Saturday, November 06, 2004
Cleaning up China's Potties for the Olympics
As any foreigner visiting or living in China would say, it's about time.
Toilet Summit Puts Stinky Restrooms in Focus
Fri Nov 5,11:15 AM ET Oddly Enough - ReutersI'm glad something like the Olympics has come along to draw official attention to the condition of bathrooms in the Emperor's city and hopefully the rest of China. Certainly one of the most pungent culture shocks greeting a westerner who comes to China to live or visit is the toilets...unless a visitor puddle-jumps from one western style hotel to another. Using "squatters," even those which flush, is an, uh, learning curve. Even when bathrooms are regularly maintained, it is difficult to keep them sanitary with old and faulty plumbing. Toilet paper, when used, is not supposed to be flushed, but put in an uncovered wastebasket, where the overflowing collection of it greets the customer. Toilet paper is often not supplied in the stalls, so everyone carries little packets of tissue with them so they don't get caught without.
In America the health codes require a restaurant employee to wash their hands with hot water and soap after using the w.c. In China, if there is a sink for hand-washing in the w.c. there is no hot water although since the SARS outbreak, I do find that more bathrooms offer soap.
China can deploy a virtual army of workers to quickly master the task of cleaning up and modernizing public toilets. It will be a much better place to visit and live afterwards. As of now, the typical urban Chinese toilet is about on a par with a foul barroom john in America. I've always wondered why this wasn't more of a development priority. Beijing is a wonderful city to visit or live in, despite the pollution and traffic. I'm looking forward to updated clean bathrooms.
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.
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