From New York, original humor & commentary by Brian Sack.
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China Dispatch: Using the Squat Toilet


Rule One: Exhaust all other possibilities.

If you are truly in need and condemned to use the squat toilet, comfort yourself with the knowledge that you are several thousand miles from friends and family. No one has to know.

Proceed as follows:

Most stalls do not have toilet paper. This is the best time to realize this. Either take paper from the general dispenser in the bathroom area or preferably bring your own as it will be made of tissue and not plywood carpaccio.

Approach the squat toilet apprehensively and make sure it's not covered in stool. If it is covered in stool, choose another stall. If another stall is not available, accept the cards that have been dealt you. This is a good time to come up with a title for your experience such as My Great B.M. Adventure or Disgusticon One.

Close the door to the stall, knowing full well the handle has more germs on it than the entire population of Botswana.

Place your feet on the appropriate foot grids, assuming they are not covered in stool. If they are covered in stool, place your feet on the least fouled space you can find, being careful to maintain balance.

Unfasten and drop your trousers and underpants, making sure that they do not make contact with the urine and stool covered surface area.

Grimace and ask yourself if a country with such a toilet can or should ever be a superpower.

Assume a squatting position like a competitive ski jumper. Stick your ass out like a whore in a 50 Cent video. This is a good time to pretend you're not a miserable tourist with your pants around your ankles, squatting over a barbaric poo hole.

Use your right hand to prevent the soiling of your trousers and underpants by holding them off the ground and pushing them forward, away from any Danger Zone. This is perhaps the best time ever to be a kilt-wearing Scotsman.

In your left hand should be the assortment of paper/wipes/anti-bacterial sheets you intend to use after you are finished with your production.

You would think you would want your left hand to brace your squatting self against the stall wall. However, the stall wall is covered in nose nuggets and as such is not touchable. At any rate, if you have a penis you will need your left hand for guidance anyway.

For the penised: Use your left hand to aim it away from your trousers and underpants. Point it backwards between your legs - as if it were a rocket engine designed to propel you far away from this alien hellhole. At the same time be sure not to drop any of the objects in your left hand as they will be rendered horribly irretrievable should you do so.

If you do not have a penis, use the left arm to balance yourself - waving it around wildly rather than touching the snot covered stall wall or filthy support bars (if any).

If you are able to maintain balance for several seconds, you are ready to begin bowel evacuation. At this point the bulk of your focus should be towards the quick evacuation of your bowels without soiling your clothing, missing your mark or - God forbid - losing your balance and falling.

For aiming purposes keep your head tucked between your legs - like a bombardier on a very unpleasant mission assigned by General Squalor.

If your aim is true you will have the pleasure of watching poo (yours) drop down a deep, dark hole to a resounding ploot. If it's not true, you will have the pleasure of watching poo (yours) come to rest on the floor between your legs.

After you have completed your bowel evacuation, DO NOT STAND UP. Remain squatting and miserable.

Continue using your right hand to prevent contact of your trousers/underpants with urine/stool. Place your tissues and wipes in your left hand on top of your underwear/trousers and select the items you need for wiping.

Wipe and curse culture simultaneously, all the while maintaining the squatting position.

Do not drop soiled tissues. That would be too easy. Sadly, the 16th century plumbing can only handle poo. Soiled tissues are to be placed in the bin behind you. Without leaving the squat position, twist your body in order to see the bin and make a good throw. Don't worry if you miss, as it's obvious from the poo-sheet pile on the floor that even the squat-tastic natives are no Michael Jordans.

Once sufficiently wiped, humiliated and traumatized, you may stand and re-underpant and re-trouser yourself. This is a good time to reflect on your life and also a good time to try blacking out these last ten minutes - like a freshly-sodomized felon might do.

The filth-covered flush button is behind you and may or may not work.

Open the door to the stall, again knowing the handle has more germs on it than a decade of scrapings from Paris Hilton's tongue.

Exit the stall and never, ever, ever get yourself into a situation where you have to do that again. But first, wash your hands until they bleed.

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I am tramatized just reading that one...

so archaic...yet alarmingly similar to the restrooms at the Jersey Gardens Outlet mall...

No, now THIS is truly Fear Factor.

Not to mention, just how does one actually relax himself enough to give the entire miserable experience a fruitful end?

"For the penised"

Best line EVER.

I'll bet you miss that German shelf toilet now, don't you?

I have the unfortunate fortune to know first-hand that everything you just said is entirely accurate. Oh, how I loved the hotels with "American" toilets.

Over 10 years ago, I stayed at a hotel in Chengdu that I don't remember the name of but had been converted from an old fall out shelter in the middle of town. You had to go down some stairs and through a lounge lit by black lights where Chinese men would go to meet women other than their wives before you got to some concrete halls with about an inch of water on the floor. The rooms had no private bathrooms (of course) and the public bathroom was the most horrific place I've ever been. All of the facilities were just two foot long six inch deep concrete troughs, all stacked high with excrement. The unrinal trough was even full of it. I finally was not able to hold it any more and made the trek past the water heaters to that facilities. I unzipped my pants and looked down long enough to see a black rodent or very large roach scamper across my toes. I then quickly zipped up and was able to hold it until I had made the 20 minute walk to the fancy hotel with the clean bathrooms.

While I blanched at the toilets in Amsterdam, and was paralyzed in terror at the door-less stalls at West Point, nothing can top what I just read. I'm never leaving the Western Hemisphere.

Gosh, It's really a mystery how the SARS virus and Avian flu seem to have establish their original foothold from this area....

I will take an East Texas out house over that nastiness. Great post!

As my mom says, "It is better to stand where others have stood than to sit where others have sat."

Or, perhaps, sit where others have shat.

Never leaving the Western Hemisphere??? That won't protect you. The worst I ever saw (and used) were in France. And yes, I have been to Asia. At least in France the rooms were less well lit, making it easier to pretend you were somewhere else and not a "miserable tourist sqautting over a poo hole."

There are still quite a few of those in bars in my hometown (La Coruña, Spain)

We used to call using them "skating" :)

A friend of mine who has traveled a lot in Asia says the best way to use the squatter and not get your clothes dirty is to just take your pants and underwear off and hang 'em over the door.

You gotta figure you're already squatting over a hole in the floor. How much more undignified could you possibly get by stripping naked from the waist down?

Oh man...make it stop. I have had similar experiences related to me by friends who have made the trek to China. My wife thinks the reason I have no desire to visit the palce is because it is so crowded. HA! It's actually the poo hole that keeps me away.

Hey - In "Nurse Anne Tries To Reflect On Africa" I've got potty pix similar to these out the wazoo (so to speak).

Good God! I am laughing so hard right now that my office mates think I'm on some sort of "happy" meds! This one goes in the hall of fame.

I once heard a story about a Peace Corp worker in Africa who had a "squaty" catastrophe. Apparently, the village toilets were in a hut up on stilts above a large collection tub. The excrement would be collected to be used a fertilizer for the crops. (By the way, when travelling in the developing world, make sure your food is thoroughly cooked.) It seems that this hut was not well constructed and/or in need of repairs. Late one night the Peace Corp worker went to use the facilities and the floor boards collapsed beneath him. The hut was far enough away that no one could hear his screams for help and he was not discovered until morning. I was told that this was the only time that a Peace Corp worker had to be medivaced out of this part of Africa for psychological reasons.

Reason #193 to keep China out of the top ten cultures I want to experience.

Hey it could have been worse... You didn't have diarrhea. Now that was fun time!

I was stationed in Okinawa for a short period of time in the 70s and was a young man then. I was unaware of this sort of a toilet "option" and there was no mention of it during arrival briefings. During an evening outing on the town for drinks with friends, I had a need to use the facilities and was directed to the location. I was quite shocked when I entered what appeared to me to be a shower stall with a large drain hole. Thankfully I only needed to take a leak.

I suppose the people that manufacture colostomy bags could use this in their new ad campaign. "It could be worse. You could be squatting in China."

Brilliant. Hilarious.

I will never, ever travel to China.

I did that once in Italy in 1996. As soon as I finished, and I was traumatized and bent over like a prisoner exiting a dungeon, I went another 25 feet and saw a real toilet for fussy women like me! Rule number one: Exhaust all possibilities ... and then keep going!

You're all a bunch of sheltered pansies. Grow up.

You are hilarious. I remember when i went to China and found out about the squatty pottys, i freaked. I tried to hold it the best i could. my aunt kept telling me "that is cleaner than the toilets in the US." I don't know what the hell she was smoking. but i made sure to eat as little as possible and drink as little as possible until i got to running water.

