roadside stations they can be  pretty grim but it's in and out as fast as you can .

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somethingfunny

Ironically, the toilet going experience can be more hygienic as no body parts come into contact with surfaces that may not be clean, and you bring your own (again, clean) toilet paper.

 

Hand washing is not so good though. 

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abcdefg

Seems to me they have improved a lot in the last 5 or 6 years. Some are still awful. 

 

Still, always bring your own toilet paper. Plan on wiping your hands on your pants after washing them. No paper towels and the electric hand driers seldom work well enough to be worth the trouble.

 

One place I've noticed lots of improvement is in airport toilets. And the toilets on trains are usually not as grim as they were a few years ago.

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studychinese

Horrific in places. In Shenzhen they were alright. In Beijing you could be in a high class mall filled with expensive brand shops, and if you go to the rest room it's like entering the third world. When I was in Beijing there was an American female foreign student that refused to go from Wudaokou across town to Sanlitun because she might have to go to the toilet, and since we were still fresh we had diarrhea all the time, which made it a definite problem. 

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AaronUK

You should be aware to always carry packets of tissues with you wherever you go as there will be no toilet paper. And maybe alchohol gel for your hands. I thought the availability of toilets was not so bad compared to uk when I visited, but since Asians are capable of the ‘asian squat’(https://youtu.be/ibzp-bFBu_Y) for long period of time they are able to use no seat toilets easier. Non Asians probably need to stand more and do some awkward shuffling to protect our clothes.

 

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somethingfunny

You either practice ahead of time, so that you can do the squat.

 

Or you make a mental note every time you come across a public toilet with a disabled toilet in it.

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imron
4 hours ago, somethingfunny said:

Good luck even finding a public toilet in a UK city centre.

Just look for the Golden Arches.

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vellocet

In all my years in China, I have never seen the fabled toilet paper-less bathroom.  I thought I saw it once, but a lady was behind a desk selling tissue packets for 5 mao.  Now, it might be out of toilet paper, or the paper there might not be to your liking, or you might not be able to flush the paper.  

 

Something I've noticed is there are just people out there who are just obsessed with their poo and place an unhealthily high priority on it.  My ex-coworker used to exit our office toilet and proclaim what kind of bowel movement he had and its consistency.  Our toilet was spotless because he made a huge fuss about the cleaner cleaning it, even staying in to teach her how he liked it done.  

 

If a place has a nasty squatty (a lot of places use the 'your ass never touches the seat' as an excuse to have truly horrid and malodorous sanitary conditions) I have been known to catch a taxi to the nearest 3 or 4 star hotel.  Or 5 star, if it's not too far a drive.  Guaranteed to have a decent sit-down toilet in the lobby or second floor somewhere.  It's no fun assuming the murderously uncomfortable position to squat, and anything that's in your pockets falls out on the totally gross floor.  

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imron
11 minutes ago, vellocet said:

I have never seen the fabled toilet paper-less bathroom

Count yourself lucky.  You only have to encounter it once to then take toilet paper with you everywhere you go.

 

12 minutes ago, vellocet said:

and anything that's in your pockets falls out on the totally gross floo

I mostly prefer squat toilets in China, and I don't even mind being in the squat position for extended lengths of time, but securing your belongings before squatting is definitely one of those things you learn quickly and hopefully not the hard way (had a friend who lost a mobile phone down the squatter).

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dtcamero

also a few more thoughts...

 

1. actually more than sanitary conditions the thing that bothers me the most is how they always reek like stale cigarette smoke. after living in a city where smoking is illegal indoors, sitting in a tiny room where x-thousand cigs have been smoked is properly disgusting. people living in china are exposed to smoke frequently and probably used to this.

 

2. japanese public bathrooms also frequently don't give you anything to dry your hands with. therefore everyone carries with them a small folded bolt of cloth called a tenigui. it's actually great and I use it wherever I go... truly surprised that this hasn't caught on at all in china. it's soft and nicer for drying your hands than paper, and it just dries quickly in your pocket or wherever after use.

 

3. once time I was a fancy restaurant's private room in beijing with some 领导s and their pretty female friends who were ostensibly there as semi-pro singers to sing karaoke. the room was quite lavish had it's own private bathroom, where I was waiting to go in after one of the girls. after this gorgeous creature comes out I go into the bathroom and find the toilet seat up, to my great surprise.

now we've been having a discussion in the states for a couple years now about accommodating certain gender-bending bathroom situations, but this really threw me for a loop. this 'girl' was stunning!

turns out she was a girl actually, lol. my friend later explained that chinese girls are often afraid of touching their skin to even very clean toilet seats, and she had raised the seat so that she could squat on the narrow porcelain rim in 5cm high heels. this had me then distracted all night imagining her super relaxed sitting on such a dangerous perch, as well as all the potential misfalls that could accompany it. 

it also reminded me of all the signs showing you how to use a western toilet... which we westerners often laugh at. well there's a good reason for those signs apparently.

Squatting-vs-sitting.png

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Lu
1 hour ago, vellocet said:

In all my years in China, I have never seen the fabled toilet paper-less bathroom.

In all my years in China I've occasionally come across a bathroom with toilet paper. I'm not talking about the ones in nice hotels of course, but toilets in universities, restaurants, hutongs, shopping malls (usually nasty) and such: paperless. Sometimes there is a place where the roll would go, but that is always empty.

 

I agree with others, if the toilet is not clean I prefer squat toilets over sit-down ones. I suppose I'm lucky that squatting has always been easy for me (some weird muscle thing, I'm stiff as a board otherwise), but even if not I think I would have learned. If you consider that all that touches the ground is the underside of your shoes, the toilet situation in China isn't all that bad.

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DavyJonesLocker
1 hour ago, Lu said:

suppose I'm lucky that squatting has always been easy for me

 

Only when you come to china do you realise ankle flexibility is actually important haha

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vellocet

Yeah, you're lucky girls raise the seat before squatting.  I've had to replace about five toilet seats because they keep standing on them and breaking the plastic.  :wall It's particularly prone to happen at one of my parties when I have a lot of people over.  Once I had just replaced the seat like, the day before.  :evil:  80 yuan every time and I have to call a repairman.  I think I'm going to print and stick that sign to the underside of the lid next time. 

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imron
9 hours ago, vellocet said:

I think I'm going to print and stick that sign to the underside of the lid next time. 

You'll probably have more luck just getting a squatter installed :mrgreen:

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Flickserve
11 hours ago, dtcamero said:

turns out she was a girl actually, lol. my friend later explained that chinese girls are often afraid of touching their skin to even very clean toilet seats, and she had raised the seat so that she could squat on the narrow porcelain rim in 5cm high heels. this had me then distracted all night imagining her super relaxed sitting on such a dangerous perch, as well as all the potential misfalls that could accompany it. 

 

 

This is going to make a great topic to practice Chinese in my next italki session. 

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