20-Jan-2004 -- Non-squat latrines – in rural China?
121 E 32 N is located temptingly close (<50 km at the closest point) to Shanghai, however one small obstacle lies between them – the 2 km wide Yangtze river. Telephone research indicated that there would be queues for the three or four ferry points we could identify so we decided to drive one way (a huge loop) and see if it would be possible to take a ferry back.
We set off by road at 7:30 am from Shanghai. Chinese New Year’s traffic on the Shanghai-Nanjing highway severely reduced speed and we were glad to get off the road at Wuxi and head N to the new bridge we hoped existed (and hoped was open to traffic). The bridge was there, open, and is now the lowest crossing point of the Yangtze. I remember formerly crossing the bridge at Jinjiang near Mt Leshan when this was the lowest crossing point. Reaching Jiangying, we found that the bridge was indeed open and we crossed to “Jiangbei” or north of the river where to our surprise we found that the Expressway from Nanjing to Nantong was open and so we had a very swift 40 minute motor down to Nantong, where we lunched on jiaozi.
From Nantong it was about another 10 km to the point where we had to leave metalled roads and continue along hard earth (sometimes concreted) farm tracks, to a point in the middle of huge flat fields scattered with farming settlements and two km to go according to the Garmin. A kindly looking fellow who was bending metal pieces (much cottage industry in these areas) agreed to look after our car. It took about an hours of navigating around ditches and farmhouses to bring us to 32N 121E, in the middle of an expanse of vegetable fields.
One post-script – I noted that all the outdoor toilets in this area had a peculiar feature. Rather than the ordinary “squat” variety common throughout china, all the toilets were constructed as follows: A deep pit is dug, surrounded by 2 m walls on 3 sides, roofed in thatch, no front door or means of closure – and typically facing a road or thoroughfare - , planks over the pit excepting the central section, a makeshift CHAIR or relocated CHAIR with a hole in the middle of the seat. Obviously this allows user in the area to do their “business” in a seated position (I have included a picture) My question is WHY are toilets in this small area (no idea how this spreads) build like this – at odds to the rest of China and the history of Chinas latrines. Was this some kind of “missionary position” imposed by the local mission station 100 to 150 years ago ?? Any suggestions of comments welcome.