Public restrooms in China

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?  


Climbing Mount Hua

Hua Shan (Mount Hua) is located 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of the city of Xi’an in Shaanxi Province. Today I went from Xi’an to Hua Shan on a high speed train that can reach 350 km an hour. It was a 40 minute smooth ride, my first ride on a high speed train.

Unlike a regular train that is usually very crowded, a high speed train has seats for every passenger.    

Hua Shan is considered one of the most dangerous mountains for climbing in China. If you google it, you can find a lot of interesting pictures.

I went up to the North Peak, the lowest of five peaks with an elevation of 1615 meters. I got from bottom to the North Peak in about an hour. It was a short cut.

First I took a bus that went zigzag up the mountain and brought tourists to the cable car station. Then the cable car took me much higher to the mountain. Finally I had to walk on very narrow steps to the North Peak.

Climbing Hua Shan requires a strong will and a lot of courage. I didn’t have the time to climb the other peaks today, even if I had enough courage. Maybe next time when I visit Xi’an again.

Today’s round trip from Xi’an to Hua Shan and back to Xi’an took only about seven hours. People say you need three days to really climb all the peaks in Hua Shan.