View From a Chinese Bathroom

Our apartment here in China is spacious and has everything we could need to get by comfortably. However…

The drains smell like something died long ago but no one has been able to find the remains. Apparently, poor plumbing isn’t out of the ordinary in this part of the world but luckily, the bathroom sink comes with a built-in stopper that we can close after each use to help keep what can only be described as the fumes at bay. Of course, if we ever forget to close it before leaving the apartment (a frequent occurrence), we’re welcomed back with the wonderful smell of a slow and painful death. Thankfully, after a quick sprint from front door to bathroom and an adjustment to the stopper, we can breath easier again. 

The cupboards underneath the sink are secondary culprits in this smelly debacle so they’ve been officially sealed off with caution tape securely fastened along the surfaces to ensure they won’t be opened during the remainder of our stay. 

Our bathroom.

The shower drain is the next devilish sidekick in this onslaught of stench. The shower, have I mentioned, is not a shower in the traditional sense but rather a shower head in the corner of the bathroom conveniently located beside the toilet—another common characteristic in this part of the world. No more should-I-or-shouldn’t-I decisions about whether to pee in the shower or not. We’ll take that little victory. To deal with this piece of the problem, we simply move our bathroom garbage can over the drain while the shower’s not in use and move it away when it’s time to tackle some other unpleasant aromas. China’s awfully humid don’t you know.

Now we thought we had done everything to make the room as bearable as possible, but of course there is one final ‘kick me’ sign on the back of our situation. The two bolts that are found at the base of most toilets are missing. If they were ever there in the first place is—and will always be—unknown to us. This begs the question as to whether the toilet is actually secured to floor or not. My guess would lean towards not, so we’ll just have to avoid excessive shifting when using the thing. We’ve clogged these holes with DIYed toilet-paper-plugs, which has been the greatest help in reducing the smell. 

But all discomfort aside, this is an apt metaphor for how far we’ve already come in this adventure. Our first few days and weeks here were unpleasant at times, but we’ve found ways to adapt and make the best out of our situation. And even though there are still moments of unpleasantness, we can fix these with a quick acceptance of the hardship, an appropriate amount of time to deal with it, and a breath of fresh air. 

We’ll hold on to our metaphorical toilet-paper-plug in the less enjoyable moments of our time here, but we know if it ever becomes dislodged that the discomfort is only temporary and all it takes is a little re-adjustment and a good attitude. 


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