Yah, I agree with Rob's friend. After living in Taiwan for 13 years, the only way to get out unscathed (at least for "the penised" is to remove pants/underwear. Even then, if you have been sampling the local delicacies, and if you are as (in)flexible as I am, your feet and ankles are in danger of, well, let's just say they are in danger and leave it at that. Having said that, visiting places like Taiwan and China makes you realize what a great country we live in, eh?

Good God, man! That's positively barbaric! Might I suggest carrying a small spade or shovel and voiding in a vacant lot? With most of the paved areas bathed in a liberal coating of phlegm, I doubt anyone would care about your BM locales.

I need therapy having only read that. You truly are the man for having lived it and now having shared your pain with others. Thanks for the heads up!

Hey, I like being a sheltered pansy!
This way I can go experience wonderful stuff like this, then aspire to write fantastic blogs about it. You make my day, Banterist!

Having traveled extensively in the Far East, courtesy of Uncle Sam, I can attest to the fact that the instructions offered here are accurate and should be heeded AT ALL COSTS!!
Now, changing in a US Navy ship'd berthing compartment will cure you of any semblance of modesty or shyness, which is excellent preparation for the use of the Squat Toilet. It is also superb training for those times when you wish to forgo the opportunity to use the squat toilet (ever have your nose hairs vaporized by an outdoor toilet smell? Try the pubic toilets in Korea! I heartily endorse it!)and decide, instead, that maybe peeing in the street with a curtain of your friends (Navy guys are really helpful this way) standing guard and the Korean police looking on is truly the option you are looking for.

B: Scat? Really, you're funny without it.

Plywood carpaccio? Good, but I always liked the 'Clint Eastwood' comparison: rough, tough and takes no shit off anyone.

This post made me collapse a lung and stop breathing due to hysterical laughter. There is nothing feminine about me while I read your posts. Except the fact that am unpenised. And at that definition, some may shake their fists. But screw them.

Anyway. I too had to do this once. Later that day, my family found me in the fetal position, crying.

What a horraneous experience it was...just trying not to fall ass first into the hole. I think that were that to have happened, I would have stayed there, frozen in place like some insect with it's legs and arms flailing in the air.

"Plywood carpaccio". LLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLL. Gives new meaning to "what a sorry bum".

I am in love with you, Mr. Blogger.


nothing beats seeing your friend using one of these things...sitting on it with their feet straight out in front of joke!!!!

this is one of the funniest things i've ever read. i was laughing in my cubicle. out loud.

Last year I went to Indonesia with my girlfriend. We drove by train from baturaden to the harbour to go to Bali.The train was crowded with local people transporting all kind of fruit & vegetables. I had the most terrifying diarrea ever. So i had to go to a squat toilet with no lock, next to a bag of banana's while maintaining balance in a moving train. Terrible ;-)

I spent three weeks in Okinawa this spring. While the lady's toilet in the Japanese McDonalds contained a Washlet (a toilet with a hot-water bidet included!) the upscale local department store (Jusco) had a squatty potty.

I was told by an Englishwoman who lives there that she would rather use these than a regular sit-down toilet as, " don't have to touch anything." Just for the record, that's not exactly how my experience with using one turned out...

Then there are the french squat toilets like the one I found in a little mountain village in the Alps. The toilet had an auto-flush mechanism whereby a reservoir filled with water and, when it reached capacity, flushed the water through a pipe at the back of the toilet sending a cascade of two-inch deep water across the toilet opening and over the foot-pads. Fortunately I only used this toilet to urinate; even then it was a race against time which required waiting until a flush cycle completed, then rushing to pee into the hole and finish before the next flush cycle washed vile toilet water across your shoes.

China is not alone. Such toilets are found throughout the Middle East, though thankfully not so often in large cities like Cairo. So when you need to nip into the local eatery near the Pyramids or Dome of the Rock to use the "facilities", you are warned.

My friend, who travelled frequently to China, claims that he was in a public toilet that smelled so bad that the flies wouldn't go in. He would always carry a gun and a knife when entering the toilet -- in case he fell in he wanted to be able to kill himself quickly!

Well, now I know what the bins are for.

You guys are missing out. The freedom achieved when one is able to commit such a private act in any (ANY) circumstances, regardless of stench, germs, gagging, etc., all while in full view of Chinese men and women who are all eager to see if that American guys genitalia are as strange as the rest of him, should be the envy of any buddhist on any mountaintop in any part of the world. Yes, nothing makes you more one than shitting in oublic while squatting in squalor.

That description was priceless and very apt. I'm having Osaka train station flashbacks as I write. Eww, & again eww. There's a reason squalor and squat have the same root.

I used to think I was unfortunate to suffer from severe constipation while on trips away from home. The last time I was in Europe (France and Italy), I didn't shit for 8 days, plenty of time to find a sit-down flush toilet. Now I know how fortunate I am to have this "problem".

I found that peeing on the floor to clear away the worst of the nuggets helped, along with the added bonus of knowing its mostly your stuff.

Laughing hysterically! Instant classic! The port a potty's during mardi gras here in new orleans might give your poo hole a run for it's money, though. You should try one that's been sitting out for mardi gras for scientific comparison.

Not as bad as you think!

Squat is the best anatomical position for this.

Just always bring your own toilet paper.

Keep lose clothing from touching anything.

Maintain good balance, which is not that difficult.

They have these, along with regular toilets, in the brand new Japan airports!
I've seen these in Yantai, China made by American Standard!!

ha! Guy I know fell into the squat toilet he was using which happened to be on a train (bumpy ride) only to have an Indian woman open the door to find him sitting shocked in the poo hole! Serves him right I say he was a complete git!

I must've been in China too long -- over two years now -- cause I don't even think about using squat toilets anymore. But I still remember when I first came here; I followed Rule One like it was part of the Ten Commandments: thou shalt not poo a filthy hole! Time and circumstance has changed all that, but reading this brought the original trauma flooding back into my mind. It also made me laugh my ass off. Thanks!

Ever been to the bathroom, so to speak, at the Vatican? It is just like the picture except that you pay to have t.p. issued to you.

First experience with the squat toilet was in Greece for the Olympics. I stayed at a camp and shared a room with about 20 other women. The bathroom contained the standard, (God Bless) American style toilet and a squatter. Each night when we returned from Athens, 19 women could be found dancing around the bathroom, legs tightly clasped together, waiting for the American toilet.

Just got back from a trip to Asia, which included 3 days in China. Thankfully, I had to use this type only twice, as my balance is not so hot. I learned to limit my liquids, search for REAL toilets, and hold it a LONG time. How anyone could prefer this contraption is beyond me.

Huh, a large number of people on Earth use this kind of toilets... Or no toilets at all... The WC was only invented 150 years ago. There are people who say the squat position is much much better, that you can get out most of the poo unlike when yo are sitting, and supposedly in the ocuntries where they use those toilets they have barely no gastrointestinal dieases, colon cancers etc. Supposedly bowel movements are easier in a suqatting position.
Personally I still prefer to sit, I have had the 'pleasure' of using such toilets here in my country and have soiled myself, plus it is hard if you don't use them everyday to be used to keeping balance, but after reading those people's explanations it makes sense to me, especially since it is the natural position everyone adopts when we don't have toilets around.
When you think about it, we humans weren't made to shit while sitting. But to people used to clean Western toilets, these toilets are too filthy, even if they might supposedly reduce the number of cancers, constipations, bowel inflammations etc.
So I am wondering if the best toilet wouldn't be a toilet that's just barely above the ground, which would allow you to sit, and squat at the same time? If the squat position truly is better. Personally I never pooed in them (too scared) i only did my small business, so I have'nt tried for myself how it is, but my mother hovers
over the seat, granted its not a squat position but its closer to it than to a sitting one, and she says her movements are easier when she is in that position.

For Maria
You talk about real toilets but do you know that centuries ago even in the west people used those kind of toilets?
That's ethnocentric to say they are not real toilets, yes there are disgusting and hard to use for people like us who are used to WC's but most people on this planet are not and they would find it baffling you don't consider this a toilet.
There are people who prefer this toilet because
1 They don't have to seat directly on the seat and they think if they do theyll catch disease
2 There are people who say it is more healthy to squat because they say it helps to get everything out, with the pressure of the thighs on the abdomen and also that the sitting posture prevents a natural alignation of the anus and thus forces us to push and to exhaust our anal muscles which could cause anal incontinence. They also say using these toilets reduce the occurence of constipation, cancer etc. I am not saying this is true, but there are people who believe this, and I don't think there has been reasearch to prove it. There have been some reaserch who say it is effective though.
Also they say in 3rd world countries where these toilets, are common that people have less diseases of the bowel and gastrointestianl tract. It is also possible might also be that they are underreported in those poor countries
But that doesn't mean we should just push the idea out of our heads, the scientists shoudl study both, and make more studies comparing people who squat and who do not, and see if there is a difference in health. Because afterall the squat position is the position that all mammals or most adopt. Of course,if they could use WC's maybe they'd use them, but that must mean, that our bodies might not be as well suited to a sitting position as a squatting one.

