Saturday, August 22, 2015

Minor Inconveniences

You know this thing about not flushing used paper down the toilet bowl? It's still like that in many parts of China. Nothing to do with being uncivilized. It's everything to do with efficiency. The flush and sewage systems aren't great, especially in mountainous regions where water pressure is usually weak unless the pumps generate enough strength, regardless of how fancy one's accommodation is. So it makes more sense to use the toilet bowl to dispose of bodily excrement, then throw the paper into the bin provided. That explains the stink of toilets in China. Sewage chokes and flooding are common occurrences. The irony of the name Shangri-la.

Okaay. I can't deal with that stench of toilets. That's why I brought along stacks of disposable bio-degradable dog-poop bags. FOR US TO USE. Especially important when we're not in the mountains and have to share a toilet in a house or an inn. Sure, it's shared by us, known faces, since we'd occupy all available rooms including the attached bathrooms. But knowing one another doesn't mean we accept each other's toilet habits. Ground rules have to be set. That common toilet has to be kept as pristine as possible. It's working great so far.

The thing about mountain towns. Electricity grid shut-downs are part and parcel of daily life in Zhongdian. The city councils would do it without warning. Luckily those last for about six hours. There were many times when they do it for more than a day, and once, four days at a stretch. But those, they at least notify the town in advance.

Now this, I can deal with. I've learnt to charge phones, cameras, torches, and all electronic gadgets whenever possible. I've enough power banks to see me through for 72 hours. However, I'm so busy that in reality, there's little need to turn on phones or whatever. What use do I have for electronic gadgets in the mountains? The guides are my maps and the compass and animals are all that's necessary. It's completely different from how hysterical I'll go if my flat in Singapore is deprived of electricity for more than 24 hours. Everything there is operated by a flick of a switch or a touch of the button. *shudder*

In the larger scheme of things, there'll be back-up generators to tide over for a bit. Many eateries have learnt to still use traditional gas tanks under their stoves, as well as charcoal and matches. Otherwise, businesses suffer terribly. Shower heaters and all that are still powered by solar energy. Out of the mountains (where daily showers aren't needed...) into town, I've switched to showering at night and quickly. My usual six-minute shower became four minutes flat. Hurhurhur. Cannot don't shower daily lah! That's maybe for winter when it goes down to -17°C.

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