When traveling abroad and exploring foreign soil, you begin to realize that it's the little things you take for granted...like the comfort of your own toilet. Who knew that one of the things I would miss most while spending nearly two weeks in China was the shiny, white, porcelain toilet in my bathroom at home? Not a fancy toilet by any means, but one that is more than 1 inch from the floor, sit-able rather than squattable, and most importantly--a toilet that flushes toilet paper.
Whoever you are and wherever you roam, the saying goes that you should do as Romans do. While I have always considered myself someone who makes every effort to adapt to the local habits of the countries that I visit, I must admit that squatting over this toilet was not a pleasure that I endured. Not because I was disgusted that the toilet wasn't what I was used to back home (I honestly didn't expect it to be the same), but because I couldn't really figure it out. It's been nearly 20 years since I've been camping and thus, I truly believe that I have lost the ability and instinct to squat. It's no longer in my DNA. I mean, do you completely de-pant? Take one leg out? What if I fall in? All valid questions, in my opinion.
While struggling with the "To squat or not to squat" monologue running through my mind when I entered this stall, I began to wonder what the Chinese must think of Western toilets. I wondered if sitting down on a seat that a million other people have sat on seemed as unappealing as squatting over this toilet seemed to me. Arguably, the squattable seat actually is cleaner and more green friendly than American toilets (though, any of my family members will tell you that I'm a germaphobe and carry toilet seat covers in my back pocket).
Still, it lead me to the question of whether different is better or worse. The simple truth is that everyone's toilet is different. Yours is different from mine, ours is different from theirs, and better or worse depends on your preference. To be fair, not all toilets that I encountered were grounded like this one. For me, the lesson here was that the smallest insignificant thing that you wouldn't normally consider to be a luxury actually is. So next time you visit your bathroom, fully equipped with toilet paper, a little white seat that's a foot and a half from the ground, and flushability, be sure to send a little thanks to the toilet Gods of the Western World.