China the Difficult #1 Toilets

Published by Priscilla Haring-Kuipers on

China is usually perceived as difficult by Europeans: communication is impossible, constant daily hassles, unyielding culture and far too many people. We are here to experience the truth of it. If there is any prejudice in particular you would like us to check out – let us know.

Squat toilets – not just in China – are often disturbing to LaoWai. However, next time you want to scream ‘backward idiots’ and ‘underdeveloped’ at the smell of a public Chinese toilet consider the other perspective. On a squat toilet your ass hangs out in the air while you do your business – on a Western toilet your bare butt is comfortably seated where everybody else’s bare butt has sat down as well. Now how disgusting must that seem to a Chinese person?


From the smell and the maintenance of the average toilet it seems that in China the toilet is a dirty place and this is not a problem. You remain clean – the place is dirty – no problems. Meaning the toilet is a place where you do your thing and get out as fast as you can (maintaining cleanliness). LaoWais have made our toilets into little ‘quiet places’ that are usually heavily decorated – we spend some quality time with our excrements. Weird, huh?

Old Chinese wisdom and research agree that squatting is preferred over sitting as a pooping posture. The smelly hole in the ground is actually better for the health of your bowels.

Now the only question I have left is Paper or Water? The drainage system is not made for large wads of paper. Every stall – if you are lucky enough to have a stall around you – has a waste basket for your dirty toilet paper. Which might be one of the main causes for the horrible smell. In other countries where they have squat toilets everywhere they usually don’t have toilet paper but cleanse themselves with water. Is the paper usage some sort of halfway station? Are the Chinese secretly cleaning themselves with water? The research continues…