China has installed timers above the cubicles in the women's toilets at a UNESCO World Heritage site, so fellow guests can tell how long they have been 'engaged'.

The Yungang Grottoes are one of the biggest attractions in northern China's Shanxi province, with 3 million people visiting the site of the ancient Buddhist temples carved into the rockface in 2023.

However, a video recently shared with a local Chinese news outlet, the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald, shows the 1500-year-old site has put digital timers above each stall in the female bathrooms. 

When a stall is unoccupied, the small display screen reads the word 'empty' in green. But if it is in use, it shows the number of minutes and seconds the person has been in there, in red. 

One visitor described it as 'embarrassing' as it felt like they were being 'monitored'. 

Speaking to the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald they said: 'I found it quite advanced technologically so you don't have to queue outside or knock on a bathroom door.

'But I also found it a little bit embarrassing. It felt like I was being monitored.'

A member of staff at the ancient site claimed that the upgrades were to cope with an increase in visitors to the attraction, which was putting pressures on all the facilities inside the tourist site.

'They aren't there to control the durations you could use the bathrooms,' the staff member was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

'It's impossible that we would kick someone out [of the bathroom stall] midway. And we aren't setting a time limit such as five or 10 minutes of how long one could use the toilets.'

While another employee told local news outlet Nanchang Evening News that the timers, which have been in operation since 1 May, were for the 'well-being of all guests in case some guests use the toilet for an extended period and an emergency occurs'.

Many people expressed their own views on social media and said that it was a misuse of money which could have instead been put towards building more toilets. 

One Weibo user complained: 'A tourist site isn't an office – who would spend their time in the toilets? Is it really necessary?'

'Your time is counted!' said another user.

A third added: 'Why don't they just spend the money on building more washrooms?'

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2024-06-12T16:45:05Z dg43tfdfdgfd