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Not quite a royal flush

By Craig Mcintosh ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-02-27 07:31:20

I could see it from the owner's point of view, too. The size of these hutong homes means there is not a great deal of space to play with. In many ways, combining the rooms of the home that most require water, paper, a plunger and an extractor fan makes sense.

We chatted with the landlord for a while. "There is a public bathroom just around the corner," he said, before suggesting: "You could just use the one in the house for emergencies."

I admired his spirit, but saying that didn't help sway me one bit. Frankly, a toilet emergency is the last thing I want to experience in a kitchen or a public hutong bathroom. Once he had put both those images in my mind there was no going back.

My mother in the United Kingdom was suitably sarcastic when I told her later that day about how our apartment viewings had gone.

"Just imagine, you could wash the dishes while you shower," she suggested. "Or read a cookbook on the toilet. Kill two birds with one stone."

I'm just glad my father wasn't available to join the conversation on Skype that day, as his reaction would have been far more vulgar.

As we left the hutong courtyard, our hearts heavy due to the fact our search for a new home was still not over, we promised to keep in touch with the landlord. And we did. We heard several weeks later that he had followed our suggestion and replaced the orange curtain with a sliding-glass partition, to separate the kitchen and bathroom areas.

By then we'd already signed an agreement on another apartment. It was too late for us to reconsider our decision, but since then I'm told the place has been rented to a woman from the United States.

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