Public Pooping (China)

China – Wuhan ~ 2012

A move to a different country is difficult, you have to contend with a different time zone, a different language and a whole different culture. It can be pretty hard, but eventually you adapt. You get to know the layout of your city; you get a favourite café, pub and a place to hang out…slowly you learn that McDonalds isn’t the only thing you can relate to (not that you don’t return every so often/all the time).

Well this is the kind of struggle I encountered when I spent time in China back in 2012/2013. China (minus Shanghai) was not the super developed and technologically futuristic mega-state the Western media had led me to believe. It was in fact, very undeveloped and most of the time exasperatingly difficult to navigate. Sure, it was great that everyone thought I looked like David Beckham (I don’t), but even that wore thin pretty quick.

But after some time I got a little more acclimatized; it was never home (hence my short stay) – but I did start to achieve a small sense of normalcy eventually…it was the little things that helped to make this happen, one of which was that every Wednesday I would catch the bus into town to deliver some letters to my Mother and Grandma back home (I know, I know! I’m such a cutie pie!)

Leo GIF

Anyway, so here’s the story…

It was one of those Wednesdays, nothing really out of place – I had spent the entire bus journey staring at the caged chickens some guy had brought for the ride, whilst the rest of the bus stared at me. I also wondered where the smell of fresh shit was coming from…seriously, urgh, what is that?! Oh yeah…the chickens. Silly me!

Eventually the trip was over, so I locked off my nostrils (the smell of street food has the potential to be WAY, WAY, WAY worse than anything a chicken could eject from its anus) and also turned up my earphones (because, China). I was ready, so I began my walk down the busy, bustling street; as angry street sellers waved and screamed in my general direction, (thankfully all I could hear was Nirvana.)

When I got to the post office I did my business, (which was largely made possible through a series of nods and gestures), after this I said my goodbye and stepped back out. I always had an enormous sense of well-being after this, not sure why – I guess I just felt like an all-around good guy (aka Mommy’s boy) afterwards, either way I always had a spring in my step and a smile on my face, the world felt right and the sun seemed to shine brighter – which is weird because you can never really see the sun, thanks to the MADE IN CHINA pollution.

However this time around my good mood didn’t last long…

As I am waiting at the lights, I see someone in the middle of the road in the bush covered “island”, on first sight it appears to be some unfortunate soul with a severe deformity, I feel bad (naturally) and I try not to stare (after all, I was taught it was rude to stare at someone just because they look different…the irony isn’t lost on me!) But I can’t tear my eyes away! This guy has some kind of mutant style spike coming out of his lower back! It actually looks kind of cool in a way…can I say that? But it did! I wonder if maybe he has a fully developed tailbone or something… who knows?! But wow…I haven’t ever seen a thing like that before! JESUS, JOHN – STOP FUCKING STARING! IT’S RUDE!

Staring 2 GIF

Okay…okay…well…maybe just one more time…I shouldn’t have, as that’s when his crusty tail fell to the ground and he stood up – “URGHAAAAWOW-NOOO!”

Crazy Reaction GIF

You could say the penny dropped I guess, but it certainly wasn’t a penny that parted with his backside. I suppose I was naïve, I hadn’t ever witnessed a fully grown human take a shit before, but I was filled with confusion…after all, there was a public toilet in the post office I had just left. Why did this asshole have to do it for all the world to see? (Please note: I’m not calling him an asshole, I’m sure he’s a swell chap ~ I’m literally talking about his ass hole.)

So, anyway…once I had threw up a couple of times I took the bus back with tears of self pity still in my eyes. I told my friends later and they found it revoltingly hilarious, rather than life-scarring, guess you had to be there. Should go without saying that I send emails now, no one is getting a letter ever again…it’s not safe out there. 

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64 thoughts on “Public Pooping (China)

      • HaHaHa!! Wow. I guess growing up with 2 older brothers makes me take things in a different way cause that just made me laugh so freakin hard. That’s when you wish you had an extra roll with you to throw at him and say “dude, you need to do something with that!” I can’t believe people do that kind of thing. I’ve obviously led a very sheltered life in my little corner of the world. 😊

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  1. Oh wow haha the same thing happened to me when I was visiting Sri Lanka! I literally saw my life flash before my eyes. Glad to know I’m not the only one who experienced something so…shitty.

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  2. Ah I know exactly what you mean! I live in China (Nantong, about an hour away from Shanghai). The shit really hit the fan after I had been here for a month, and I was sorely tempted to just throw in the towel and head back to the States. I couldn’t believe the lack of hygiene and the ordeal that was the bathroom every time I was too far from home to just wait :`( Now after 4 years in China I hardly bat an eye at folks popping a squat in the street.