I have travelled to Japan and other parts of the world and used the squat toilets in preference to the sit down ones for good reason. The human body was designed to squat when eliminating. The lower bowel has a kink in it when standing and sitting to stop you making a mess of yourself. This kink is only straightened out when you squat (it is called the anorectal angle) making elimination easier and more complete. The advantages are numerious including a reduction in piles, fissures and other disorders of the bowel. I do believe that the risk of bowel cancer can be reduced if you squat as the junction of the small and large bowel is also closed off when you squat preventing back flow so to speak! The benefits are such that I have installed a squatting platform over my poorly thought out western invention, the sitting toilet.

Just experienced my first chinese toilets on a 2 week trip to China. Thank God that I was constipated rather that the reverse. I made ti back to the hotel all but one time. I wish I had read this first, I could not believe there was not toilet paper! Also no paper towels. Fortunately, I had saved part a a pack of napkins that I had purchased at a restaurant earlier (That is right. Many restaurants charge for napkins) Love the USA!

God. You are all wimps. And although I prefer using WC toilets, I have to say squatting over a hole in the ground is a lot more sanitary than sitting where someone's bare ass has been.

This post has been very educational.

Not so much about how to use a squatting shitter...but that there are actually a deluded community of pro-squat toilet supporters out there. Good Lord.

I love this. It makes me happy. I feel the joy of a small animal whose brain has been erased.

So many of you comment that there are squat type toilets the world over, this is nothing unusual, not unsanitary, blah, blah, blah -- it's comments like these make remind me to bless modern (18 or 19th century?) technology. Perhaps the more natural method of the human body IS to squat .. but then I'm sure that it's supposed to be over a hole freshly dug by the person in relatively "clean" dirt. Any who endorse this particular method of elimination have obviously NOT attempted it! I laughed until I cried because I remembered (in time horror becomes humor) the time when I was stuck in the suks of Bahrain, and too far from my boat to matter. I used a facility similar to that described above and it was a truly revolting and shocking experience. Hole in the ground, check. Stool spread/smeared liberally, check. Smell that would embarrass a skunk, DOUBLE-check. I'll WILLINGLY take a rancid outhouse, disgusting public toilet, etc over THAT form any day of the week and thank my lucky stars I'm more worried about my shoes then my PANTS! I think it's also important to note that this mode of elimination is better suited to people in robes and sandals rather than jeans and sneakers!

I have done my business many times in the woods, so I can appreciate flat surface area and possibility to wash your hands afterwards, both good things which "chines toilet" gives.
Tip: Lower your pants only as little as is needed.

I once used a toilet in a remote village in Morocco. Compared to that, this toilet look fit for a king.

The "toilet" was literally a room with a hole in the ground. No flush, no plumbing, just a huge pile of shit in a hole. You had to take a torch with you because once the door was shut it was PITCH BLACK. It was nighttime and no light was in the room. The little light from the outside was more than stopped by the total lack of windows in this hellhole.

So torch in mouth and precariously balanced on a dirt floor, you followed the procedure above.

Oh and someone I was travelling with (this was a school trip) had explosive diarrhoea and had coated the only wall you could have used for support in it. :-(

Great article, brought back some (rather scary) memories!

Seven Advantages of Squatting

1. Makes elimination faster, easier and more complete. This helps prevent "fecal stagnation," a prime factor in colon cancer, appendicitis and inflammatory bowel disease.

2. Protects the nerves that control the prostate, bladder and uterus from becoming stretched and damaged.

3. Securely seals the ileocecal valve, between the colon and the small intestine. In the conventional sitting position, this valve is unsupported and often leaks during evacuation, contaminating the small intestine.

4. Relaxes the puborectalis muscle which normally chokes the rectum in order to maintain continence.

5. Uses the thighs to support the colon and prevent straining. Chronic straining on the toilet can cause hernias, diverticulosis, and pelvic organ prolapse.

6. A highly effective, non-invasive treatment for hemorrhoids, as shown by published clinical research.

7. For pregnant women, squatting avoids pressure on the uterus when using the toilet. Daily squatting helps prepare the mother-to-be for a more natural delivery.

-- from

Oh, I remember the day I used one of those just after climbing a mountain. Muscle ache all over my legs, I found myself unable to stand up...
And it was not a class act hole-in-the-ground toilet like on the picture. Nooo, a hole with some concrete around it is good enough for tourists!

Having used those on a trip to France, I, too, have to say that everything in here is horribly, horribly accurate. Doubly so if you've got bum knees and a stomach inclined to sudden sickness, like I had. UGH.

I prefer the Chinese toilets, when they are clean - which is usually the case.

I'd rather sit on air than on the sweaty seat that thousands of others ahve sat upon.

And, the squat is a far better position for evacuation of the bowels.

For those of you who can't squat without tipping over - you need to get in shape.

My difficult toilet-time in China was on a three day hike with diarrhea and no toilets along the trail. I contributed much fertilization to the local fields of Tiger Leaping Gorge. The trek, the views, and the local healer who owned the farm where we stayed - with his wonderful remedies from the roots local plants - made it all worthwhile.

Toilets in China are not that bad. Even small villages have clean places to goto bathrooms. If you can only find toilets like those discribed, then you have likely made the local giving you directions angry.

Talking slowly to an English Speaking Chinese is a good way of making them angry, even if they barely speak it. Talk normal until THEY tell you to slow down.


this is so true. i spent a month in china and tibet (try pooping in this toilet when it's below freezing and you're pretty sure your ass is going to freeze off, which will be nice cuz at least then you won't be able to feel the pain of pooping stool ice cubes) and two in india (then a few weeks in nepal) - none of which have western style toilets commonly available. everything you say is true, so true. and for those of us not lucky enough to have penises in this situation - well, you can imagine the trauma is worse. thanks for making me laugh and telling the world of my secret trauma!

I sypathize with your suffering. However, misery and humiliation are still bearable and erasable from your memeory - as long as they're private...

I was camping with friends in Belarus in 1995, and we had been shitting for weeks in mosquito-infested forests and swamps. It was fun until that day of infamy...

I fancied taking a crap in a gorgeous, remote cornfield. The corn was huge, well over 7 feet tall. I waded through it until I found a small clearing. The sky was blue and birds were chirping, and I thought I was about to have the ultimate al fresco shitting experience. As I settled down to do my business, I heared a squeak and the sound of a diesel engine. A double-decker bus pulled over just five feet away, on the road I hadn't seen because of the fucking corn. There I was, frozen halfway through my turd, observed by tourists I could make out through the dark windows of the upper deck. Those ten seconds were the most interminable, excruciating, confusing and embarassing ten seconds in my life. The bus left and I spent the next minutes shitting pure adrenalin. It made a great story when I got back to our camp but I still shudder when I think about it. :)

My cousin went to China on a school trip and had to use these crap holes. She ended up constipating herself!

Haha, thanks man! I'm in Shanghai/China for an internship at the moment and you really gave me 5 Minutes of laughter!

This gives me flashbacks of a toilet on a greyhound Bus...I mean noone ever hit the hole (#1 & #@ everywhere)and I ended up with someone elses pee all over my pants and i had to sit in them for 3 days. I ended up with a huge rash and i had to shower for 4 hours! It was nasty. The whole restroom was covered in pee and my pants never hit the floor and they were covered! YUCK!!! My advice...Cathaters!!!

Oh God! I've been invited to do a workshop way up on the Chinese/Russian border. After reading your piece, I think I'll skip the language lessons and just sign up for group psychotherapy with Monk!

Sitting is completely stupid anyway you slice it. Our bodies are desined for squatting, kneeling and sitting crossed leg - not for sitting in chairs in anything near a 90 degree angle. Even the western idiots are getting this now. But don't worry - sit on a chair, have your back pain and obesity - just take a pill and wink, have a laugh.

I hope you all realise that the "American" toilet was initially invented by the Chinese. Besides, the Chinese deem it unhygenic "... to sit where others have sat." Anyway, I don't think toilets should be a viable reason to knock a country off of the "Ten Places You'll Visit Before You Die" list.

Is it that exspensive to just put a normal loo in I meen id rather go in a bush then on that contraption

I love you.

This blog made me laugh so much I was in tears and almost wet myself. It brought back funny memories. Thanks for such a great laugh, I must say though that the slash pan you photographed was much cleaner looking than the one I experienced! Joe, my husband and our tour guide were very often in fits of laughter at me because I used them as my toilet testers and refused point blank to go in if they discovered anything disgusting no matter how desperate I may have been.

