And I'm not talking about that wimpy, Westernized, once I had old salad dressing food poisoning. I'm talking the Third World, SARS based, internal organs imploding, wish you were dead kind. After dinner, at a seemingly safe restaurant last night, I decided to forgo a romp through town with my family and hit the hay. After all, we were hiking The Great Wall the next day and I wanted to be well-rested. At 1am, I shot out of bed. Pain emminated though my entire body and I immediately got violently ill. Violently. I can not express to you the ammount of pain I was in last night. I can only imagine what it's like to give birth, and this was significantly worse. By 3am, I was convinced it was a tapeworm or something equally gross and tropical. By 3:30, I was ready to call an ambulance. By 4, I had to wake Alex up, really just because I was beginning to think something was seriously, seriously wrong and I needed a second opinion. After watching me writhe in pain for a half hour, he went over to mom and dad's and explained the situation. Mother, who, as I've said many times before, isn't really the mothering type, found me curled up in the fetal position crying hysterically. She crawled in bed with me, sent Alex to sleep in her room, and literally rubbed my back until 7:30, when it became clear I had to make a descision about how I was going to spend the day.
As I could barely stand, getting dressed proved complicated, but I made my way down to the dining room. 3 bites of yogurt and I immediately ran for the bathroom and lost it all. Back at the table, and in so much pain I found it hard to not scream, I ran out into the lobby sobbing and cluthing my stomach. Standing alone in a corridor, close to death, I couldn't believe my luck. Today, of all days, when I'm supposed to knock off my 3rd wonder of the world, I get sick. And my family was trapped, as they were terrified to leave me alone, yet really fucking wanted to see The Great Wall in China. Another wave of pain shot through my stomach as I collapsed onto the marble floor in tears. I looked up to find the Japanese rock star standing over me, silently staring. Upstairs, I found mom and admitted I might need to see a doctor. In goddamn Beijing. This terrified all of us, and mom decided to go talk to our guide, Annie, patiently waiting for us in the lobby. It was agreed that Annie, dad, and Alex would go find some kind of medicine and mom would stay with me. In the hotel room, I curled up on the bed and screamed into a pillow, half from the pain and half from the frustration.
The boys soon returned with a curious concoction that smelled like mint and they instructed me to drink it. I did, and and attempted to lie back down. 30 minutes later, with it made perfectly clear that this was our only opportunity, probably in any of our lives, to see the Great Wall of China, I decided to go. In retrospect, probably not the wisest choice, but one I had to make. I looked up and said, "Let's just get this goddamn wall over with." It was agreed.
It took an hour to get out into the country, and as we pulled up to a parking lot, I saw no wall.
"Oh no." says Annie. "First we learn about jade."
Fabulous. Another attempt at forcing us to buy crap. I was still finding hard to stand upright, must less feign interest in the jade making process, and mom hustled us out of there. Next, were the Ming Dynasty tombs. I'm sure they were very interesting, but I spent that time on a bench with my head in my lap. I ran to the bathroom as another wave of hell consumed by body but found that the toilets were merely holes in the ground with no toilet paper. Dying or not, I couldn't do it. I've never peed in a hole in the ground and it's a record I intend to keep.
Lunch followed, at some government run place that serves you food as rapidly as possible, and then you're supposed to shop in their wherehouse of Chinese crap afterward. Our dining table with filled with plates and plates of fabulous food, yet all I could get down was 3 bites of plain rice and some Hot and Sour soup. After lunch, mom piped up, "Let's go buy you some silk jackets!"
It was so bad, I didn't even want to shop.
I went outside and sat in the sun. Finally, around 2, it was time to head over to The Great Wall. I must admit, it's impressive. Packed with tourists, it climbs thousands of miles into the hills and looks exactly like it's supposed to look. I made it 100 yards, sent my family off, and sat in a corner. Hours later, they descended, drenched and ready to collapse. I was finally starting to feel somewhat better, as we piled in the van with Annie and headed back to the hotel. I slept the entire way home, and now can aknowledge I'm about 75% better. My stomach can still be heard across the room, I'm dehydrated and red eyed, and frustrated as all get out, but it appears I'll live. Considering I wasn't so sure about that a few hours ago, I'm delighted.
No one can determine where I contracted this dreaded parasite, although theories include that I drank the water you're not supposed to drink or had too many Chinese Pringles. I think I was the jackass that ate a piece of undercooked meat last night, and hopefully, 24 hours and wierd Chinese medicine will cure me of my malady. Tomorrow, thank god, it's shopping around town at will. I must say, when faced with the prospect of death versus having an ambulance pull up to the Penninsula Hotel and cart you off to some delapidated hospital, I pretty much risked death.
After all that, I saw The Goddamn Great Wall of China. And like a Mongolian, nearly died on it.