Only if you’ve lived in China, will you be able to truly appreciate the provision of toilet paper in public restrooms. Honestly, this took some getting used to, but I have reached the point where now I never enter any restroom without toilet paper/ tissues in hand. There’s no doubt about it, without fail, there will NEVER be toilet paper!! Don’t even try to “take a chance”!
Fortunately, three years in South Korea partially prepared me for this. Over there, paper would almost always be provided, but it would be located OUTSIDE of the stalls. So that meant that you had to get used to taking paper before you went into the cubicle! Forgetting always sucked! Back then, I thought that situation was bad, but China is a completely different ballgame. Here there is simply NO toilet paper! NONE. Nada. No vending machine with tissues, tampons, or pads. NOTHING! Seriously people… They could at least provide something you could pay for. I’m completely over trying to figure it out though, so even Justin knows the drill before we leave the house, “Keys, money, cell phone, camera… and tissues. Alright, we are ready to go.”
Now I won’t even get into the fact that besides there being no toilet paper, there is also the fact that you have to use a squat toilet. And that this said squat toilet may, or may not, have a door. Or the fact that the restrooms smell like a sewerage dump. Let me not get into the finer (disgusting) details of public restrooms in China. No, that is not what I am here to share with you this afternoon. Instead, today I want to tell you a funny thing that happened to me in a park restroom in Beijing.
So this (above) is basically what an normal Chinese public restroom looks like. Ordinarily, I tiptoe in… afraid that a rat will scurry towards my feet at any second. I have my tissues in hand already because, let’s face it, when you are squatting down – trying not to pee on your shoes, or let your bag/ pants/ long hair touch the filthy ground – the last thing you want to try and do is fumble around in your handbag for tissues. For this reason, I prepare myself before I even get into the cubicle. Next I slowly peer around each corner. SLOWLY because, more often than not, someone could be in there… door open… taking a big old poop. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, even when there are working doors, some people here don’t feel the need to keep there business secret!
Once I get into one of theses stalls – if it’s not covered in poop or pee – I have to check that the lock works. Trust me, no working lock means that someone WILL try to barge into your stall. They hardly ever knock or try to open the door slowly. They mostly just storm into that stall, not caring what you are doing in there. Since I’m a foreigner, they will even stop to stare at me for a few awkward seconds while I try to decide what to let go off (my hair, my handbag, or my tissues) in order to try close the door. Yes… This is a complicated affair, so I NEVER take a stall that doesn’t have a working lock!
Once inside.. well, I do my business and then leave as quickly as possible!
Okay, so I take you back to story I am here to tell you about: While in my stall, taking a pee, I hear two old ladies enter the restrooms. They each go into the two available stalls next to mine. One had a door, the other had a door but it didn’t lock. As has happened to me many times in China, I hear them both squat down and start grunting and pushing into between their continued conversation. Well… I don’t know about any of you, but even my bestest of friends would not be next to me (and hearing me “grunt”) as I take a dump!!!
Trying to get out of there as soon as possible, I hurry out of my stall, wanting nothing more than to leave this awkward situation. As I open my door, and turn to leave… Some one hits my hand, and then tries grabs it, while shouting something to me in Mandarin. I look over and the old lady in the stall next to mine is crouched over doing her “bidniz” but she now realises that she needs a tissue. All I want to do is run away, but her friend then exits the next stall and I’m kind of “trapped” in there. So I reach into my bag (trying not to look at either of them), and hand her all the tissues that I have. And then I quickly squeeze passed the second lady, who has then moved over to the door of the stall where her friend is squatting down. As I leave, I hear them chatting away while the old lady is finishing. Is it just me, or are these things NOT to be shared between friends?!?!
As I left the restrooms I had to laugh at how odd this whole situation was.
Did that lady not think about needing toilet paper before going in there to take a dump? And why would she ask me, a stranger, instead of her friend? Even worse, what if she was alone in there? What then? Oh my word. I think about these crazy things because in all honesty, I am faced with these ridiculous situations almost all the time.