Sunday, January 29, 2006

Just in case everyone starts to think I've become obsessed with food, here are a couple of poop-related observations instead. Little change of pace.

Most of the narrow alleyways in old Beijing do not have indoor plumbing -- not even close. Our hostel did, but you weren't allowed to throw your toilet paper into the toilet -- it goes in the trash can, just like in Greece. Lucky janitors! You pretty much have to keep tabs on your toilet paper at all times, maybe just stash the whole roll in your purse or something, because the showers are "Stockholm style," ie just a nozzle right over the toilet. There are public bathrooms all over town, and they're free and, well, sort of clean, sometimes, if you don't look too closely. (Sort of like with the "chicken" -- it does what it's supposed to do, so why get all picky?) The public toilets and the ones at the tourist sites and most of the bars and restaurants are the footprint kind. Hole in the floor, ceramic footprints on either side as a clue to the inexperienced. The best piece of travel advice anyone's ever given me is this, years ago from James McQuillen: Make sure, before you drop yr pants and squat above the footprint toilet, that your keys are not in your pocket.

Another hilarious fact about pooping in China has to do with small children. (No surprise there, I guess.) Toddlers in Beijing, once they're old enough to toddle, are dressed in special brightly colored puffy pants with NO CROTCH. Yup. That way, as they're toddling around on the streets and sidewalks of the city, anytime they need to lighten their toddler load they can just squat down and do it right there on the street. No pesky interference from diapers or clothing or pointless inhibitions. I know a couple of boys who would put that style of trousers to excellent use.

More soon,

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