16 October, 2016


Let's talk toilets.

The W.C., to most of the world.
The loo.
The throne.
The John.
The porcelain princess.

The crapper.

At my school
Before moving to Beijing, we heard horror stories that their toilets were basically holes in the ground. When we looked at apartments, we found that was not so. However, the (ubiquitous) public toilets are that way. No worries! I'll just go at home!

A week or so ago, we found a high tech department store - imagine all your appliances, on Techno-steroids. The perfect, single glass pane, giant TV, high powered phone gadgets, kitchen appliances, and fancy TOILET seats! Want your seat warmed? Want a splash of water on your hind-quarters? If you can read the Chinese characters on the control, you can have it!

Our own toilet is not one of those. But it is also not a hole in the ground. We were happy with it. Until our crapper crapped out on us two nights ago.

We plunged, and the water level seemed to diminish.

Next morning, one flush and it rose again. Dangerously. So we called our building manager. Well... we sent him a message on the Chinese app we use that includes translation. 

Fortunately, today was a day off for me, so I could stay home and wait for someone to come. But I had to pee! Fortunately, public toilets are everywhere in this city. Unfortunately, they are the afore-mentioned, sunk-into-the-floor toilets, which I cannot use without fear of splashing all over myself! I got to a point where I had to use the one on our corner.

It wasn't awful! Maybe it was just the relief because I needed to pee SO BADLY, but really, you bring your own toilet paper, do your thing, wipe, throw away in the bin (kinda gross), and flush by tapping a foot-pedal. It was painless, and now I can pee whenever I need to.

But not at home for one day.

In the western world, we take our plumbing and subsequent sewage systems for granted. It is assumed that toilets will flush. If not, it is trusted that a plumber will take care of the issue while respecting the property.

Shortly after Brett returned from work, a plumber arrived. He had already made a huge mess in the bathroom (where I had stupidly left the mop for quick access) before he disconnected the toilet and flooded even more. Ultimately, he cleared the clog and re-caulked the toilet into place, leaving us with two pieces of advice:

1. Don't use the toilet for at least one day (for the caulking to set).
This mess. It stinks.

He also left a humongous mess that I will be up late trying to clean - because I refuse to stand in it, so can only mop as far as I can reach, then wait for that part to dry.

The picture doesn't do the mess justice. It is behind the toilet, jammed up under the washing machine. Just gross. And stinky. 

Oh, and the shower is just built into the end of the bathroom, no tub. So on the one hand, the grossness is in the shower. On the other hand, I can just push it all down that drain!

At the end of the day... we will now have to take down the trash every morning and every evening - maybe more often - because I refuse to leave stinky toilet paper sitting around. I have my standards!


  1. I remember those floor toilets when we visited Vietnam years ago. Awful. I was never able to go in them. I don't understand why they have them. I cannot even begin to imagine not flushing toilet paper. It must not dissolve like the papers we have in the states. I love your posts about the differences in our countries!! Have a wonderful Wednesday.

    1. I read somewhere that when they visit the US, they find it gross that people sit on public toilet seats that may have been used by anyone! It's all in your perspective. I still prefer my sit-down toilet.

  2. We Westerners are so spoiled. Just generations ago, my great grandmother would simply pee in the field she was working in. Now poo had to make it to the out house. There were still outhouses about when I was a kid. I thought they were so lucky. We had indoor plumbing.
    Sorry about the mess, it is not the sort I like to clean either. Tissue in the garbage, I would carry that out on a regular basis too.

    1. I didn't mention that they don't use goose-neck pipes, either, so the bathroom already kind of smelled, because the goose-neck is what keeps the smell down.
      So keeping used toilet paper for a day isn't ... Well, I don't like it, but we're getting used to it.


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