There is one thing for sure toilet jokes provide a jolly good laugh between good friends when you are well enough having gotten over a good dose of the runs to share your shitty experiences!
ONE of my funniest was at experiences was a visit to the tour companies office in some so called palace in Beijing. During the meeting I got the call of nature and asked to visit the loo. I discovered a row of slash pans set into the floor with not a square inch of floor that hadn't been shat upon.
One other particularly traumatic experience happened in Egypt. We both had dysentery by this stage. We were rocking along on the train when I got an urgent rush to the loo. Trying to keep my balance I got my nickers down just in the nick of time when the bung blew. You guessed it, all over the wall! I was as wild as a bear!
I can laugh now, but it took time!
Anyway, thanks for a jolly good laugh!


Was warned about having to do my business in the "crouch" position by my Chinese friend who I will be visiting in a few weeks. All I can say is there better be private walls around this thing or I'm going to feel rediculous squating in plain view of everyone else. The Chinese love to stare at us Westerners. Squating and doing my business, I'll feel like an animal in the zoo on exibition. :-)

Guess there's pros and cons for each approach. I favor the Western toilets. At least the stuff doesn't stick around for others to see, step on, and smell. You push a lever and down it goes!

As for the last poster, if you're in a private bathroom and can reach the sink while sitting, turn the water on and wet the toilet paper before using it. Gets you as clean as a whistle! I do it all the time, when I can.


I just visited China and got to use these lovely contraptions. Actually hiking 220 miles on the John Muir trail helped prepare me for these. I am a second grade teacher and brought pictures to show all my kids. By far the favorite one was of the squatty potty. The kids all did reports on China and one kid just kept going on and on about the toilets and asking questions in his report. Maybe you might want to leave that part of the trip out if you teach those that are not ready for R-rated material. Two kids said they had nightmares about the potties. China however was quite a trip as was the toilet experience.

> Grimace and ask yourself if a country with such a toilet can or should ever be a superpower

I was in Bologna once waiting for a train to Zagreb, and needed the loo only to find out it was one of those.

I held on for dear life until the train came.

I followed Gadling's link to get here. Boy, was it worth it.

I laughed until I had tears.

I'd rather shit in my pants.

Now you know why in some countries men wear skirts! We women know that it is far easier to squat with a skirt than with slacks!

Oh my gosh! I laughed till I cried! I havent been to China in 10 years but everything you say here is so familiar! I love those toilets actually - when they are clean..and they usually arent..too many tales to tell..thanks for the laugh

This is one of the funniest things I have ever read! We are heading off to China in a few weeks and my brother was teasing us this weekend about the toilets there (he has made some business trips to China in the past). I am utterly modest about going to the bathroom....if I survive this experience I hopefully will not need more than several years of therapy to work out my issues. Thanks for a great laugh!

Dear Lord - why are people getting so snarky over squatting vs. sitting for taking a shit? Who cares?

If you're so pro-squat, put a squat toilet in your home. I hope that when you're elderly and have OA of the knees, you don't regret your choice.

Honestly, only AMERICANS would get uppity over the "health benefits" of squatting to take a shit.

I tried one of these and slipped on the stool and accidentally stuck my foot in the hole and fell face first on the floor... and i didn't have any toliettes...


Quote: "I tried one of these and slipped on the stool and accidentally stuck my foot in the hole and fell face first on the floor... and i didn't have any toliettes..."

Oh my god, you poor thing!!! Sooooo funny though when you're the one reading about it!

I'm an Aussie female and an avid camper. Once you've shit in the woods, baring your bum to the local animals and random campers, you'll never have a problem ever again. I've got to agree though, if it stinks (whether it's a western toilet or not) I won't use it. Vomit!

To the chinese person above ... don't be offended. It's not personal, it's just different to what most westerners are used to, that's all :)

I dropped a strap from my back pack in it and forgot to bring toilet paper seeing as all of north america provides it..

they acctually arnt as bad as you make them sound. You must have gone into one that was less then 3 stars. You just have to watch where you go into, and make sure you note, that on almost all the public tolets have a star rating system. =)

"Dear Lord - why are people getting so snarky over squatting vs. sitting for taking a shit?"

Maybe because the tone of the story, and the comments, is contemptuous.

To most of the people in the world, this is a very natural and usable toilet, no touching, easily hosed down, etc. You Westerners need to get over yourselves, everyone doesn't have to do things your way.

What 'doors'?
There are no doors in most of these places. Extra fun cross-cultural experience!

I once pooped out of a moving car so I don't really have a preference either way. I'll poop on home plate at Yankee Stadium if you want.

I've lived in China for 6 years. Love the place, but must say everything about this experience is true. True there are a few places that burn incense and have girls inside incessantly mopping but the majority of places are as described. Even if they are being constantly mopped, no bleach or any other cleaning solution is being used so what's the point? You're standing in thousands of people's pee that's been wiped with a mop stinking of month's worth of pee and only ever been rinsed in water. How someone can say it is cleaner is beyond me. For women, the shallow porcelain bowl sprays your pee right back at you and all around the stall. Your shoes are ruined and even your arms and face can feel the splattering.I personally wear surgical shoe covers when traveling on the train as the floor is covered with poo and pee is swirling around your feet with the motion of the train. As for the arguments of the health benefits of the squatting position, my years of experience have not found it to be so. When you're so concentrated on protecting your clothes, not touching anything and the pure degredation of it all, it's quite the opposite. It's much more difficult to do your business. Many attempts go unsuccessful. In many cases, there are no doors or doors that don't come low enough to the floor. Yes, I have been peaked at on many occasions - instant constipation! If fewer cases of constipation and other bowel disorder occur in places where these toilets are used, it probably has more to do with other lifestyle aspects such as less meat, dairy and junk food in their diets and a lot more walking. Sitting on a western toilet is not filthy. Unless you smear your genetalia and anus around the seat the truth is only your thighs are touching. What's the difference in that and wearing shorts or mini-skirts or even swimsuits and sitting where others have sat before? Besides, my mom taught me to hover slightly above a public toilet to pee and put paper down on the seat if it's a sit down job. How hard is that? Just smell the difference in the 2 bathrooms and decide which is cleaner? Personally, I'd rather walk out of a bathroom without other people's pee on my shoes.

This would have to be the funniest thing I have read in ages. Though I will take a few notes as my husband and I are heading over to China sometime next year. I am going to go prepared and tons of toilet tissue and even may buy some pills to clog me up for the whole two weeks...

wow these people have nuclear weapons.

This is one of the most true and humorous stories I have read recently. I have been travelling to China every other month for the past year, and have needed to use the John once in a Emergency situation. I took one leg of my trousers off and swung them around the other leg to protect them from who knows what....

After reading some of these comments from the Squat for health community, maybe I should only use my toilet to piss in, and squat and shit in my bathtub. Seems to be the Healthy way to approach things. I will tell you one thing, American Toilet Technology is #1. I've Shat all over the world, none can compare to a good Kohler throne!!

That was detailed and entertaining not to mention informative to the point that I will inquire about the existance of the squat toilet if ever leaving the US and not headed for Europe.

I can tell that using a Squat Toilet at a ski-resort with your ski boots still on is'nt a good idea. Because they were wet from the snow , the plastic bottom of the boots were very slippery and I had no grip anymore on that toilet with the most disgusting fall ever. I won't tell any details but I've tried to clean myself and my clothes abit and went right back to my hotel to shower and change ;)

I think you tried squatting wrong and I never saw a bathroom that disgusting so far in Shanghai. Also, not everywhere has soap, babywipes are necessary.
My squatting method, I'm female, is to pull my pants to about mid thigh, squat to where my knees are bent almost completely and my rear is hanging a couple of inches above the foreboding hole and then take care of business. I avoid squatters for bowel movements but for urine they're fine.

But what do you do when you have a broken leg?

[ "Leave China" comes to mind. -B. ]

I've been to China and used the squat holes. It's not so bad, really. I prefer squatting over making thigh contact with a public toilet seat...and squatting over a raised toilet is tricky. Your blog is comedic gold, though :) Folks with bad knees beware!

I just got back from a day trip to China. I dropped my sunglasses into the deep dark hole and was just looking for a photo so I could describe the experience to my more fortunate friends who have yet to experience this. I just wanted to say I just laughed to hard at your article that I cried.

I laughed and laughed...but only because I just returned from China yesterday having survived the Chinese toilet experience without mishap. But honestly, if I had read this before I visited, I might never have gone. NO ONE warns you about this. I wonder if the 2008 Olympic promotional material will at least give folks a "heads up" [pun intended].

this is the nastyest thing ever i will never use 1 of these

God, thats some self-deficating humour! Or is that self- depricating? Decapitating? Regardless, I thought squatting in the bush in Northern Ontario having my butt attacked by a "gazillion" starving mosquitos was bad!
Great tips, heading to Russia soon have heard about these holes...hopefully I'll just get constipated. Something I've never hoped for before I might add.

