Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cultural Conundrum #8: Lightning Round!

Since I've been a little sluggish with posts recently, I figured I owe you an extra-special one this time. So, instead of giving you one cultural conundrum I've decided to give you FIVE!



1. Buses get really full. I mean REALLY full. At full capacity you don't have to hold on to the bars because if the bus makes any sudden stops there is no room for you to move -- as if you're in a bus filled with packing peanuts.

I often laugh out loud when the bus stops at a bus stop and some people have to work their way from the middle of the bus to the door. As of yet I haven't seen anyone else laugh about this. I don't understand why. It's funny!

2. Tap water isn't safe to drink. It isn't treated and tested like it is in the States. Either you boil it or buy bottled water. Many people drink hot water or hot tea.

3. Most people use Kleenexes when they eat because the food makes their noses run. It's strange. Even when I'm not eating spicy food my nose almost always runs here. Either I'm subconsciously being convinced that I need to use Kleenexes because everyone else is, or there's something else in the food that causes it.

4. The toilets here are holes in the ground.

Unless you go to an airport or a really nice hotel, you have to use one of these "squatty potties." You simply squat and do your business. It's also good for building up those quads.

Thankfully, the international student dorm here has Western "sitting" toilets. But I'm fairly certain that as soon as you venture out of the dorm you won't find Western toilets within a 10-mile radius.

And don't ask me what the lavatory in a moving train is like. Let's just say you better make sure you're wearing some old shoes before going in.

5. You can't flush toilet paper down most toilets. Notice that trash can in the picture above?  You guessed it!

Unfortunately, the sewage system can't handle toilet paper in most places. Lots of bad things happen if you try to put toilet paper down the toilet.

And speaking of toilet paper, public restrooms don't give you any. You have to carry some with you wherever you go (or hope that you don't have to go). If you can swallow your pride, random strangers will probably loan you some if you really need it.


  1. Okay, so I was going to skip posting a comment because I thought maybe you were getting tired of hearing my musings, but when I read this, I had to comment. While this post is interesting, I am commenting on something that my friend, Sunny, and I talked about at work one day.
    Her parents went to China sometime at the beginning of the year so we were swapping knowledge from a third party perspective. She said her mom was disgusted by the toilets because you had to squat, so she just did not go for about a day. I asked why and she told about the "holes in the ground" and now I know what she means. She also talked about having to carry toilet paper around as well.
    One thing she mentioned that probably has not happened to you yet, was seeing little kids with outfits on that look like long underwear, but the part where the bottom would be closed, is completely open. Have you seen anything like that? This goes along with your story because the kids would just squat in the street or wherever they might be to use the restroom. That sounds disgusting, but Sunny's mom saw it happen.

    Sorry that was so long, but another culture's sewer system is fascinating!

  2. Haha, you're absolutely right! I'm saving that for another post in the future. Most kids around here wear the pants with the hole in the butt. I've seen a number of them squat in the streets and do their thing. That's something I'm still not used to, haha.

    What I want to know is what happens if the kid goes when they're sitting in a car or in a char or if someone is holding them. Maybe they're naturally trained not to go in those situations. I don't know.

  3. Good Morning! Just wanted you to know how much fun we have reading your "conundrums". What a wonderful time you must be having.We start north to Alaska Thursday but will have our computer so we can keep up with your blogs.

  4. I'm glad you're enjoying it! Thanks for tuning in!

    And have a great time in Alaska...sounds exciting!

  5. "And don't ask me what the lavatory in a moving train is like."

    I'll tell you. Thankfully they have a handle that is in front of you, with a piece of Kleenex around the handle, you can be immovable, do your business and you'll be ok. But the train will shake rattle and roll when you least expect it. So the second you let go of the handle, expect the train to slam on the break... and ... I'll leave the rest to your imagination!