The week from hell

The week from hell.

Hi guys, well I'm in Suzhou today - arrived about 5 hours ago,
since my last update I've been up to a few things.. however it's
all been tainted by sickness :(

So lets see... first of all I visited Putuoshan island, which is
very small ... picturesque, and though renowned for it's seafood
I didn't really enjoy it much (expensive, tasteless).. I've had
better luck with the farmed fish from further inland.

On Putuoshan I got really sick - had a temperature, which turned
into a fever - didn't break till my last day on the island. At
this point I started counting how many days I'd gone without
sleep (2).

Putuoshan Island did provide some priceless moments, such as
monks with cellphones... angry monks getting anoyed with our
copious luggage, old lady tourists pushing monks out of the
way... the insanity of people pushing and shoving to get to their
allocated seats.

After the island we headed to Shanghai - sickness and lack of
sleep still reigning supreme... I felt exhausted all the time -
getting sick when your on the move far far away from home really
is the pits - and going into a chinese dispensary just makes it
worse... buying unknown drugs with sign language *cough cough -
points at throat, screw up eyes*

That night, despite my sickness I managed to get enough beers
into me for a "second win" (a very bad idea in retrospect ;o) and
went out to bar/club called "windows" that's a bit of a student
hangout, partly to see desmond (my roomy) off - as he's leaving
us in shanghai to stay with his sister for a couple of weeks.

With the cheapest drinks in all of shanghai I suspect (50 Yuan
cover charge, then 5 yuan beers/10 yuan spirits) - most beers in
Shanghai top out at around 25 to 35 yuan, all a bit painfull on
the travellers wallet... we didn't leave till around 1:30am, then
got a taxi back to the hotel (we'd taken the MTR there, but the
trains shut down around midnight) - we stopped in at a bbq kebab
place and had a bit of a nibble before crashing.

Desmond got up way to early the next day, and I still hadn't
managed to get any sleep (3 days) so I was feeling like absoloute
death... wandered round Shanghai with a couple of my fellow
travellers, but was pretty much just a sheep - my throat started
to get really sore that day (and still hasn't got any better).

Today we also met the 3 new additions to our intrepid group for
the rest of the trip, and older couple from Aussie (Ian &
Judith) and a old'ish lady (Also from aussie) called
Daniella.  Ian is a doctor, which is a good thing :)

That night I went and saw a movie, in an effort to not expend
much energy... the only english movie on though was "National
Treasure" ... it wasn't good, but it was mindless.  I got a
mountain dew at the theatre only to discover that in China it
tastes a lot like green tea.

(Incidentally, almost every bottled drink in China is sickly
sweet, it's fairly rare to actually find a natural juice drink
that hasn't got half a tonne of added sugar).

That night I also got no sleep... the day after that we visited
The shanghai museum and some rock gardens, which wasn't too bad -
though I was pretty much a zombie for the entire experience.

I sat in a bath for an hour and finally managed to get about 6
hours sleep when I went to bed... I still felt exhausted, but at
least my constant headache is subsiding...

Then we left Shanghai, and travelled by Bus to Zhouzhang - quite
a quaint little village, where we stayed in a traditional chinese
guesthouse... which was awesome, my room had an adjoining study
full of 100+ year old furniture, which was pretty funky - though
the old buildings are fairly cold, without the air conditioning
cranked right up the room just ends up like a giant fridge.

And that leads us to today... where we took an hours ride on a
boat from Zhouzhang to Tong Li, and from there we drove to
Suzhou.. I've almst lost my voice, however I'm now armed with a
fresh supply of drugs including some anti biotics that Ian helped
me pick out - drugs are cheap and handed out without prescription
in China, I think it cost me 9 Yuan for a course of 24
amoxycillin pills.  Ian is unsure it'll help me (what I have
is probably viral) but he recons it can't hurt to try, in case I
have some kind of secondary infection to clear up.

At any rate, I'm feeling a bit better now then I was a week ago -
but it hasn't been particularly fun, which is a real shame -
there was a lot I could've seen and done in shanghai if I'd had
the energy.

Tomorrow night we're doing another overnight train trip, ending
up in Xi'an, the furthest west I'll end up travelling in China,
which should be interesting.  The train trips are always a
bit of fun, if a little chaotic to get on/off.


 - Alex

Written on March 23, 2005