This would help on my next trip to China.

Unfortunately, I've already been to China without reading this.

Any trip to a public restroom can be a harrowing experience, esp. airplanes, trains and their stations, the last gas station at the Pennsylvania border on Rte 81 before New York, pubs or anywhere drunks congregate. As one without penis, I have found it easiest to use conventional toilets with the seat up and squat. Much less contact, and no tinkle on the seat to wipe up later. Studies have shown the seat & toilet are cleaner than the paper towel dispenser, sink and door handles because the toilet itself is cleaned more frequently. I have read that the ATM has more germs than the average public toilet seat. But I still won't sit on the public toilet! Your story lends a whole new meaning to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon!" Have enjoyed your writing ever since the leather pants.

my sister just had the pleasure of getting to know these toilets while she spent the summer abroad in italy!
...we all thought she was just being a wimp-
well now i feel totally inclined to back her up the next time she is doubted...
u rock banterist!

Hahaha!! I read about this asking my boyfriend from Korea "for real? they really do that" a million times! The shit bin at the end killed it though. I will be constipated before I go overseas.

I was in the service in germany for quite some time and the german shelf toilets are good execpt you dont hear the splash like american toilets. Im goint to corespond with a CHINESE person soon and will ask them about the squat toilets there and find out about them.

Another comment about the shelf toilets in germany,when inn the service someone would about every week lay a huge long piece of poop in it and not flush it. I do agree that squatting is the best position for pooping i havent tried it tey but soon will.

I visited Egypt in 2005 and remember being "warned" about squat toilets. I stayed at nice hotels so I didn't encounter one until I went to the train station in Cairo. I walked in to the restroom, dressed like a typical tourist so I drew some attention. Every eye turned towards me anticipating my reaction as the attendant opened the door to an available stall. I was really shocked and crossed myself then snapped a picture to the delight of all the patrons. Apparently the attendent only opens doors and little else. My tour group had a great time with our guide, questioning him about the purpose & proper use of scrubbing brush and sponge on a stick.

This is absolutely hilarious i really can't stop laughing. I'm hoping to never need this!! =DD

Greetings from the Netherlands.

I seem to have been fortunate. the squatter in question at the brunei airport had a sort of hose and shower head contraption which I can only assume was for cleaning foot grids

I just returned from China, and it wasn't all that bad except in my father's village. Here, there were stalls divided by concrete (no privacy)and according to my dad, they used to have running water 24/07 when he was young. I heard this was discontinued as a result of China's effort to conserve water. I feel bad for my mom because she acted as my bodyguard (she was concerned for my safety as my balance is not that great and it was also getting dark)and handed me toilet paper when I was finished.
It may be because I was staying with my aunt in Hong kong and she had a toilet at home. I still used these squat toilets when going to restaurants, and did get used to it. It wasn't too bad in Hong kong. I was in China for almost a month and I learned so much in that time. There is so much to see in China. To be scared off by inconvenience is just cowardly of some of you. My father's uncle is 92 and has been using these all his life. He is very agile and healthy.Just think about it - he squats everytime he has to go #2.For us girls, we squat whenever we go to the bathroom. Who needs the gym??
Maybe I didn't have such a bad experience either bc I was with family, but I went to all 5 cities of Canton. It is just something to get used to. I agree with a previous poster - If we are going to another country, why should we expect them to accomodate what we are used to. For that, just stay home - comfortable and uncultured.
While watching the news in Hong kong, they interviewed people on what they were doing to help the environment. Many people responded that they took 5 minutes showers or even cold showers. How many of us can give up the luxury of a hot shower to save our environment?? P.S. There is no heat in Southern China, where Hong kong is located.
FYI - the shower head in the bathroom is what they used to shower. They save space by not having a tub or even doors for a shower room.

I really enjoyed the lengthiness of this report. It doesn't seem like you are dragging the same joke on and on. On the contrary, it is a strong narrative covering one event after another. It really is quite wonderfuly written.

You forgot to mention the ending. Not all squatters have flushers.

In Thailand you often have to pour water in from a bucket to make it go down. What fun!

This is hilarious!

I guess public toilet, squatters or not, will always have their share of uncomfortable issues. I guess it must be cleaner for those in people's homes.

This is hilarious!

I guess public toilet, squatters or not, will always have their share of uncomfortable issues. I guess it must be cleaner for those in people's homes.

visiting a remote area we ran across an ex pat who had made his peace with the local squatiform plumbing. He had obtained a folding chair and removed the webbing from the middle of the seat. This was placed over the said poo-hole and he was free sit to do his business. This he found to be far more satisfactory when using the facilities at his hotel.

Just got back from Philippines (2nd trip). This time I took toilet paper. The first time, I got caught at my gf's place completely unprepared, talk about embarrassing. I noticed she had disproportionately strong glutes and thighs, but I couldn't put one and one together, until the next morning when I asked the whereabouts of the TP. With nothing but a door separating me from her 3 sisters (I heard them giggling), I took off my shorts and underwear, then dropped into my catcher's stance (feel the burn). to make a very long story short, you got to try it once. I know I would lose about 15 pounds if I had to do it on a regular basis, cuz I'd never want to eat anything that would keep me squatting for more than a minute. And, I'd never go on a drinking binge - rabbit pellets are easier to wipe than the alternative. Did I tell you about the outdoor urinal (3 plywood walls)- they had me going uphill, who was the brainchild on that one - totally different stance.


There is more to the life of the squatter; factually and physiologically. First, China has no monopoly on this fine invention. I know because my wife is a Russian and I have covered a trove of the toady holes. In Russia.

The squat of a Westerner is an inferior one. I used to think that the art of squatting with heels firmly on the ground was the genetic domain of Vietnamese, later including the Chinese. Such racism. I discovered Russians and quickly found that they were adept at the oriental squat; including my pale wife. Not I, and that is the rub. Westerners grow up with unstretched Achilles tendons never asked to squat.

The ergonomics of Lamarkian disuse is a plague to westerners because there is no way to balance. That is mechanics problem #1. The author points out the other dysfunction of the short anti-gravity penis. But the real problem is lack of a 3rd hand to hold the pants, 2nd to balance on toes by holding the hand behind the back, palm or knuckles to the encrusted wall, hold the cardboard on pants and the 1st hand on the penis.
The solution? Yoga. And how fitting it is for those who are traveling to China for the Olympics to get into shape for the elimination rounds.

[ Eloquent, yet poop-related at the same time. Amazing. -B. ]

I live in China now, and my apartment has the squatty potty. I have to do an "Iron Horse" stance every time I drop anchor, and living in a part of China where spicy food is everything, I occasionally get that ever familiar stomach gurgle. In defense of the hole, it's very easy to clean and it supposedly cuts the risk of colon cancer, giving you a much straighter, more satisfying passage. A big problem that nobody's mentioned yet is that I've been reading a lot less this year than previous years. When you're using a squatter, you can't dilly dally. It's strictly business... but you really can poo and shower at the same time

You are all a bunch of nancy boys. Squat toilets are usually cleaner than the seat toilet if in an area where the locals squat (you can all figure out why). Also much less likely to be constipated on a squat toilet. Have none of you ever been out in the wild at home and had to make do? All you pansies need to harden up.


reminds me of taking a dump in the woods absent the saplings to hold on to.

When I was on vacation in China, I made sure I did all my business at my hotel. I was stuck at a bus station once and I just had to go. My stomach was rumbling! It is not an experience that I want to repeat. I think that's the greatest thing I learned in college--how to take a dump in the worst bathrooms, because the bathrooms in college are the absolute worst. People piss all over the seat and spray explosive diarrhea everywhere. I think that bus station bathroom in China was just a little worse.

This has to be one of the funniest "shit" stories I've ever heard, kinda takes me back to the days of potty training my does however make me rethink any possible trips abroad, especially to countries that still indulge in 16th century plumming.

Makes the French variety look pretty tame.

When I was in Japan away from the main cities, there were poo holes and only one bathroom for both sexes. Try that!!!

I would have laughed my head off reading this if I hadn't already had the miserable experience myself. It brought back nightmarish memories. The 1st time I saw a squat toilet, I decided not to go. Two hours later I really needed to go...another squat toilet. Yes it was horrible. From then on, whenever I could, I would find out what type of toilets thay had before I would go anywhere. Oh, this was in (supposedly) modern Japan. The holes in the ground in France were easier.

