10 August, 2011
What's On HK

Sassy Opinion: No bathroom = hold it in please!

10 August, 2011

Since moving to HK from Australia there have been some obvious adjustments: mainly getting used to the crowds and the fact that there is a severe lack of space! However, there are some things that happen here that I will never understand that make me feel a certain amount of cultural shock.

Last week I was shopping with my sister-in-law who was visiting from Sydney, showing off the new home I call The Kong. In Times Square, we covered what felt like a million stores until everything started to look the same. After coming up empty-handed, we decided to call it quits and to console our retail egos with Green Tea Ice Cream from City Super – always a winner! We then parted ways and I hopped into line outside of Times Square to catch a taxi home. It was the late afternoon on a weekday and the usual buzzing crowd was in full swing. Taxis were slow to come by so with the line was close to stagnant, it was the perfect time to people watch.

After a good 20 minutes of taking in some normal Hong Kong happenings: couples fighting in public and girls retouching their make-up, my eyes caught onto something that I could only put down to a cultural “wonder”. Now that I think of it I wish I hadn’t seen it, and wish I could wipe it from my memory, but it was like a car crash, so horrific, but I had to watch.

A family was in line for a taxi with a child that was about 4 years old. He was not a baby, and judging from his size was breaking the toddler barrier. After a good complain, the mother picked him up and held him pressed against her chest clutching him under his knees. I thought that was such a super-weird way to hold your kid, but to each their own! Little did I know what was to come would kick super-weird in the face.

She walked towards the trees, which lined the cab rank, and after pulling his pants off encouraged him to pee into the tree. I was mortified on many levels. One, how anyone could believe this was acceptable behaviour in public and two, the proximity that this was taking place compared to me. No one said a thing. Eyes diverted away from the scene and there was even minimal staring. I didn’t think things could get worse, but the boy then started to poo, straight onto the pavement…Still nothing, no intervention from authorities, no nothing. Holding back my deep disgust and vomit I just prayed that it would end. Finally it did, pants came back on and they hopped back into line.

All I can say is, that if you ever catch a cab in front of Times Square do not stand anywhere close to the third tree from the front. It’s literally a health hazard.

Mei Mei moved to The Kong eight months ago from Melbourne. No she doesn’t have kangaroos in her backyard, but yes she does love vegemite. She has a super love for dodgeball and gets a kick out of the fact that the primary aim is to hit others with a ball. She has zero discipline for all things peanut butter and has an addiction for people watching – they never cease to amaze her. 

10 thoughts on “Sassy Opinion: No bathroom = hold it in please!

  1. Children weeing in public I’ve seen, but pooping is definitely the limit. I can’t believe no one said anything one the pooping started. Even dog owners are required to clean up after their dog.

    In Singapore, while queueing for the loo, I saw a lady have her child wee into a plastic bag, she then tied the bag and put it in the bin WTF?! Her child couldn’t wait for one more minute for a toilet? I felt sorry for the toilet attendant.

  2. Come to Africa and you will undersdans. Nothing shocking just a natural thing. Do you know how many people pee and poo when they go to the beach?
    Welcome back to the old days.
    Good article though. I love the style

  3. This is quite unusual to see in Hong Kong but I used to see it frequently in PRC. The dirt areas around trees served as a toilet for most kids. My favourite is the little kids with the backsides cut out of the onesies so they can “Go” more easily.

    Granted 4 is getting a bit old and it is never something you wish to stand and watch!

  4. if u need to go u need to go… i am sure mei mei has done some unacceptable things in
    public too… why doesnt she look at herself before judging others

  5. I’ve come across such a terrible public display too at an MTR station, where the child was helped to pee in a plastic bottle in front of a huge crowd, I found it totally disgusting at first, but later I just brushed it off thinking maybe the child had some health issue, but now after reading this article I certainly don’t think that was the case!

  6. I was raised in HK and never seen anything like that when I was a kid. Only recently when
    more people are coming from the mainland, do I witness such gross scenes. Kids pooping
    in sinks, peeing in bottles urgh

  7. Not something an average Hong Kong person would do to their poor kids, unless in the countryside where there’s no toilets. To be honest, I would be disgusted, and won’t watch any of it, don’t think that woman is local but then again, when can this civilized /not civilized debate thing stop? We don’t have to watch any of it, we can also walk away. We can also call the authority if we are bothered by it, but if we don’t, then who else would do it?

    If you are raised that certain behaviors are acceptable (e.g. burping), then of course you won’t even think twice about it. Seen many ‘civilized’, ‘educated’ people doing rather rude and terrible stuff, but my definition of rude and terrible stuff could be vastly different from your standard.

    Girls touching up their makeup, I seen it in some many countries, even seen people doing their makeup while driving in the states….(oh, the talented women of this world).

  8. While this is a good article I don’t think it’s fair for Mei Mei to directly assume this is ‘the Hong Kong way’, which seems to be what she’s insinuating here. At the time of writing she would have been here for, what, a hot minute and barely understood the culture (which I don’t blame her for) – but if she did she would know that this is most certainly not the ‘done’ thing in people born and raised in Hong Kong nor is it part of our culture to let children do their business in public.

    If Mei Mei had paid more attention to the absolute outrage that the city has experienced with the influx of Mainland tourists – a lot of whom unfortunately do let their children go in public spaces – then she would realise that we Hongkongers are truly just as disgusted as any person new to the city.

    I know that the Sassy team is made up of many (very talented, might I add!) writers who happen to be expats, but I am slightly disappointed to see that the editors have not made the effort to show that this, as I said before, is most definitely not the Hong Kong way of doing things. As a blog that prides itself as being ‘a girl’s guide to everything Hong Kong’, this is perhaps something that Sassy can look into.

  9. Hi Tara

    Thanks for your comment and concerns.

    Whilst this article was published before I became editor (back in 2011, in fact!), it is intended as an opinion piece – and the whole point of opinion pieces is for the author to express their views, whether you agree with them or not, and inspire debate and conversation, which this piece has certainly done (as you can see from the many comments above)! As such, it wouldn’t have been right for any of the editorial team then or now to go in and change whatever thoughts Mei Mei wanted to express.

    Nevertheless, I don’t actually think Mei Mei has leapt to the conclusion that this is ‘the Hong Kong way’ – and I certainly can’t find any mention of this in her text. She merely states what she saw, that she was pretty disgusted and that no-one did anything about it! As I mentioned, this article was written almost 2 years ago and, by her own admission, when she was still pretty new to Hong Kong; maybe if she wrote the piece now, what with the recent press coverage of Mainlanders and more knowledge of Hong Kong life and culture, her opinions may be different.

    I hope you’ll continue to read Sassy and continue to engage in discussions with our pieces as we love to hear what our readers think. And just as sidenote, I actually grew up in Hong Kong too 🙂

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