Posted by: 1of10boyz | February 24, 2013

The essence of “doody”

I am reminded of a “Friends” episode when I use the term “doody”. Think it was Ross that had a costume he called “spudnik”, a geek’s attempt at humor with a word play of the Russian satellite and my favorite Idaho tuber. Joey recognizes Ross’ potato costume for what it really looks like and applauds him for coming as doody. A cute prime-time play on a word that isn’t allowed to be spoken on American TV, which considering what we do hear on American TV doesn’t speak very highly of the censorship on TV. It is called a lot of things but it is a bodily function that can cause a bit of stress for the traveler in this part of the world.

There are some huge differences between the standards and expectations related to the water closet, restroom, bathroom, toilet, 卫生间- wei2 sheng1 jian3, or whatever you might be used to calling it where you are at and what we experience here in China. So where to begin in contrasting the whole dynamic of “taking care of business”?

I guess I should start off by sharing that I was shocked by the differences between China and my not quite typical experiences in America. I grew up like any other kid living in Wyoming, the Wild West. I never gave it a second thought as a kid to take care of business when the need arose, where the need arose. I wandered as a kid throughout a 3 square mile area that had at most 50 people there when everyone was home. I didn’t really have to worry about someone seeing me do what were natural body functions, but I would say that I was discrete about the whole thing even when I knew no one was around. I knew that you just didn’t “whip it out” or squat just any old place. I spent time at my extended families’ homes that still required the use of outdoor facilities, I camped and hiked as a Boy Scout; so I know what smells to expect when the “facilities” get hot in the summer. I spent many years on a submarine where “blowing sanitary tanks” was a job I was glad I wasn’t trained for. None of those experiences prepared me for the conditions in China.

So let’s talk about the differences that are most immediately obvious.

As they say in real estate, location, location, location the same is true for my first difference. Maybe it is because there probably isn’t ANYWHERE in this country that has as few as 13 people per square mile or maybe it is because the people here are used to being so close together that personal “space” is nonexistent, but there isn’t a location that appears to be inappropriate to take care of “business” here. I have seen men lined up along the edge of the street, next to bushes, and by the side of the road in the country, in the city standing at the bus stop or on the sidewalk and even next to National and World Heritage sites with the “golden arch” streaming away. I have seen girls squat in my front yard and kids being held by mothers and grandmothers inside “temples” going into the garbage can (I will save my discussion on split pants for another topic but the those pants are DESIGNED for “readiness”). I have yet to see or hear about a bad or wrong location here.

The next difference should be the identified as the “what’s provided category”. It is quite uncommon to find a facility that provides the “user” of the facility with the necessary “paperwork” to be successful. If you don’t bring it yourself it is quite probable that you will need to resort to some very unusual methods to “ensure cleanliness”. I remember stories from my parents and aunts and uncles about the days before the white rolls of paper we take for granted today. The debates of which kind of newsprint or catalog was the best were funny at the time because it was so foreign, yet here I am now thankful that paper companies package tissues in 20 packs so that I have something to use in “emergency” situations. I know that there are other places where it is worse than it is here, paper is preferred here as best as I can tell. There are locations where left-handedness is absolutely not acceptable because that hand is used for “sanitary” purposes and is not “worthy” of other functions.

Throne – There is a huge difference between the thrones of the non-western world and the western world. I always assumed that a throne was meant to sit on. In the west that is true; everywhere else it is squatted upon. I am once again happy that I grew up with the experience of sitting down to do my doody instead of squatting. The squatting toilet is just not comfortable. I find that squatting to do the business is not effective, maybe it is just me.

Convenience – It is not convenient to use a squatter. Even on a western throne stuff occasionally falls out of our pockets but a squatter puts your pockets at an angle where stuff falls out all of the time. I know a friend that spends his spare time in the US looking for old outhouse holes just so he can dig a hole next to them and explore the hole. Most of these old holes are more than a hundred years old and he is looking for the bottles and other stuff that was either thrown into or dropped into them. Most of the stuff we carry around in our pockets today we aren’t willing to do without, passports, cell phones, wallets, keys. When we use a squatter that stuff and it falls out of our pocket it is going where we don’t want it to, into the hole, and retrieval is a nasty but necessary option.

Wiping and Flushing – The squatter doesn’t accept paper. Something about the size of the plumbing and paper, nothing goes in it but #1 and #2. In every squatter application you will find a waste basket. That basket is for you paperwork. It is best not to think about the paperwork and just put it in the basket without looking. I don’t like thinking about most of the time, but used paperwork doesn’t belong in a basket. Flushing can be an adventure and in some cases the plumbing isn’t provided. You may have to use a hose or a bucket of water.

Smell – Probably the worst part of the whole experience is smell. Of course, smell also relates to cleanliness and both are not pretty and not nice. There are lots of ways to describe the smell but lets just say that they smell worse the warmer it is outside. Latrines in the woods smell better than the average “busy” restroom in China. In most cases, when the smell is bad and the cleanliness is bad, you wouldn’t want to let a part of you touch it anyway.

Maybe, the squatter isn’t so bad after all given the conditions that most of them exist under. Maybe, just maybe, there is a reason in this part of the world and so many others that the squatter is used. I am just glad that in those cases I am just visiting.

Use a Squatter



  1. Even when there is a western toilet provide over here in China. I still have to squat over it. Because the chinese will stand on it. So the seat is really gross and you don’t dare sit on it.

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