The first time I encountered a squat toilet,in Roam in the early 80's, I had been searching for a 'bathroom' for about 45 minutes. I finally found one and found this...area...and I went back to my traveling companion crying, 'oh, it's only for pee pee! I have to have one for poop!' That is the true traveling definition of a learning curve.

pleasee give mee your nr phone because i have one conversation with you

I first encountered these archaic toilets in Iraq. After several months we were blessed with a few port-o-potties. You should have seen what the locals did to our port-o-potties, they were even more confused by them than we were by the “poo holes.” They had no clue how to use them. They would stand on them hunched over which caused poor aim. The messes were unbearable, and we initially thought it was the work of heartless pranksters. It didn’t take long to put two and poo together…we quickly put locks on them after that.

funny,but disgusting.
I'll flush a sitter and put paper on it,over standing in someone elses SHIT anyday.

Jenny, girls do NOT have to squat all the time on a sit down toilet. Everything can be done sitting down still so unless it's for hygenic reasons, not sure why you're still hovering over a normal toilet...
Alex, it's for cleaning YOURSELF, believe it or not!

good lord. i'm going to china soon and am absolutely terrified of these toilets!
I did it in germany before, but a teenage girl has more modesty than a 7 year old....
maybe i'll keep a towel in my pack so that i can drape it over my, er, *ahem* self for privacy. awkward, much?
thanks for the read!
*proceeds to do squatting exercises*

In 1976 I waited with 70,000 other people in a stadium parking lot to see the Rolling Stones. There were at least 300 hundred drunken, stoned fans lined up for only seven Porta-potties, so I ran across the street to a small diner. There, in a single stall with the door torn off, was an overflowing toilet clogged by a 3 foot pyramid of shit spilling over onto the floor. I watched as a line of people disgusted by the smell gagged and then forced their way out to leave. By standing on the seat, I was just able to clear the mountain of crap and pinched a loaf that rolled off the pile and onto the floor. The horror of that scene haunts me to this day.

This is one of the funniest things I've read in a long time, and after a week long vacation in Thailand, too true.

Anyone remember the old "Battleship" shitters? The ones consisting of a trough of water flowing sequentially under a number of toilet seats?

A buddy of mine was on leave in the mid-east (Morocco or Tunisia, I think?) and he and a couple of shipmates did the tourist-thing by going on a camel-ride through the countryside.

The caravan stopped for lunch at an oasis. He had to do his business in an apparently ancient stone blockhouse. He had just finished using the poo-hole (no paper, of course) but was relieved that the next room had a trough of running water for washing your arse/hands/whatever was nassty. Only to be surprised when a bunch of local women came in and commenced to squat-down over the "washing-trough" to urinate. It was good that he had already eaten.

Gotta love cultural education!

Someone mentioned that the best way to get around the squatting toilet is to remove the pant/ underpant and hang them over the door. I hope no one is stupid enough to believe that crap. How the hell are you going to put your pants again knowing full well that there are poo all over the floor? Now, if balance is already a challenge, can you imagine trying to wear your pant in that dirty, cramped little space? For goodness sake, just fold up the end of the pants to maybe the knees....idiot

id crap on the street instead

I work in a Korean school, and although most places here have "normal" toilets, the schools still feel the need to degrade and humiliate the students so they use the standard squat thingy.

I have no problem with squatting. It's quite comfortable, and yes, it is generally more practical.

What I do hate though is having to wade through other people's shit and piss in order to get to the toilet. Unless you are extremely lucky, you will find that most squat toilets are utterly filthy, and carrying a smell to match.

I backpacked around China years ago; there was NO alternative but to you use them. I had train myself to live with the revulsion I felt. I don't think I can actually make myself go through that again.

I shat and missed... =(

China has trillions of dollars, so why the squat toilet, why the SMOG in Beijung where the Olympics will be hold and why do Chine people bush and shove evern where there is no room. I'll nvef go back, Ny husband is Chinese

I'm a Chinese, and have never gone abroad. To read you guys' comments is amazing and amusing!

It seems there may be a long way for the developed countries' residents to understand the lives of the developing countries', whose lives are of course far different from yours.

In the case of squatted shitting things, I should say, the sitting epuipment is a more expensive and it takes more water to wash down what are supposed to be washed down. What's more, you have to make a contact which the equipment, which is unacceptable for public places. If westerners are feel difficult, awkward about squatted one, that is because you have never tried such a thing and some of you I guess is too big, too high, too heavy to both place your body on your heel and feel fine. On the contrary, we Chinese do such thing everyday that we feel quit natural, besides we are slender and smaller.

What's funny and weird is that some of commentators regard it as disasters, and react so unreasonable that many even swear to step into such countries or regard people who use such equipment as uncivilized.

There are always difficulties when you try something new. When it comes to your lifetime lifestyle it will be more difficult even to understand, not mention to get used to.

In fact, I switched to sitting toilet now in my apartment, but I feel fine with squat toilet too. For most Chinese some of your daily equipment are luxuries for them, but right these people who work 12 hours a day and 30 days a month to make all the Made-in-China utensil boated to the West who have $ and polluted their hometown too.

Most of us live in poverty and exploited by the authorities. But as you believe all persons are created being equal, we believe life is hard and need to fight, we know every Yuan is not easy and should be used where is most needed.

It is difficult for the tourists who expected to see the fine scenery to understand this China, you are just passerbys.

Clean is clean and shitty is shitty no matter what hemisphere you are in. It did take me a while to adjust to squatters. There was a time in Songpan when I had diarrhea and I went into their public bathroom which was just the concrete trough with waist high concrete barriers and no doors. There were also a whole lot of peasants just hanging out in the shithole. I turned tail and ran out of there with a quickness. The guy tried to make me pay the 2 jiao fee because I had gone in and come out, but I told him I didn't use it. I then ran out into the forest and communed with nature.

But come now, Jagus, there is no need to be offended. I'm sure if you ever do go abroad you will be just as scared of American truck stop bathrooms which are well-known bastions of filth, French outdoor public urinals, (hey, it used to be an all boys school) and let us not forget the 2 girls who shared a cup.

to mavy words

I spent 16 days in Vietnam this March and was warned, but to actually see and have to use a "squatty Potty" was funny, scary and very filthy. It was hysterical to read the detailed description but oh how true it is. I ride race horses track work so the "squat" was actually more comfortable that trying to "hover" over a european toilet. It is the stench of the misguided toilet paper that really gets to you. It's amazing how long you can hold your breath when you really have to...

When we were in China our guide always pointed out the "Happy Toilets" which were Western style. We found almost all toilets, Western or 'normal' to be fairly clean. We were told to bring a small roll of toilet paper with us such as you take on a camping trip.

After my first experience with a 'squatter' I then realized which so many Chinese took the squatting position when waiting for a bus or just being idle.

I'd go again any time.

You better protect what you have here in the US. I don't think American's realize how low we have gotten on the world scale. You say Oh no, we are the best. Look and read, we have almost been taken over without a shot now. If we continute to be taught apathy in schools. I frankly see no way to save the US at this point. All of the people want something given to them for nothing. At least the bathrooms in other countries are energy savers.

I backbacked through China in 1990 and tried to put that part of the travelling out of my mind - although it's the same in Turkey, Egypt and many other countries. What I have read about China is this: up until the very recent past - or still today - the human waste is a valuable fertilizer for the vegetable fields, and those "honey buckets" balanced by stick on the peasants' shoulders are valuable commodities. In the books on old China, a farmer who visited another family and had to use their hole for #2, would put the familty into a temporary debt for the same amount of it on a reverse visit to his farm. Imagine how valuable it was!

Having traveled a lot globally overthe years, I feel the need to give my 2c as well:

(1) W.C. History:
Water flushed toilets were not invented by the Chinese, and not by Westerners 150 years ago. The oldest archaeological finds of water flushed toilets are in today's Iraq... just a couple thousand years before us idiots went there because some not even elected illiterate wants us to go there to kick some ass. You can get a good explanation at the Pergamon museum in Berlin. The ancient water-flushed toilets worked differently though - since ancient times used in ancient Roman and Greek spas, and to this day still in some middle-eastern bath houses alike. The airy toilet room is public but gender specific, with marble boards to sit on, holes (makes for a great toilet seat), and underneath a torrent of water streaming sideways, carrying everything away. Similar to what deMontjoie describes as the "Battleship" - this is actually the oldest water flushed toilets known.
@Tim: "scrubbing brush and sponge on a stick" ancient concept. Sometimes only a stick.

(2) Japan:
While I prefer the modern Japanese toilets (not the squatting ones - but the ones with electronic control and alarm button, for clean water jets to rinse your flowerpot with amazing accuracy). I have been violently sick at a Japanese airport once on a layover and not only were there *only* Western toilets much fancier than anywhere in the US, they actually made me feel much cleaner after than anything I had ever experienced at any US airport. Just remember... never press the red button. Ever. Unless you want emergency medics that only speak Japanese rescue you no matter what you are trying to explain. In many cases the hand wash stations don't have paper towels or air dryers.

