Confusion of Guangzhou's Public Restroom Signs

April 30, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: April 30, 2006 12:00 am

In public restrooms in Guangzhou, you are not likely to find familiar words such as “male” or “female” any more. Instead, you will find decorative pictures which are confusing and could easily lead you into the wrong restroom.

According to Guangzhou Daily, among a few diverse and common restroom signs are ones such as “girls in red skirts,” “european noble ladies,” “gentleman smoking a pipe,” “high heels,” and “pigtails.” One shopping center in the Tianhe District has two huge signs of “xiong” and “ci,” which are generally used in biology for male and female animals, hanging on both sides of the restrooms in addition to the regular signs of a man and a lady in a skirt.

In one restaurant near West Gate of the Tianhe District, the word “restroom” is replaced with “hand washing” and the Chinese characters of “handsome boys” and “gorgeous girls” are on the doors to the male and female restrooms. In a hotpot restaurant, the restroom signs are even more “elegant,” with the men's restroom called “Rain Porch” and the women's restroom called “Waterfall Pavilion.”

A sign with a picture of a bearded man wearing a hat is hanging on the door of the men's restroom in a hotel on Huanshi Road, while the women's restroom has a picture of a lady wearing a big hat and gloves. On the first floor of the five-star Shamian hotel, the restroom signs are even more unique: a drawing of an ancient Chinese emperor and queen with a dignified appearance and a trace of a smile indicating the male and the female restrooms respectively.

Some citizens say these signs are inconvenient, “You have to spend much time figuring out which one to go in. Going to a restroom is not like doing shopping. Who has the time to figure out which door to go in?”