Monday, May 21, 2012

Our China-fabulous Bathroom

I mentioned that last week our toilet stopped flushing, and when our landlord came by he said he would replace it right away. By “right away” he really meant 10 days later, but whatever – we were just surprised he was actually going to buy a new toilet! Last night a plumber showed up, extracted the old toilet in about 5 minutes, and hauled the new toilet upstairs. It was shiny-white and decorated with flower decals, including one inside the toilet bowl! Not only does it flush, it actually has water in it so the flush is effective! The seat isn't broken, there's no mold, and did I mention it is shiny-white?
Old, tired, worn out potty
New, flowery toilet. Doesn't it look so shiny?  Especially compared to all the other not-shiny around it...
In honor of our new toilet, I thought I would tell you a little about the rest of our China-fabulous bathroom. Actually, as China bathrooms go, it's really pretty good. Our friend once walked in and said, “Wow, this bathroom is so nice. It's so big!” I understood her admiration when I saw her bathroom - the size of your average toilet stall with barely enough room to stand behind the door to shower. The sink was around the corner next to the kitchen. Comparatively, our bathroom is definitely roomy. There is even space for the washing machine in the corner.
In springtime the workers are busy drowning the grass, so our water is often off for most of the day. We save dishwater and Juliana's bathwater for flushing. The washer comes in handy for storing these basins, because Juliana would love nothing more than to dump the water all over the floor. We also keep some clean water in a coke bottle under the sink for washing hands.
When I say drowning, I do mean drowning
Our bathroom also has character, compliments of the pipes running all around the walls. Another friend declared it the “pipe-iest bathroom” she'd seen in China. These pipes make very convenient towel racks and shelves for bath products, toilet paper, cleaning products, laundry supplies, toys, and anything else that winds up in the bathroom.
The washer and the storage pipe behind it.  Last fall I painted a sunset on the wall to cheer things up a bit.
There are no windows in the bathroom, which has its advantages. For example, my Yangzhou and Weinan apartments both had windows in the shower area. In Yangzhou, the window was so loose the shower curtain flapped in the cold breeze, even after I taped it and covered it with plastic wrap. I didn't shower much in the winter. In Weinan, our shower window looked directly into our neighbor's shower window about 10 feet away. Thank goodness for blinds (and people who actually use them).

The downside of no windows is that there is also no ventilation. Well, one pipe has some holes in it that are supposed to serve as ventilation. Unfortunately we had to cover it (with plastic wrap and a rubber band) because every day when our neighbor smoked in his bathroom, it smelled like he was smoking in ours. So no ventilation except the slats in the door where Juliana likes to kneel outside and peer in, visiting with whoever is in the bathroom, should they be so rude as to not let her in with them.

Like most Chinese bathrooms, we don't have an actual shower, just a hot water heater with a shower head in between the sink and the toilet. The floor is slightly tilted toward a drain in the middle, which also serves as a drain for the washer-hose. A shower and a self-cleaning bathroom all in one! The self-cleaning part is a little sketchy though, because the constant water on the floor plus no ventilation leads to mold and scummy-brown tiles.

Since our sink doesn't have hot water, Kevin used some random pieces of metal to contrapt a device to hook the shower head over the sink. He used other random pieces of metal and a coat hanger to hang Juliana's baby tub up on the wall and some other random pieces of metal to form another towel rack and formed some “real” shelves by balancing random pieces of wood on the pipes. Yep, if there's one word for our bathroom it's classy. That, or resourceful.
Towel racks and bathtub hanger
Our bathroom has some negative points, though. 1. Mold. 2. Roaches. I don't know which one I like less. Yes, I do – roaches. I don't care if they are “clean” bugs and the mold is more likely to kill us – they are gross. Apparently the roaches were busy multiplying during winter holiday because when we came back, they made their appearance in full force. Every time I went into the bathroom two or three roaches would run across the floor or the walls or the toothbrush. The toothbrush!! I never realized how many cracks there were in our bathroom walls until I saw the roaches running into and out of them. We stopped them up best we could with toilet paper. Kevin said the walls must be filled with roaches, a lovely image that has haunted me ever since. Fortunately, now that the weather is warmer, the roaches seem to be venturing back outside and leaving our bathroom more or less alone. Some days I don't even see any roaches!

Oh yes, and there is the horrible smell that comes up from all the drains. That's kind of unpleasant.

But now our bathroom has a shiny white toilet (with flower decals). Not only that, our kindly landlord gave us a new toilet brush – clear plastic filled with water and fake flowers. It really gives our bathroom just the finishing touch I was looking for.


Candy said...

What a pretty potty!
I'm rather glad the roaches didn't move in until after I was there.

Nate and Molly said...

ROACHES! You live a true *m* life. ;)

Anna said...

Eish. I HATE roaches. Seriously. Worst ever. I cringed while reading about them. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Oh, but nice new toilet. =)