(3) Europe vs US:
For your next trip to Europe, stick to Germanic and Scandinavic countries or the UK. Squat toilets are not only common in Romanic language speaking European countries (France, Portugal, Spain) but also in most of eastern Europe and Greece (I remember it was hard to find any sit-down toilets in Greece in the late 70's - now they are the standard though). I have to say that I have also encountered them in National Parks in the US more than just a few times. I honestly prefer them over a Walmart toilet any day. So much cleaner... just dont use one that people have soiled too much before you.

Any public restroom including restaurants here in the US that is not cleaned reguarly, say every hour, is more disgusting than a squat toilet. Especially if you are a penised member of society. And our American paper dispensers (handle) are disgusting... I found that after many trips abroad. I now always wash my hands, dispense, wash again, use paper to turn off handle and dispense more paper. Yuk. Never use public restrooms home in the US.
Speaking of paper... as pointed out in the original post, paper products go into the bin. That is the case in many countries where the infrastructure doesn't allow for lage scale waste water treatment plants. The paper doesn't degrade as the waste and fills up the septic tanks used in most places. Do them a favour and don't put anything down the hole or sit-down toilet other than what comes out of yourself (female hygiene products not included either).

Toilets in English speaking countries are usually of the American Standard style with plenty of water to go penis fishing in if you are not careful - For that I prefer the German ones where you get free dangle at the cost of having to produce onto what seems like a cereal bowl. My hint for these is to put some tp on the "platform" you produce on first, helps sliding when flushing. Another type I experienced during my service years was a hole we had to dig, and a beam across to sit on for balance. Just make sure you don't have your cell phone or wallet or keys too loose in your pockets.

(4) for those people writing in all CAPITALS - stop yelling at all of us reading your post. Sheesh

(5) So amazed at how the comments keep coming for well over a year on this post...

(6) @jagus thank you for your post

o m f g that would suck thats fuckin halerious!

Haha. The first time is always the worst but gradually you get used to it. WOOH CHINA!

Brings back fond memories of being a 20-year-old exchange student in 1985 Xian. The best trick was trying to do the squat toilet thing on the train...rockin' and a-rollin'.

I'm thowing out anything made in China. And this is called a super power. WAAAAHHHHHHHSAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

I'm thowing out anything made in China. And this is called a super power. WAAAAHHHHHHHSAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

I don't know that the position of elimination matters so much in health, stretching, elimination, etc.

Eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables keeps anyone regular and renders straining unnecessary.

I don't care so much about the type of toilet (or hole LOL) as long as it is clean and I don't have to stand in mess, but from what I've read, those are hard to find.

If you want to find the best and only certified squat toilet sold in the USA go to

[ Call now! Operators are squatting by. -B. ]

Just got back from Asia. I had none of my usual stomach aches, IBS, bloating, etc. Figured out that it was because of using squat toilet for first time. I have a hunch our western "sitting" toilet position leaves a LOT of waste in the colon. Squatting was first time in my life that it felt like it wasn't a straing on my system to go to bathroom. AND it felt like is all came out. I never feel that way sitting on regular toilet.

beam me up squatty-

Sorry, I'm sure your comment was interesting, but the whole tired, trite, overdone liberal Bush-bashing in the beginning made me stop reading. Apparently there isn't ANY subject that you people can't turn into a Bush hate fest. Jeez, get over it already. Oh, and if you hate America and think that everything we do is horrible and sucks, please get out. Go live in Iraq or something, we don't need you here. Thanks.

To everyone else, sorry about the off-topic, but good lord, that crap is so played out. I want to read about squat toilets, not about some weeping vagina liberal's political views.

Holy crap that was funny! "Wipe and curse culture simultaneously."

I read that the squat-crapping method is better for you. Supposed to increase the amount of toxins that are removed from the body. This post is super funny though.

HA HA HA, this is so funny. I live in a country that all their bathrooms are like that, even in most public places like schools and malls.

I like your article, but I don't agree with you. People are CLEAN. They don't shit everywhere, as you implied. We don't use tissue for cleaning, we use water instead. As for holding your pants all the time, you are wrong again. If you are well experienced, you would know how to hold your whole pant under your knees ;)

In my personal bathroom, I have both kinds of toilets. I do like the western toilet, it more comfortable, but I would never place my butt where everyone does!!! If I have to, I just sit on top of it as if I was sitting on the regular one.

Compare your "exaggerated" story with someone shitting in the desert, where there is wind and sand breezing your ass, now THAT'S real painful. If you are camping, make sure to stay away from bushes, coz snakes like small penises :P

@ USAtoiletsareawesome,
...where the f&&& do you read anything liberal or Bush-bashing in my last post? You must have fallen head-on into a squatter. Take your nonsense to a Palin event, she talks like you, random. She is just a bit more attractive than you. I hope to see you with me on my 3rd tour to Iraq next month so I can see you weep and soil your pants, sissy. Oh yeah, also no toilets like home there when you're out with us. That will teach you how to behave and learn be a real man. ...the locals keep their squatters way cleaner than what we get in camp, usually because of goofs like you.

I have been living in China for 2 months now. I tried avoiding them until, during a night of drinking, I found out the bar had this style! A few beers and a few trips to the toilet later, I am no longer scared of them. I can even use them while drunk! I'm just happy they have all had doors so far.

OMG once i had to use one of these in Ghana – with NO DOORS! I was abbbsssolutely desperate, my bladder was cramping in my stomach and we were in the middle of nowhere. I walked in and there were all these other women just squatting and looking at me. It felt too offensive to around in disgust. I tried to go – I swear I felt a panic attack coming on, there was just poo everywhere! and it was a really dark hut so u couldnt see anything. I was trying not to breath the horrific air. In the end I was so stressed I couldnt go! I had to continue my journey with serious stomach ache.

This can't be to much worse than a hole in the ground (which I have done.) Then again, I've never used a 'squaty potty'.

Living in China, as I have for nearly 2 years now, I have occasionally had to resort to the squat toilet to poo. Notably, as another poster in Indonesia, with diaorrhea and on a moving train.

I have to say that my experiences while by no means pleasant were not terrible.

However, motre often than not, I have access to western style toilet facilities.

It is interestingt hat while in UK we have laws that say that public eateries etc must provide toilet facilities if over a certain size, in China, finding a toilet INSIDE anywhere is unusual. This tells me that the chinese think they are disgusting too.

i used squat toilets all through my childhood. actually, there is one good trick for pooping. just turn around and squat facing the door. that way your poop will go into the hole instead of on the floor. try not to be too ambitious, it is good enough for the poop to enter the hole where the water isn't at (if the hole has water, i.e. it is a flush toilet). if it lands in the water, it can send a nasty splash up. but if it is just a dry hole with no flush there's no problem.

I laughed so hard I crapped in my pants.

I love your article on squat toilets. I feel bad for you and others that have to encounter dirty ones. The squat toilet is much cleaner and easier to use. It shouldn't be traumatic as long as the toilet is clean.

Yes, I am an American and I'm willing to squat to go potty. If I ever get to travel, I want to see at least one of these famous filthy ones just so I have the benefit of the same bad experience the rest of you do. Life needs a balance of good and bad to stay in harmony, I always say. So the more knowledge the better.

And Blue Earth Ceramics, thank you for telling us you make these squat toilets. I'd be interested in buying one so I don't have to squat over a normal toilet.

Yeah I travelled to South Korea and I searched all over the net looking for someone else who had been traumatized by this- this helped me out a lot :)

As a frequent user and advocate of the squater the safer way to use the squatter to avoid soiling your pants is to not pull your pants all the way down. Just leave them at your knees and once you squat they will be squished behind your knees and it is much easier to pull your pants forward without having to adjust your golden member. Squat 101 my friends.

I'd much rather just shit in a ziplock or grocery bag then use something like this. Thanks for telling me about the hell and horror of China. If I ever leave America, I'm gonna bring a lot of bags so I can shit in them.

Thank you - found this just before DH went to Chongqing, which added to my actual 'wet myself' hilarity

If you've used a squat toilet all your live, balancing is not a problem. I have both seating and squat toilets, both at home and in the office. I never use the seating toilet. If I have to use a public toilet, I always search for a squat toilet. The last time I was forced to use a seating toilet was a few years ago. On a 3-day company trip I couldn't find any squating toilet.

There is one big problem with a squating toilet, how to balance on it. This is a non-issue if you grow up using one.

There are two big problems with a seating toilet. (1) You're seating naked on a seat that has been used by who knows how many people. How many did not clean themselves properly when they bathe? How many have not bathed for 3 days. How many have skin diseases? How many people had previously urinated on the seat, and the urine dried, but the seat not washed? (2) If your butt cheeks are squished together, how can anything exit your anus easily? Hemorrhoids are much less common in developing countries that still use squat toilets.

