Oh, crap! 糟糕: Tzao Gao


The biggest difference between countries is not their style of politics but the little things,  ATMs, traffic signals, directions on a washing machine, but most important, the rules and expressions for using the toilet.

In the land of the free to pee, American public johns are not filled with signs about fines of how to squat or what to plop.


But in China? Signs and fines are as common as taxis driving on the sidewalks.

The nation also has a lot of fun vernacular for relieving oneself. While Americans might say, “I’m going to take a whiz”, in China, you’d say, “I’m bringing your kids for a singing lesson”.

Who farted? is replaced fàng pì (??), also an expression the Chinese use to mean bull crap . They’d also say  ??: Tzao Gao, literally “messy cake”.

No explanation needed.

My favorite signage is in Starbucks. Starbucks in Kunming have western toilets, which make points with foreigners like me, but frustrate locals who prefer to squat. The signage reminds me not to flush my paperwork yet reminds others to sit–not to put their feet–on the porcelain seat.


Failing to do so may get the  local barista to mutter a curse, such as: “Jiào n? sh?ng háizi zh?ng zhì chu?ng!” (????????) 

Translation? “May your child be born with hemorrhoids!”

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