The one thing I absolutely loathe about China is the lack of Western toilets. Those hole-in-the-ground-you-have-to-pee-by-squatting apparatuses make me cringe every time. I’m a girl — how am I supposed to pee that way?! So when my roommates and I decided to trek westward for fall break, towards rural Yunnan and Sichuan, I had to put on a brave face and come to terms with the fact that I’d be using nothing but “squatties.”
Five hours into the bumpy bus ride and two bottles of water later, I was bursting with thoughts of shiny automatic-flush toilets and marble sinks. Alas, what greeted me at the makeshift rest stop was an outhouse made out of mud and three little children asking for a 50 cents fee for using their “bathroom.”
I hurriedly deposited the coins into their eagerly awaiting palms before standing in line behind my fellow travelers. I held my breath in anticipation of the stench that will inevitably waft up my nostrils. When it was my turn to step behind the tiny cloth drape that doubled as the door, I realized why there was a such a long line to begin with; there were 3 ditches lined up next to one another, with the teeniest of mud walls to separate each one.
We, being Westerners, have an innate sense of privacy that non-Westerners don’t recognize. The shame of seeing each other with our pants down forced us to go in one at a time, while the locals watched us curiously and asked each other in Chinese “How come they can’t see that there are 3 stalls in there?!”
As I squatted down, I realized that these ditches were more advanced than I thought. They were carefully dug so that it slanted down towards the holes in the outhouse wall, where everything will inevitably end up. I didn’t dare to walk around the area to find out.
But the silver lining of this experience? I realized that peeing outdoors in the open air is TEN TIMES better than peeing indoors with bad plumbing. Oh, and about 2 hours after that bathroom incident, we had the chance to see a panoramic view of Lugu Lake.