Oh, and the story about the Peace Corp person in the collapsing toilet? Have a thought for the poor guy who had to empty that bucket at the bottom of the toilet hole.

This is the funniest blog post I have ever read. Kudos!

Thank you!

I think i'm ready for the Philippines now.

I don't think I would ever use one of those. Squattign causes cramp. Lol

Very funny and so true as I have traveled to China. Now, you should try this on a moving train with a pile of poo beneath you with a slippery floor...

This is hilarious and accurate! I just got back from a trip to Taiwan, and had to use these several times for #1 but not #2. I'm fine with the squatting postition, but the filth of everything else is what makes it so disturbing. If the stalls are "cleaned," they are simply hosed off, so the water mixes with the urine and the poo and you are walking on a wet sewer slippery surface. The trash can full of fecal paper and no-one washing their hands with soap afterwards is the worst part! Anything you eat has been touched by such hands. And yes, the walls are covered in snot, spit and whatever else!

I remember reading somewhere that there's some company in the US that actually sells these pathetic things in the US. Supposedly some folks in the American health-nut community are going a bit nutty with them. Go figure.

Note to self regarding upcoming trip to China: Eat cheese!

Note to those who may suffer from lactose intolerance and were priorly encouraged to eat cheese while visiting China: DON'T

Yeah well at least you didn't walk in on some guy 'evacuating' while smoking a cigarette to protect himself from the odor of one of the foulest squattie toilets I've ever seen. I skipped it. Ended up going at Pizza Hut, western toilet, soap, TP, the works.

Ironically, using the squatting position to go to the bathroom is the healthiest and most natural for the body. ;) Don't believe me? Go to Google and type in "squat toilet health" and you'll see some answers.

Having been there I will have to agree...but the alternative was not a good thing either AND I did love China a lot.



Oh man... that is pathetic. Germs. Talk about germs why don't you just put your nasty little ass cheeks right up against everyone elses that has ever sat on the toilet before you.
Squatties as I was privileged to call them during my whole year in China were the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Oh and the squat position is the more natural position for shitting. So, the Chinese have more fruitful, relaxing and sanitary poops than you stuck up USians.

The left hand right hand convention used in India ?
Anyone else ever experienced why you always shake with your right hand especially in India with the possible exception of a fencing tournament but not too many of those in Jaipur or Calcutta from memory

I have double hip replacements.... fortunately I strengthened my hip flexors and thighs before going to China. The fixtures were not the problem. There were a few clean places. However, most public restrooms were as described, with piles of poo, pee, and lots of spectators pointing. I was, after all, in the middle of China and I was one of the very few blondes in the area.

Hahaha I used to live in China! Five years wasn't long enough for my mom to get used to the public toilets, especially those with no locks.In Singapore, there are notices in public toilets advising against squatting at sitting toilets. To each his/her own x)

The first one of these toliets that I used was in Russia about 15 years ago. No doors, Russian women using them with their skirts pulled up in back and flipped over their heads. My friend and I started laughing and got kicked out of the toilets which was just fine since they smelled awful!

I have spend 6 month in China. You are really lucky when you actually find a toilet with a door. Usually everybody can watch you :-o

I always get a kick out of the folks who say that squatting to take a dump is somehow "healthier."

Last year I went on a fishing trip to Costa Rica. When we got back to shore in some forsaken area of the jungle, I had to take a crap. It started raining and I had to find some privacy in the jungle. I found a spot near a boulder that had this really deep hole. I draped my raincoat on the rock and dropped trou. Just as I was finishing up, some wind blew my coat into the damn hold. I ran back to the boat and got my rod and reel to fish for my coat. My buddies were howling and said there is no way you're wearing that coat again. I said, "Screw the coat, my damn lunch is in the pocket!"

They are all throughout Italy in petrol stations and other places.

In 1997 I was in Bosnia on a civilian Police assignment. We were in route from Zagreb to Vokavar and we stopped at a highway rest area and I saw my 1st "Bomb Site" aka squat toilet, a hole in the floor with a place to put your feet a bucket of water and a brush, to clean up the site befor you left.

I didn't even see bombsight toilets in Libya in the 1960s.

Even THEY had advanced beyond this.

Although I prefer Western toilets, they are not that bad. They take some getting used to, but there are surely worse things in American who has lived in the Middle East for 8 years.

hahaha believe it or not we still use that in my country, but we use a wood one :P

You are a lucky one... The more rural you get, the less toilets have doors... and the walls separating the cubicles are up to the height of your hip. Dare you stand up and wipe everyone will see you....
Also lucky in the sense your poo dropped to into a solitary hole made just for you, instead of a trough where you can see the person squatting in front of you's poo sliding down.
Also girls... don't wear playsuits. Been there.

@stan.... way to be ignorant! can YOU find evidence that says western toilets are actually healthier than squat toilets?
haha. no.
going china soon, can't wait to experience the squat! wish me luck!

everything about this is true.

I've used these ceramic squatty potties many times in Russian public restrooms. They had them for the students at the university I attended for a year.
It's important to have your own toilet paper in case none is provided. I never had a problem with balancing, but the public toilets did tend to be pretty filthy. Pulling my pantlegs up and catching them under my knees worked well to keep them out of the filth. Or if I was wearing boots and had them tucked in, it wasn't an issue. I had my very own squatty-outhouse in Siberia for five months. It was nothing like the squatty described and pictured above. It was a small wooden typical outhouse structure, but with no seat, just a hole cut in the floor. Mine was new and I kept it fairly clean, so it was alright. I've seen some really scary and disgusting outhouses out in Siberia, with a board on each side to stand on, and a hole large enough to fall into the pit of filth below. It was winter, and there was ice built up on the boards where people had missed and it had frozen. I worried about slipping and falling in, but it never happened. If you looked down the hole, there was a huge stalagmite made of frozen you-know-what growing up from the floor of the hole. That's pretty typical of a public outhouse in remote parts of Siberia and the Far East. But I'm an adventurous type and it didn't really phase me. I only realized this was unusual when I took a trip with a bunch of friends to Taiwan where they had clean squatty potties, and hardly anyone else in the group would use them. I compared it to my Siberian experiences and was baffled that it was such a big deal. But then, I also have gone on a two-day road trip in Mongolia where there were no restrooms. You just had to walk away from the group, turn your back to them, tie a jacket around your waist, squat, and do your business in the open wilderness. No hole, no bushes or trees. Nothing but open fields of grass as far as you can see. That one was a stretch for me. I guess the disgustingness, scariness, and intolerability of a situation all depends on what you're comparing it to, on what you've already experienced.

I think people make it sound like the squatter toilet is something to despise and something inferior to nice clean western toilets. I tell you I've been to public toilets in London and wouldn't want anyone the experience... Nothing can be nastier than a peed-down, shat-down toilet seat that you can't even avoid, you don't even dare to lift up... Even if the squatter is nasty, at least only your shoes touch it. I spent three months in Turkey and though many places have Western-style toilets, many would only have squatters, I even had to use on on a boat once. I don't say it was the most comfortable thing I ever did, but it wasn't THAT horrible. You have to get used to it, and it is not impossible to do so. Millions of people have grown up using squatters and they are still fine. :)

Visiting Uganda in 1998 I was at a place that had three stalls. Two stalls had holes that were more basic than the one pictured. The other had a western style pan, but no flusher (you poured recycled water from a bowl to flush). While using the pan my nob touched the inside of it. After using it I got splashed in the eye while pouring waste water down to flush it. I used the squat stalls after that.

Americans of insanity! In China, as for us two bricks are used simply as our washrooms.

The factory I used to work at had these kind of "facilities" installed to "increase productivity".

The said "if your sitting down to take a dump, you can play games on your phone, text people, read the papers etc. If your squatting with towels in one hand and your trousers in the other, your going to want to be done as quickly as possible."

I couldn't really argue with that.

I experienced these toilets at an airport in China, personally I'd have no problem with them apart from the fact the toilet smelt worse than the older public toilets you can find in rural areas of the UK (which I avoid at all costs), were overfilling with pee and I couldn't figure how to use one while holding a coat and bag? As for western toilets, the chance of catching something when sitting on them is very slim in the UK and you can always hover.

The first time I had to use it, it was an emergency (diarhea). I didn't know how to do and litterally splashed the wall behind me. A complete catastrophe...

That is the most accurate account of a squat toilet I have ever read. Could not stop laughing.

Apparently, none of you have ever been camping in a "rough it" area where you must dig your own "cat hole" or been in scouting where they most common latrine is a slit trench. The military is fond of those, too.

Cat holes and slit trenches are still better than your description, though.

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