Monday, May 21, 2007

Loo with a view

My neighbourhood is generously supplied with public toilets (because many of the primitive hutong homes in the area are still without bathroom facilities of their own). When I first got here, they were pretty shabby affairs: cracked tiles and crumbling cement, no stalls (very communal!), no flush (the maintenance guys used to come around a few times a week with a hose), a characteristically pungent stench that could convulse your nostrils at a range of 100 yards. However, they have now all been expensively upgraded in preparation for the Olympics.

There's a particularly good one right next to the picturesque Bell Tower just down the road from me - the window from the Gents offers possibly one of the finest loo-views in the world. (And no, I don't routinely take a camera into the loo with me.)


moonrat said...

loo-views are a way of life.

also, have you heard they're making FOREIGN BABES IN BEIJING into a movie? if you haven't read this book, you might love it. most chinese expats cry with joy when they read it.

Froog said...

Oooh, oooh, another new commenter. I'm so excited!

However did you find me, Moonrat? Were you Googling for loo pictures?

I get the impression that 'Foreign Babes' is a bit 'chick-lit' for me. And not even any of my female friends has recommended it to me. Yours is the first positive review I've heard. I am tempted.... but I think I'll just wait for the film version.

I have so many unread China books on my shelf already. When you're living the China life yourself, there's less fascination in reading other people's accounts of it.

Anonymous said...

2nd time I've heard of/heard anyone recommend that book in last 24 hours. never even heard of it before!

and I disagree with froog. I enjoy reading others experiences that relate to mine. In fact, most of my favorite series of books are ones with which I identify here and now.

and that is a lovely view. I finally saw it from the rooftop deck of Drum & Bell. It's lovely from the courtyard, too, but even nicer peaking through the tree branches from the rooftop.

as far as I remember, the women's loo over there does not have this view.


Does this mean that you have to go out of your house every time you need to go to the loo?? And baths/showers? Do people also have to go outside their houses for those as well?
PS. happy to see more pictures, thanks!!

Froog said...

I don't have to go out to pee or wash; but some people in the more primitive housing around here still do. Bathing is necessarily a bit limited: there are cheap bath-houses around, but they're probably a once or twice a week luxury at best. For many Beijingers (and not just the hutong dwellers, I don't think) washing feet, hands, and neck with a damp flannel is about as good as it gets most days. Baths in private homes are still quite a rarity in China. Most houses and apartments these days have a shower, but it's usually pretty rudimentary (sharing a cubicle with the squat toilet, which serves as the drain); and people are often too thrifty about water consumption to use it every day.


OH MY GOD. I'm sure it's like that in many primitive areas in all countries. Even in Copenhagen there are many of the old apartments that have a toilet in the stairway and maybe a shower in the basement. Some even have to go out of their apartment building to get to the shower. And some of the old but renovated apartments have a tiny toilet and shower mixed similar to the one you describe people have in Beijin.
It must be a smelly place to live, especially with all the garlic people eat.