Toilet Timing, Yu Gardens

This photo says so many things about life in China, I barely know where to begin. Let me explain. 
This is taken inside the main ladies toilet in the Yu Gardens (Yu Yuan), Shanghai's Number 1 tourist attraction. Each door has a digital clock telling you how long, in minutes and seconds, since the person inside it entered that cubicle. When you exit, and someone else enters, they reset to zero.

Why? Well, queueing in ladies toilets in China is unheard of. If you're in more of a hurry, just bustle and shove your way to the front, elbowing those with more patience and bigger bladders out of the way. But this toilet has more than 20 cubicles....which one do you shove your way forward to? This is where the clocks come in. You take a look, then I better off standing in front of the door with 4min45, or 3sec? Well, the 4:45 person is surely about to be finished. On the other hand, maybe they've got the Shanghai Daily in there, or they just like sitting. Alternately, the 0:04 person could be just 0:03 away from a flush! Or not. The suspense kills me.  I never know which one to choose so I have a panic attack and leave.

So, as you can see, the clocks make bugger-all sense, but they are technological. They look flash, and modern, although it's a shame the plumbing is still so ancient you have to throw the toilet paper in a rubbish bin.  And they do have a communist Big-Brother type feel about them. 'I should hurry up and finish my business because everyone knows how long I've been in here!' Except that it's more like...'Finally! A quiet spot away from the hordes......might just have a short nap while I'm here......Zzzzzzzzzzz'

So, I hope that explains a few things. A free web site helping all expatriate women, of all nationalities, share experiences and find resources for living in a foreign country. Success stories, blogs, expat confessions, readers' stories, special reports, a monthly inspirational newsletter and much more.

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