We all use it first thing in the morning and multiple times throughout the day. Some use it more than others. Some are great at holding it in for hours rarely having to use it. Some will never use a public one but the toilet is one thing that we frequently use. Why on earth am I writing about toilets? Well I must say that I have developed a significant aversion to them since moving to this vast, interesting land.
I've never loved public toilets or toilets that are anything other than the ones at someone else's home or in my own home. From the time I was tall enough to 'hover' above a toilet seat (other than ones in homes) I did. Rarely will I ever sit. Something that I am sure you all needed to know about me. Sorry for sharing, maybe it is time you stopped reading this particular post. It may make you uncomfortable.
On the school trips I used to do around Australia we would stop the bus about every three hours. I learnt to time my water consumption with each stop. Year in and year out we stopped at the same 'Rest Stops' so I knew whether to take tissues with me or not. Whether just to hold it and wait for a full 6 hours as it was not a toilet that could ever warrant hovering, it was just so revolting or whether it was the stainless steal seat and bowl combination that when it was -5C outside meant there was usually frost on the seat and to warn the girls not to sit "just hover ladies and make it quick!" I was always first in. Selfish? Yes. But I'd rather believe I was in a toilet where I was the first in rather than after 35 others and completely neglect the hundreds since it's last cleaning. Delusional I agree.
Pit toilets, long drops or whatever it is that you like to call them... Well there are certain ones that have burnt into my memory via my nostrils. I have seen too many and frankly I would rather just dig a hole and go in the bush.
I am a mostly well hydrated individual. The first thing I do each morning is drink 500mL of water. It gets the kidneys functioning and aids rehydration after 8 hours of sleep, it aids digestion as the water is quickly absorbed. It is good for my well being so whilst I really want to be slugging down a coffee I hit the water instead. Then breakfast.
I am also a really sweaty person (thanks to genetics) and an active person so as I am walking in the summer heat, I am sweating buckets and drinking buckets of water to ensure I don't get dehydrated. This also means I usually have to visit public toilets. This is where the real story begins. The toilets of China...
My 'Oh that is different' factor was tweaked on my flight from Sydney to Shanghai. The flight passengers were majority Chinese males. (One child policy deficit rearing it's head possibly?) The toilet floor was wet. Not just a '200 people flicking the water from their hands after they have been washed' wet. But genuinely running onto the floor outside wet. So was the seat. Like I said, no sitting just hovering. Aiming is clearly not a priority for some... Ok most.
As a maxi dress/ skirt lover, I wear them. On our local bar street I have had to visit the ladies on occasion. Due to the limited space within these establishments there are dual gender bathroom. Boys and girls use the same one. I have no issue with this as a principal. It is what it is. I have no issue with it in Australia or Europe either. I do have an issue with the care taken by others whilst in this tiny private space.
The other night, in what I would consider a more upmarket Japanese restaurant, I took advantage of the amenities and as I walked in I hastily grabbed up my skirt into bundles in my arms. I hitched the skirt up under my arm pits contorting like an acrobat to ensure that none of the floor length chiffon dusted the wet surface, I tried to hover, wobbled but regained my composure. I felt I had pulled off my acrobatics maneuvers well, alas, not fast enough with my contorting and soon discovered, as the chiffon brushed against my ankles, that it was wet. Cringing and using the internal mantra "it's just water, it's just water!" I returned to the table. I was one female amongst 7 males. I was instantly aggravated that they didn't have to go through the same torment, and as I feel it is, torture, each time they visit the bathroom. Always questioning why the floors are so wet in this country. Believe me when I say it is not because they are being hosed out after each use.
In Beijing there were public toilets everywhere. They serve a dual purpose. They are for the tourists and visitors to the area and they are also for the people who live in the Hutongs. As these structures are several hundred years old the plumbing is either
B) Easily blocked by toilet paper and therefore better for the residents to use the publicly supplied ones. I respect that. Europe and parts of the USA have the same plumbing issues.
The toilets though are different. They are squatters. Now, unlike many of my westernised female counterparts I love squatters! Reason? You don't have to touch anything! Nothing! You go in without a toilet seat to hover above or put 30,000 layers of paper over. You don't have to push a button to flush. Have you ever considered the volume and type of germs on a toilet flushing button? If it is a flushing squatter you hit a foot peddle. No hands just feet. If it is super fancy it flushes automatically. If it is rural you need to dump a bucket of water to flush. Now the modern ones have splash shield. Yes a shield. Chinese people think of everything and I appreciate this no end! No end!
Navigating a squatter on a train however, is a difficult and a somewhat risky venture. As the train sways you have to sway with it to ensure... Well you get what I mean. It is like a Zumba class, just down on your haunches. Fun? No?
Then there are the toilets at the gym I have started at. I walk 4km there and by that stage I have drunk over a litre of water for the morning and need to use the bathroom. I try not to and keep telling myself, "It's ok CJ you will sweat it out and therefor not need to go, hold on tight, no sudden moves." Physiologically impossible but mind over matter. Why, you may wonder? Gym bathrooms are usually lovely. And these are too. They are clean and if you go to the loo at the end on the left is usually never used and still has the cleaners seal on it. Brilliant!
So why is it that I hate to go? Naked. Ladies. Yep! Naked ladies everywhere. I am not one of those people who like to get around in the buff and the thought of anyone seeing me naked absolutely devastates me. It doesn't seem to be a problem at this gym for anyone! I have seen more T&A at this gym in the past month on my way to the loo than I have ever seen in my entire life. To make matters worse when they see a 5"10 figure walking in they turn to stare at me. No shame, no towel, just stare. So as I have bounced in rocking out to Sia (that's a singer and if you don't own her new album you need to, it's fantastic!) I cop an eyeful of... Well everything. Let me tell you there is not a lot of lady-scaping or waxing going on amongst the women at this gym. Avoid at all costs or if I can't avoid, eyes closed, look down and walk fast!
Can you see the torture I must endure? Phew! Thanks for the understanding and letting me get this topic off my chest. And just to let you know I have discovered a trail of perfectly clean, spotless, beautifully fragranced public toilets all over Shanghai, in case any of you visit.