The bathroom is another one of those rooms that just embodies China to me. Along with the kitchen, when I think back to our experience in Beijing this year, I will think back to this bathroom. It’s a room that challenges your assumptions about “normal” life, which is something that China does well in many different settings.
The word “bathroom” doesn’t quite do the room justice. Like the living room and the second bedroom, it has a lot of purposes crammed into the same four walls. Of course there’s the toilet and the sink. But there’s also the laundry machine and shower head.
What makes this bathroom most distinct is that the shower isn’t separated in any way from the rest of the room. When you shower, water gets everywhere, and there isn’t anything you can do about it. The good news is that…
- There isn’t a ton of water pressure, so the spray radius isn’t that large. (Ok. I admit it’s a trade-off.)
- The drain works pretty well (although if you don’t cover it up afterwards a stench will emerge).
- There is an ever so slight inward slant to the floor.
All of these things combined keep the water pretty much contained. And once you realize there’s no harm in it, this way of showering becomes your new “normal.” The other great side effect is that Tian actually prefers that the toilet seat be left up so that it stays dry. American men, eat your heart out!
Oh, there is another thing I’m happy with. The plumbing in this building is good enough to accomodate flushing toilet paper. In almost every other apartment I’ve visited in China, you need to wipe, fold it, and then throw it in the trash. Not a big deal, but this is much nicer. Just like with the floor trackers in the elevators, this is just one little “luxury” that I appreciate. In China, you often have to forgo the little things, so when they actually work out, you tend to appreciate them all the more.