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Everything you need to know about squat toilets

By Anna Bradburn

In October of 2017, myself and several friends from Canada had theAnna Bradburn stands in front of a harbor and bridge pleasure of travelling to China to attend the 13th World Dragon Boat Racing Championships in Kunming. The majority of us had never been to Asia before and were all very excited about visiting this very distant part of the world. 

It was upon our arrival at the Kunming airport in the ladies' room that we first encountered squat toilets. There was a sign written in Chinese and English in one of the stalls stating to please not stand on the toilet seat. It took a few seconds to think why someone would stand on the toilet seat when we realized not everyone takes care of business in quite the same way!

We soon learned that squat toilets were the norm in many parts of China; this style of privy can be found everywhere in public restrooms. Unaccustomed to it, we women did our best to avoid using them. Eventually, however, the pressure was on and we had no choice. We were cheering on team Canada at the dragon boat races when the need became too urgent to ignore. 

There they were, a dozen or so little porta-potty buildings lined up in a row. Only these were porta-squatties, not potties! One of us graciously held the other’s rain poncho and back-pack while the other mused over the wonders of China in the loo. 

Now, here’s a blind perspective on using squat toilets. Yes, using a squatty without sight. This involves walking up the steps inside the stall and then positioning your feet accurately in a squat position. Then there’s the challenging task of locating the flusher and the trash basket for soiled tissue. It is possible to do this with some dignity, with lots of direction from a good friend!

My advice for using the squatty: watch where you step, have your own tissues handy and be prepared with hand sanitizer. I also suggest not reading while doing your business in a squatty, unless you are superb at holding a squat position!

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Read more articles from the October, 2018 issue of Insight:

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