Cultural Experience: The Squatty-Potty


Long before my arrival in China I received warnings but even with those warnings, I was unprepared for my first experience of using a Squatty Potty! Now I will tell you I am from the mountains of North Carolina, have done my share of relieving myself in the woods or on a camping trip. Somehow, though I have this preconceived idea that a restroom ought to contain a toilet that I can sit comfortably upon, not requiring the balancing skills I have picked up in yoga classes .

So here is the situation….in China when one is out and about, even in airports, often the existence of a Western Toilet (which as an American, I have always taken for granted) is hard to find. Of course in hotels Western Toilets are plentiful and the norm.

The Squatty Potty is basically a hole in the floor with gridded sides for placing the feet. To use the potty one must squat after carefully dropping your pants, making sure they do not get splashed as you are relieving yourself; rarely did I find toilet tissue in any squatty potty, so it was necessary to always carry some with me.
The ideal squatty potty is a clean one…if I had come across one that had a previous user’s markings, I would have left and gone into another stall.

It is a good idea to have a friend hold your belongings as often there is no hook to hang anything on…While you are in the squatting position, it will be necessary to balance yourself so not to fall sideways or backwards while you complete your task. The hardest part the first time for me was standing back up gracefully! Once you are again standing upright, hopefully you will be fortunate to have a lever to push with your foot to flush; sometimes you will have to use water provided in a bucket with a ladle like gadget to add to the potty for flushing.

Lastly , after you have mastered the squatty potty, try not to think about all the germs that have touched that door to the stall, as you exit and begin washing your hands until they are raw. Of course, it would be great if you remembered your hand sanitizer!

As much as I complained about the Chinese Squatty Potty, I really liked it for it seems much more natural than the Western Toilet. Now back home, I do miss utilizing Squatty Potty skills that really are instinctual! Perhaps I will go into the woods soon……

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