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    • I was in Wuhan, in Hubei province ~ I was only there for about 7 months so I suppose the culture shock element didn’t ever settle! Hats off to you for enjoying four years there, you must have acclimatized! I have good memories…minus the poop!

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  3. Lol… I am speechless… I guess I wouldn’t know what my reaction would be if I were in your shoes. I am used to seeing children do that here in Philippines but a grown up man… hmm… err… oh well.

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  4. I’ve never been to China myself so I can’t say I’ve witnessed anything similar, but my brother saw someone take a shit on the subway in Beijing. If I saw something like that I think I would just have to stop and laugh.

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  5. Oh that is funny! And gross! Great retelling!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I can only hope to tell stories so well (but hopefully none will involve defecation!)

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  6. A friend of mine travelled thru South America a long time ago. She talked about having no bathrooms to go to during bus trips thru the Andes. The women would simply drape their many skirts around them and “go” on the side of the street. She herself would try to go behind a building to be discrete. But the boys would follow her and watch her do her thing probably wondering why she was trying to hide out!

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    • Just a totally different culture I suppose, the west makes a big deal out of covering that shit up (gross pun not intended but I’ll leave it there anyway!)

      Thanks for the story, I want to go to South America! I imagine that situation is less of a nightmare for a guy! Hope you enjoyed reading my tale!

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  7. So now the obvious next marketing scheme: a belt with human poop disposal bag dispenser attached. A friend who has traveled extensively in third world countries always wears long skirts when she travels so she can squat in private in public!

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  8. My brother travelled through India and said it was difficult to understand that grown men pooing in the street were invisible to everyone but him! On a more serious level though, the lack of adequate sanitation in the Third World was an indirect cause of the rape and deaths of two teenage girls in India and the stepping-up of a concerted campaign to make basic hygiene available to all.
    http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/jun/01/girls-toilet-rape-murder-anger-embarrassment
    On a lighter note- I really enjoy your exploits 🙂

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    • Particularly in India this is a huge problem, in China it’s less of an issue – for foreigners visiting it can be a shock, but in terms of the public issue of removal of waste etc, they’re not comparable (thank God), whether it caused rape or not, there should be a lot more emphasis on making living conditions decent for everyone the world over. It’s sickening!

      Thanks for drawing my attention towards that article, with all that said I am glad you enjoy hearing my tales!

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    • Hey there, We know that India have a lot of problems. We are working on it. We have a 1.3+ Billion population. in all these 60+ odd yers after Independence, the govts failed in providing basic facilities. Most of the villagers go out in the field because of the lack of the proper facilities. And its a shameful thing that such incidents happen. The new Modi govt is working on it.

      And on a lighter note, you can go through these articles and Youtube video from USA and LONDON 🙂

      http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/03/12/bowel-movement-bandit-akron-poop-cars_n_6855606.html

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  9. What a good boy you are! My boy went to Australia for 5 months and it was like pulling teeth to get him to send an email saying “hi, I’m alive”. I feel bad that your reward was a mind scaring vision!

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    • hahaha! I have a sister who is the same as your son in that respect, my Mam always says “it’s just nice to know your daughter isn’t dead in a ditch somewhere”…so I guess I learned from that, haha!

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      • Yup. My kid wanted to surf with sharks. He can’t swim. Bugger came home and showed me videos of him trying to touch a shark, standing on the railing of bridge spanning a bottomless pit, and his evacuation from a typhoon. Is it to much to ask for an email saying “as of this moment I haven’t managed to kill myself.”

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  10. I just got back from visiting China for two and a half weeks… I never did, and don’t think I WOULD ever get used to those pants that the kids wear that have slits in the back and the front. And riding the bus is certainly a treat isn’t it?

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  11. In my writing class we actually talked about how public defecation was a problem in China! It was a really strange topic, but interesting. Feeling sorry for you that you had to see it in person!

    On the other hand, it’s nice that you send letters to your family 🙂 I always enjoy receiving post cards from friends when they travel places, and always delight in sending out mail as well. When I get text messages about a week later saying that they received it, they’re always really happy. Something about receiving handwritten mail just makes you feel so special.

