One of the biggest shocks when it comes to traveling in China is the feral state of their squat toilets. Not only do you have to get used to doing your business in the squatting position but you also need to remember not to flush your toilet paper away!
I first discovered the wonders of the dreaded Squat Toilet in my younger years living in Malaysia, and although it was not the best experience, it was still an experience for me to learn from.
* Always carry around toilet paper, hygiene wipes or tissue paper (some public toilets will sell packets of tissue at the door)
* Always have 20sen ready so you can pay to gain entry into the smelly public toilets
* Bring a friend, Malaysian toilets are notorious for having bad things happen to helpless women on their own
* If you are wearing pants or jeans, it is a necessity to roll them up prior to entering
* Expect to be greeted with wet, dirty floors
* If you get a seated toilet, be aware that many Malaysians will still squat on those seats
* Beware of your neighbours. The person next door may decide that the cubical needed a quick rinse... or at least, that's what I hope that water was....
* High heels/stiletto shoes are not advisable unless you are experienced
Prior to China I had always believed that I had already experienced the worst that I could experience (in regards to squat toilets), there could be no way in this lifetime that people could live in a country with public toilets worse than Malaysia. I was, of course, completely naive and obviously not using my head.
The worst public toilet I've ever encountered was in China's rural region. The good thing is that the toilets aren't difficult to locate, you just need to follow your nose. There are however, a lot of bad things to note about rural public toilets.
1. The stench is enough to make you faint
2. There is no toilet paper
3. There is no toilet flush (their flush is actually someone throwing water down the trench at the end of the day)
4. There is no toilet seat (no western toilet!)
5. There is no toilet hole (no squat toilet!)
6. There is no toilet door
7. There is a waist-high toilet wall dividing each 'cubical'
8. There is a foot deep little trench to do your business
9. There is a waste-basket for used toilet paper and sanitary products (if you're unlucky, you might not even have this)
10. There might be someone's #2 waiting to greet you
11. There will likely be many naked bottoms and other bits to greet you
China sure knows how to bring their people together.
Here are some things you may want to consider in preparation for the worst toilet experience in China (and some other countries)
* Never travel without toilet paper, hygiene wipes or tissue paper
* Some nice public toilets have a toilet roll near the entrance
* A face mask doused in perfume/cologne may help with your trip to the toilet
* Always look for a 4 or 5 star hotel, or a newly built hotel to use their lobby toilet
* An umbrella is a useful tool to hide your ass from fellow toilet users if there is no door
* Always use the toilet at hotels even if you don't need to, you never know when your next toilet break is or how much worse the toilet may be.
* If you are lucky enough to get a squat toilet, face away from the hole (I was never sure why but a friend told me that #2 will go straight down that way. But I've still encountered evidence of people facing the wrong direction and #2 was obviously not flushed away)
* Never flush the toilet paper down as you will clog the pipe! (more on this later)
No matter how many times I use those squat toilets and how often I hear how hygienic it is compared to western toilets, I will always prefer western toilets! The fact is, not everyone knows how to use a squat toilet properly and I know there is a larger percentage of people who miss when it comes to squatting.
Now on to the importance of NOT flushing the toilet paper down the pipes!
I never really followed this advice until I stayed in the Beijing student dorms when I studied there. As a result of not obeying the rules, I had to go without a toilet for up to 24hrs on several occasions. The toilet actually clogged up a couple of times even though I didn't flush toilet paper!
It's not a proven fact but rumour has it that the waste from the top floor dorm rooms drain down to ground floor, so you will likely have more clogged-toilet problems at the lower level dorms. I know for a fact that some of my friends staying on the ground floor of the dorm building had the worst smelling toilets even after they had bleached the whole room...
Just Don't Do It!
Don't flush toilet paper down those pipes!! Think about the poor Chinese people whose job is to unclog the mess you make, and just be grateful that the toilet can even flush!