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Half Time: Chinese Apartment VS Sasha

[ 3 ] May 26, 2010 |

“Half time in the game of Chinese Apartment Vs Sasha and the Chinese Apartment has a clear lead of 4-1 with an amazing display of exploding toilets, power failures and flooding.  In the second half can Sasha regain some ground against this tough and persistent opponent?”


After the exploding toilet incident and power failure I was hoping that was all the apartment had install for me.  Yet despite my hope I had a persistent nagging feeling that maybe one day I would again return to my apartment to a foul smell and another Squat Toilet (affectionately named Squattie) Vesuvius Eruption.  My fears were quickly validated!

“Gurgle, gurgle, rumble, rumble, bubble, bubble” this was the soundtrack to my departure from my apartment to head to class bright and early at 8:00am. ‘Goodness why must the people showering upstairs have such a loud plumbing system!’  When I returned merely two hours later stepping into my bathroom, the origin of the noises was made pretty clear.  A layer of brown slime and water lined my shiny sorta cream (should be white) tiles. Like it had eaten some kind of bad meal the toilet had decided to yet again regurgitate all over my shower floor!

It could have been worse right!  At least this time there wasn’t crap lining the walls with newspaper stuck to it!  Instead this time I had clumps of grass (who knows why!???) and other clumps of…well I’m sure you can imagine the things that a toilet can regurgitate!

Over the next week, Squattie had apparently decided to go on rather an extreme diet and become a bulimic, regurgitating its contents (although most days not beyond the rim of the bowl) every time someone upstairs decided to use the water.


Now this apparent sewage blockage didn’t just make the toilet smell unpleasant it also put a real dampener on enjoying nice long hot showers (when the hot waters actually on of course).  You see, Squattie is a multi tasker acting both as food disposer and shower drain. 

Imagine my horror when going for a shower I see Squattie quickly fill up ready to overflow!  This after less than a minute!  Let me tell you it’s a right royal pain having a shower that should last no longer than 10 minutes last more like 30 in a routine that equates to having the water run for one minute (just enough time to get damp) then turn it off and leave it to drain for 5 minutes then turning it on for another 1 minute.  This routine is repeated over and over again until I’m at least clean enough to be out in public (to China standards at least).

Washing my hair was an almost an extreme sport, with me dangerously sliding across the wet tiles between the shower and the sink in an attempt to clean out the smog induced grease.  It turns out it’s not so easy washing your hair in a sink when a hair dresser is not doing it for you and your hair is increasingly approaching waist length!  Despite trying to dunk my head as far into the sink as I could, rinsing out the shampoo was an impossible challenge!

Now apparently the shower wasn’t at all content with being outdone by Squattie so it decided it would do it’s best to one up all the things the friendly toilet had thrown or rather flung in my direction.  The shower is failing but making a good effort with persistent cold showers and flooding my living room floor!

I first discovered that I would be living with cold shower every weekend for 4.5 months the first weekend I arrived in the freezing cold tail end of winter.  The temperature in my apartment was reaching temperatures no higher then 10 degrees Celsius and that was with the heater on full blast!  Needless to say those first few weekends of cold showers were pretty unpleasant.  Apparently having only one apartment occupied over the weekend doesn’t actually warrant leaving the hot water on!

As if freezing cold showers (which have caused me to yelp on more than one occasion) wasn’t enough my shower decided to give me a massive swimming pool for spiders on my living room floor.  It started out as a just a bit of water seeping through the tiles and walls into my living room, nothing 3 towels wouldn’t soak up after a long shower.  But for some reason (and I’m suspecting it may be coming from the pipes in the wall) I now have a constant Olympic size pool for spiders taking up a third of my living room floor!  Even the ladies in my building have mimed their exasperation of the constant pool of water on my floor.

It doesn’t seem to matter how many towels I use and how many bucket fulls of water I soak up the constant pool just will not dry up.  When I told my contact at the school and showed them the mess they merely said “from the shower” shrugged their shoulders and apparently that was all the insight or help I was going to get.  A mop at least to clean it up would have been nice!

“Mid way through the second half the Chinese Apartment is heading for a clean sweep victory with a lead of 7-1, Sasha will need a miracle to come out victorious!!!”

Now despite this rant and my frustration of this loosing battle against my apartment and the subsequent unlikelihood of it ever getting repaired, there are so many more positives to this situation then negatives! 

 “Like what” I hear you saying.  Well first of all I only spend a small part of the day disinfecting the floor around the toilet and I’ve got to the point where there isn’t even any point trying to clean up the pool of water on the living room floor, it will dry naturally eventually right!  Cold showers, well at least they prevent me from wasting water (maybe they should of adopted this strategy in Australia, the drought may of ended much sooner!)  Besides the plumbing issues and all the gaps in the windows that let in the ginormous mosquitoes I have a pretty cool apartment.

In the end having an apartment that decides to misbehave is a small price to pay for the amazing cultural experience that living and teaching in China is!!!

P.S. After writing this post I can say I have gone an entire week and a half without the toilet flooding the bathroom!!!  MAJOR ACHEIVEMENT!!!  How long it will last who knows!!!  

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About onurwaytravel: Colin has been travelling the world with his young family for the past 2 and half years. He runs a couple of websites all revolve around travel, family travel and digital nomadism. His websites include,, and now View author profile.

Comments (3)

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  1. [...] stations, in department stores, even in McDonald’s and KFC!  I even have a squat toilet in my Chinese apartment (when I tell people this they are usually left in a state of shock!)  However once you get used to [...]

  2. [...] cooped up in my apartment in Keqiao with cold showers on the weekends and a less than cooperative squat toilet, I decided that it was time for me to get away for the weekend!  Deciding to burden my English [...]

  3. Mike says:

    Hi Sasha – unfortunately you live south of the Yangtze river. As you know all houses/flats/apartments in the “south” are deemed to have warm(??) winters and so do not need community heating. Live where I do in Yinchuan -10deg outside and lovely and snug in my heated apartment.
    Sorry about your exploding squat, not nice, I can imagine, maybe a gasmask would help to cut out the worst of the odours. Enjoy your time in the Middle Kingdom

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