NOTE: for everyone still awaiting news of where I’m moving, I’m still waiting for some official paperwork before I can make a formal announcement. Please bear with me — and in the meantime, please enjoy this blog post. 🙂
One of these days, my husband and I will eventually have our own home. Sometimes we like to talk about it. And when we do, occasionally the conversation turns to the bathroom.
Now, I’m not of those home improvement TV fanatics who already has her dream house mapped out down to the shower tiles and the faucets. But I can tell you there’s one non-negotiable for our future dream bathroom or bathrooms.
There must be a sitting toilet for me, and a squat toilet for Jun.
That might sound like a “wild and crazy” combination for one bathroom. But if you visit the average public toilet in the Hangzhou region of China, where my husband is from, there’s nothing wild and crazy about it.
Your typical public bathroom here in the city includes a mix of squat toilets and sitting toilets. Usually three out of four of the toilets, if not more, are squatters. But you’ll always find at least one or two sitting toilets for people who want them.
No matter where he is, my husband will almost always prefer a squat toilet. That’s the toilet style he grew up with.
But ask me what toilet I would prefer and I’ll say, “It depends.” At home, I always want a sitting toilet. Outside the house, however, I prefer squatters, thank you.
In my pre-China American life, squat toilets did not exist. I was raised on the sitting toilets you’ll find all across America in homes and public toilets everywhere. The closest I ever came to something different was the dry toilets we called “pit potties” that I would use in state and national parks. But even those had a seat just like the sitting flush toilets I used everywhere else.
Of course, when I signed on to come to China I soon learned I would face a new kind of toilet – the squat toilet. Like many Westerners unaccustomed to crouching down to do my business, I felt a twinge of anxiety over this new toilet I would face in China. Would my legs be up to the challenge? I never would have admitted it to anyone, but I secretly worried I might actually face the danger of “falling in,” something you would never want to happen with any public toilet.
Coming to China was like total toilet immersion. Except for my own apartment (which thankfully had a sitting toilet), squatters were everywhere: at work, the gym, and the apartment that belonged to my boyfriend at the time. Yes, even spending the night at his place meant squatting down.
As it turns out, when you’re given only one option for relieving yourself and you really, really need to go, you adjust pretty quickly. Even if it means wobbling about as you’re crouching over a squatter on the train. (Thank goodness for those handles on the wall.)
I also discovered something else over time: I appreciated the squat toilets. Yes, whenever I was in a public bathroom and presented the option to squat, I felt grateful that I could crouch down instead of sitting down.
You might be asking, “Why would someone raised on a sitting toilet actually prefer squat toilets in public places?”
Because with squat toilets, your behind doesn’t touch anything. You hover safely above the toilet with zero contact.
Even though studies have largely debunked the myth of dirty toilet seats, what woman hasn’t come to a public bathroom to find the occasional pool of urine or worse on the seat or front of the pot? I don’t know about you, but I find it enormously relieving to have my butt spared these issues in China.
It makes me wish squat toilets were available in America’s public restrooms.
For now, though, I’m grateful I live in China. This is a country that offers me the comfort of a sitting toilet in private, and the relief of having a squat toilet in public restrooms.
It’s also a country where one American wife and her Chinese husband can envision a dream home with a sitting toilet and a squat toilet in the same bathroom.