I know a lady is not supposed to bring up bodily functions in polite society, but I have to be true to my (dirty, disgusting and uncouth) self and write about what I see here.

And what I do see is an incredible obsession with public toilets. They are virtually everywhere. I swear that when you go hiking and climb up to the top of the hill, that’s what you’ll see. A shop there might be not, nor a restaurant – but I guarantee there will be a facility for relieving yourself*.

Far from complaining about it, I’m rather grateful (Mother Nature has a way of calling unexpectedly) and also impressed with the cleanliness of the establishments. I mean, I’ve heard scary stories about Chinese toilets, that I have – and the ones here are actually very nice (just make sure you always, always have tissues with you. Toilet paper does not seem to be on the menu, except in restaurants. …Oh dear. The pun – I promise you! – was absolutely unintended!). In this respect I feel very blessed that I’ve been sent to Hangzhou, the tourist capital of China. They really do make an effort to keep things clean here.

That said, I have a tiny little bone to pick. The squat toilets. The nemesis of hygiene. No, I don’t have a problem with the phenomenon as such. You get used to them pretty quickly. Obviously nipping off for a nice relaxing read in the loo is out of the question, but on the other hand it’s supposed to be better for your bowels this way. What I do take issue with, however, is the lack of proper hangers inside. I mean, yes, they clean them like every half an hour, but sometimes a minute is all you need, so come on – with just a hole in the ground obviously there’s going to be a major problem with aiming. Maybe gentlemen have it easier (though judging by the apparent difficulties they have with aiming into a normal toilet, I’d be very much surprised), but us girls – not that simple!

So for the love of everything that’s good and pure: please, install a real hanger inside the cubicle so I don’t have to put my bag on the floor! No, not a plastic towel hanger fixed with glue – even my scarf is too heave for these fellas. A real hanger, I beg you!

Humph. Anyway. Hangers might not be high on the Chinese priority list, but appearances certainly are. So if you’re buying a phone, buy an IPhone. If you’re buying a car, buy a Maserati. And if you’re building a public toilet…

…make it a five-star one.


*Having that in mind, it’s rather surprising to see all those guys answering the call of nature in public. But there’s no accounting for taste.