Clean toilets for the Games?
Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
632Trip End Dec 31, 2011
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For some reason, not many things can go down a Chinese toilet. For starters, you can't flush toilet paper down there. And due to bad plumbing most other things don't go away. You would think that if you just increased the pipe size, the Chinese sewage system might be able to cope. But then, how often have you seen a waste water treatment plant in China? OK, you've been to a beach . . .
Another thing visitors might find unusual about toilets. First, they are hard to find. There's not many around. Whereas most shops in the West might have a toilet for staff and customer use, in China you have to go searching
Another surprise - you might have to pay. Sure, it is only 5 mao or 1 yuan (about 15c), but this might seem odd. Particularly when you encounter two other things:
the toilets, even ones you pay to use, aren't very clean. Or maybe they've never been cleaned. I always feel somewhat aggrieved by this: forking out money and finding the place is disgusting. Maybe Chinese don't do toilet well.
One more thing. You might expect there to be toilet paper in you loo? Wrong. Only in fancy hotels will you find toilet paper.
One solution, pioneer by a friend last year, is to have constipation. However, after a week or so you might grow weak. Or limit your stay to a few days in China (new visa policy is helping with this).
Anyway, for your reading pleasure, here's a story from the China Daily claiming 'stink is history as public toilets get ready for Games'. Of course, many foreigners are visiting China, not for the Olympics, but to use the most excellent toilets. It will surely be a highlight of your stay, along with reading the most-useful signs in English, breathing the fresh clear air, and of course, encountering helpful, friendly service at department stores.
I like this line from the story: public toilets reflect the living and hygiene standards of a society. And how the survey found many foreigners were afraid of entering a public toilet.
As well as the 5,000-odd public toilets, there are also side streets, alleyways, lanes - and if you are under 10, the street in broad daylight - where you can relieve yourself.
Here's the story:
Lester Blake is happy, but not for any breakthrough in his engineering profession. His source of happiness is a clean and tidy public toilet, with an automatic hand drier, soap, and, most important of all, toilet paper.
"When I first came to Beijing in 2000, the biggest problem for me was not finding tissue paper in public toilets quite different from what it is in Germany and many other Western countries," the 40-plus German said on Thursday.
The Beijing municipal government has improved the capital's public facilities vastly, thanks to the preparations for the Olympic Games.
And now about 1,700 public toilets in downtown areas and tourist sites, and more than 2,400 in and around the Games venues will provide free toilet paper and liquid soap, Guo Weidong, a Beijing municipal administration commission spokesman, said.
The arrangement, to continue throughout the Olympics and Paralympics, is part of a three-year campaign that began in 2005 to renovate and modernize Beijing's 5,333 public toilets for the Games.
Many of the public lavatories now have Western-style flushing toilets to meet the needs of foreigners, the physically challenged and the elderly, he said.
And about 8,000 workers have been trained to keep the public toilets clean and dry. After all, "public toilets reflect the living and hygiene standards of a society", Guo said.
"Beijing is working hard to make every public toilet a pleasant experience for the millions who visit the city for the Games," Yu Debin, deputy director of the Beijing tourism bureau, said.
Recalling his earlier horrifying experience, Blake says: "In 2000, I had to take a deep breath before dashing into a public toilet hold my breath with my head held high (no double entendre) never look down (to avoid the stink and the filthy floor) and then dash out All in less than a minute."
A Beijing tourism bureau survey in 1994 showed that more than 60 percent foreign visitors were afraid of entering the city's public toilets.
All that has thankfully changed.
Wang Fangde, 68, who lives in one of Beijing's traditional siheyuan (houses with courtyards), is another man happy with that change. "A decade ago I could tell where roughly a public lavatory was because of the stink it hit you even from 20 meters."
And Wang has a wish: "I hope toilet paper is provided free even after the Olympics and Paralympics."
And here's a few comments from readers, after the story has been up for a few hours:
Ong Chan Hor 2008-07-05 08:47
The public mindset and attitude should change to cooperate and complement the efforts of the authorities to make Beijing a modern, pleasant city for visitors even after the Olympic Games. Private sanitation and personal hygiene in public space must reflect consideration and civic consciousness in toilet usage.
Pay toilet 2008-07-05 08:04
Public toilets should be contracted out and charged. The person in charge collects the fee, provide tissue paper, and keep the toilet CLEAN. A fee also prevents vandals from toilet and only those in need use the toilet.
Nissan3 2008-07-04 21:22
Please enlighten me.
The Chinese government subsidizes the price of gasoline so that the "rich" can drive their cars in China. Driving a car is not a necessity in China.
But, going to the toilet is one of life's necessities. Why can't toilet tissue and liquid soap be supplied before, during and after the 2008 Olympics by the government?
After all, when one has to Go - one has to Go right now!
Maybe the government's priorities need to be set in proper order. Toilet tissue first and then petroleum subsidies much later in the order of importance.
Arthur Tsaturyan 2008-07-04 14:34
A great move forward...but what about Zhenngzhou?
qqqQ 2008-07-04 10:51
Great to hear that.This is one positive development what the Olympics can bring.An Olympic executive once said; it's even more dangerous if we DIDN'T give the Olympic games to China
james simch 2008-07-04 09:57
I am from Singapore and had many unpleasant experiences and memories of using public toilets in China holding deep breath and stepping on human faeces. But now, at last there seems to be Big Golden Opportunity to create more than 10,000,000 jobs Public Toilet Wardens across China paying salary of about Rmb1,000. The economic benefits are immense and it will help the economy to prosper as Lau Pai Xin income and consumption increase and they are motivated to maintain clean and tidy toilet. Users should be charge Toilet Fee eg Rmb1.00 to defray the cost of toilet paper and liquid soap. Let the wardens keep the toilet collections to motivate them and treat collection as bonueses. Clean and tidy toilets will reflect China as a caring and service provider country for Lau Pai Xin and foreigners. Let us hope Modern China capitalize on the opportunities not just toilets in Beijing for Olympic but across China because the intangible returns are unlimited. Most important of all is Chinese people are happy and pride themselves with clean and tidy toilets to world standard. Olympic will motivate China to move forward. forward
read more at http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/olympics/2008-07/04/content_6817886.htm