Outdoor toilets an unused curiosity

Updated: 2006-12-10 14:14

Three outdoor toilets for males with no walls but equipped with a waist-level screen hiding a man's buttocks and waist from view have been erected on popular Foreigners Street in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, sparking controversy over their bold appearance.

The rounded four-urinal toilet occupies an area of two square meters. Each urinal has a 50-centimeter screen to block people's buttocks from the gaze of passers-by.

The environment-friendly toilet is made of withered grass and charcoal ashes and only costs 1,000 yuan (US$128), said Lu Xiaoqing, designer of the toilet.

"Just pull open the screen. It's easy and convenient and the height suits both men and children," said Lu.

The toilets were installed two months ago but are yet to gain acceptance on Foreigners Street, which is a local tourist attraction full of Western-style bars managed by foreigners.

Street peddlers prefer to go to an indoor public toilet instead of using the new-fangled toilets nearby. But street administrators assiduously use the toilets to set an example for the populace.

Sometimes the toilets are a necessary refuge. At other times they serve as an attraction where tourists laugh and take photos.

"Even though the toilets hide your private parts, you can still be seen by onlookers. I would be embarrassed," said a middle-aged teacher called Wang.

The toilet design originally comes from the UK. People will gradually accept it because it's convenient and good for the environment, said a street administrator named Yang.

However, Mark Binnersley, an English foreign expert in Beijing, was skeptical.

"I have never seen anything like this in the UK. I doubt many people would use them as we're quite a reserved country," said Binnersley.

Foreigners Street plans to erect more of the toilets in the street as they gain acceptance.

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