Despite having visited China before, I’d somehow managed to avoid the public toilets, more by luck than by intention. I’d been in hotels, in shopping centres, in restaurants—but never in a real no-star public convenience. I went to one today, and found it new, clean—and still completely alien to a westerner. The Olympic tourists are in for a surprise!

The toilets are basically holes in the floor. That’s not unusual in Asia, of course—Japan has plenty of them—but it’s very hard to use them if you haven’t had any experience.

There’s no toilet paper. Bring your own.

There’s no sink to wash your hands. Bring some antibacterial hand-cleaning gel.

There are no doors on the cubicles. In fact, there are no cubicles at all, just a low partition between each squatting-place. Leave your western standards of shame and decency at home!

Fortunately, I only needed to use the urinal—and those are more or less the same everywhere. Or are they? Are there societies that view urinals with the same sense of horror that public squatting inspires in me?