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  12. Thanks for posting about this experience! I know that poop is a subject most people don’t want to talk about. I’ve been curious about how a westerner may react to open defecation that’s common in Asia and Africa. For me, it’s not surprising, I’ve seen children, men, women, openly defecate on the streets or in the woods. My reaction is usually of pity, that these people didn’t have access to latrines. My other reaction is of frustration, that no one is educating these people that open defecation can lead to public health issues (like water contamination). Your story proves that sanitation is still a huge issue in this world and that solutions are still needed. “We’ve learned that in some communities there remain cultural and social barriers that will require significant investments in behavior and social norm change to overcome, but also that once households commit to stopping open defecation, they can and will invest in moving up the sanitation ladder when they are offered products they want and can afford.” – https://www.devex.com/news/choosing-the-right-post-2015-sanitation-indicators-84219#.U_zB_o0Dhow.facebook

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  13. Have only been to Hong Kong & Macau. I’ve heard so many weird stories from friends about their trips to China. A Canadian Chinese friend of mine was conned to a bar. He met 2 Chinese students who claimed they want to learn English from him. He only had a beer but it cost USD 300.

    He said it was ridiculous and offered what he thought was reasonable. They insisted he had to pay. What is he did next was brilliant. He started yelling in English and ripped off his t-shirt like the hulk. Only then, they let him off.

    I think it would be a culture shock for anyone. Well, that is the fun part of traveling, I guess.

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  14. wow, i can totally relate! when i went to china — i was in xi’an, i think — it smelled of feces literally EVERYWHERE. media tricked me into thinking china was just as clean as an metropolis in the u.s., but no . . . i suppose we’ve both learned our lesson. 😀

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  15. Hey i’m from Wuhan! Though it is definitely not the cleanest city (actually far from it) in existence and unfortunately, some Chinese people are a long way from knowing things like common courtesy, sanitation, privacy, and basically knowing that poo-ing in public is a big no-no; both for the streets, and for those who witness such an unfortunate event. Regardless, I found this blog to be hilarious and relatable so thanks for the laughs!

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    • Hey Rebecca, nice to meet you! I taught at Jianghan University for a short while ~ maybe you know it? haha you are right, it ie funny for a foreigner because there is so much chance of a culture shock, with so many differences between daily life! Wuhan will always have a place in my heart though! 🙂

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  16. Omgosh wow! I’m half Chinese and been to Shanghai many times with my family and the things i see… it’s like arriving at a completely different planet where everyone stares at you (either in awe or genuine confusion) and the hygiene is definitely the biggest problem. I encountered something similar to you although NOT to that extent of putridness (i can’t imagine what i would’ve done if i witnessed such a sight)….. i was walking with my grandma on our way back from the grocers markets and we had to turn a corner and as we approached the smell of urine plummeted my nostrils. To be honest, i kinda mistook it for street foods (they do smell awful i must admit) and thought nothing of it. HOWEVER, turning the corner i saw a bunch of men scattered around peeing towards the bushes on the side. Grown men in their 30’s just going about their business. I thank the lord i forgot my contacts so it was pretty blurry and that they were facing the other way.

    but….. in saying that. apart from that, Shanghai is a pretty cool place to visit hahaha 🙂

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    • haha! Yeah, I actually love Shanghai – truly! But maybe that is because it was the total opposite to the place I was staying…a good ten to fifteen years behind I would say (AT LEAST!) I can totally picture, and resonate with your story hahaha, classic.

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      • Yeaa i agree! Most parts of Shanghai are still very old fashioned and haven’t caught up with the times. It’s cool to visit and understand the culture but not very practical to actually stay there for a long period of time haha

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  17. What someone else had to say about China: https://awesomebitch.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/blogs-about-why-china-is-disgusting/

    Guess I won’t be going to China anytime soon … but that wasn’t even on my travel list to begin with … I almost wrote “Beijing with” … I’m thinking along the lines of Mexico (again), Turks & Caicos, somewhere in Italy, or somewhere in France … China not even close! And with all this info that I’d pretty much heard anyway, well, doesn’t seem like it’s on the list … ever.

    Thanks for sharing the story. What a surprise that must have been! I think I’ll go have some chocolate pudding now. 😉

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  18. In Vancouver we have a very large Chinese population. I have seen many older Chinese women pop a squat on the side of the road and even outside the bus terminals. I’m good with bringing your traditions to our country…just not that one.

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  19. Omg! This was the most hilarious thing to read. I laughed my heart out!! It surely must had been the most unpleasant experience for you but it made me laugh with tears..

    Cheers!

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  20. Hilarious story!
    I’m also adjusting to life in a new country (Vietnam), lots of weird things have happened here but, so far, no public pooping… I don’t know if I’d survive the public pooping.

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