Peeing in Public: China’s Dirty Streets

I gasped when I rode by the adult woman squatting, her bare ass facing the road, her gaze upon the green fields out yonder. I pedaled my red, gearless, child-size bike past her and onto the busy roadway toward Shiling, the village north of Peizheng College, and reminded myself not to be shocked. I’ve squatted numerous times before – in wheat fields and alongside the highway each time I made the drive between Bend, Oregon and my parents’ house – but the difference between this woman and I, is I might rather pee my pants than give an audience a front-row show.

This sight really shouldn’t catch me off guard by now. It seems it doesn’t matter whether I’m strolling through a village, walking down a crowded sidewalk or waiting at the bus stop – the ground (or garbage can, or tree, or…) might as well be a public restroom in China.


Peeing in public is an accepted act, it seems, for a child under say five (and that’s being generous), and parents often aid their children: I’ve seen fathers instruct their sons to urinate into a manmade pond in the middle of a nicely landscaped park in Guangzhou’s business district; I’ve witnessed a mother hold her small child over a garbage can and help her to aim for the hole, not 12 inches from where I sat waiting for my bus.

The Chinese have even manufactured crotch-less pants for babies under a certain age – I’ve seen toddlers daunting them, some with a diaper sagging through the bottom of their britches, others free to go wherever they please.


Photo credit goes to

Urinating isn’t the only thing the streets are good for. Spitting loogies and blowing snot are even more common, sound effects and all. I guess the pollution makes it a necessary evil, or something like that. I’m still not convinced there’s much of an excuse for peeing in public unless you’re miles from a restroom and you at least make an attempt to hide yourself, but what do I know?

I once saw a girl of about 12 remove her school uniform and relieve herself on the fancy brick decor surrounding a tree on a busy street and I remember thinking, I think she’s a bit too old for that. Now I’ve seen a full-grown woman in her 30’s strip her britches and let loose, and unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last time.

Note: Featured photo courtesy of The B Family AdventuresI wanted to post a picture for proof of this absurdity, but I can’t snap a proper picture without looking like a complete pervert. And, even when I do decide to take my chances, I can never quite lift my jaw from the grimy street and place my camera to my eye in enough time to even try. I did, however, manage to get this terrible shot (the first one) as an afterthought walking by, and then I felt like I should be the one going to jail for my indecency. Oh well.


  1. Ah yes…the joys of Asia. One of the aspects that I do not miss, but thanks for sharing.

  2. Tammy Barrett says:

    Very interesting……makes me think of a story I could write about truck drivers peeing. And now we know why they remove their shoes when the go into their homes.

  3. Mark says:

    As someone who has lived in China for over three years, I’m embarrassed to say it doesn’t even phase me anymore. It’s only after I get back from some place in Europe, North America or more civilized countries like Japan do I realize “Haha wow I am living in a goblin camp.”

    • jessicajhill says:

      Haha I’m sure after that long in China many things would become normal…you just have to remember to always take your shoes off!

      Where in China are you?

  4. Har+new says:

    I found your blog via Daily Post. One thing that disturbs me about peeing in public in the states is there’s a chance if you’re caught you have to register as a sex offender. That’s crazy!

  5. Dina says:

    OMG. That was educating, I have never been to China…

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