Today I heard a story from a friend in Xi’an about former President Clinton visiting Xi’an a few years ago. He brought two portable toilets from the US on his trip.
This was the first time I heard about such a thing. But considering the situation with the public restrooms in China, it was not surprising for me.
I think for all the foreign visitors to China, using the public restrooms could be one of the most challenging things to overcome during their whole visit in China.
Public restrooms in China used to be dirty, smelly and disgusting, some still are, even though it’s getting better now.
A lot of the buildings for public restrooms look very nice and artistic from the outside, but the condition inside still needs to be improved.
For foreign visitors, it could be a very unpleasant experience the first time they use a public toilet in China.
Most public toilets are squat toilets.
In 2005 when my daughter visited China, she asked me: "Mom, did someone stole the toilet?" She didn’t find the toilet seat, only saw a whole in the ground.
On the first few days during this trip, my daughter said: "It smells bad." Now she is used to it.
There is no toilet paper in most public restrooms, so people should be prepared to bring their own paper when they are on the road. There used to be someone in public restrooms selling papers. Now I don’t see people selling papers in public restrooms anymore.
There are a lot of KFC and McDonald’s in China. They do provide toilet papers in their restrooms, like most restaurants.
Airports and hotel rooms all have nice and clean seated toilets and papers.
I just want to share this information with you in case you visit China some day, so you have been warned and can be mentally prepared for a surprising experience.
I hope in a few years this wouldn’t be a problem any more.
But for now, it is a problem, unless you have the status and power of the president who can bring his own toilet whereever he goes.
Now I am just wondering what other presidents, kings and queens do when they visit China. Do they bring their own things as well?