115km What’s the Chinese equivalent to Delhi Belly?
This was the first morning I didn’t actually feel like riding when I woke up and as it turns out this was a sign that all was not well. As usual I dined on the finest oatmeal, milk and bananas for breakfast with a side helping of bread (yes I’m still eating the bread the policeman gave me) and washed down with a delectable cup of instant coffee. With such a hearty breakfast inside of me what could possibly go wrong? With a routine 115km in front of me I set off for Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi Province.
I’m well aware of the fact that I need to keep the body well and truly stocked so at around eleven I decided to stop at one of the local eateries along the way. A bowl of vegetables and rice was ordered which came with some small pieces of meat thrown in for good measure. As norm I gobbled it down without a second thought. It wasn’t until about 50km into the ride that I began to notice something wasn’t quite right.
I’ve lived in Asia long enough now to spot the early signs of a dodgy stomach and to a certain extent feel that I’ve nurtured something of a cast iron belly over this period of time. How wrong was I! I immediately noticed that the pace of riding dropped considerably, every bump in the road made my stomach turn over. I’ve never heard of bike sickness before but this was certainly what was going on here.
I made an emergency pit-stop to purchase the necessary goods in case I needed to make a quick rush for the bushes. The continual motion of the bike just made things worse and worse. I wasn’t about to stop though. I knew this wasn’t just a passing case of an upset stomach and was damn sure I wasn’t about to spend the night visiting the toilet in some rundown hotel out in the middle of nowhere. No Sir I had set my sights on a nice little place in Nanchang and was determined that if I was going to be sick I would at least do it in relative comfort.
The last 55-60km were biking agony, by the end I had slowed to such a pace that old people finishing work and making their way home were passing me. I’ve only been out of the city for just over a week but I’d forgotten how busy traffic is. What a sight I must have made, by this stage I was groaning and resting my head on my handlebar bag at every set of traffic lights, much to the utter confusion of passing Chinese people.
An Englishman is nothing but polite and due once again to heavy rainfall I knew I couldn’t take my bike into a hotel in its current state. I found a place and while it was being cleaned it gave me the chance to adopt a new pose, leaning against a wall outside groaning while holding my stomach.
The people of Nanchang were already up in the friendliness stakes and got extra points when having asked a local man on his scooter the directions to Yongshu Road he instead of merely directing me there actually took me right to the front door of the hotel.
I was in pretty bad shape when I arrived at the hotel as whatever I had eaten was now multiplying and obviously having a small party inside my stomach. Thankfully in my medical kit I’d packed medicine for this exact situation. I don’t remember too much after that, I remember getting into the room, some serious night sweats (both hot and cold), some very weird almost hallucinogenic dreams and severe aching throughout my entire body.
And this has been my Nanchang experience.
I arrived Thursday night (it’s now Saturday evening) and I will leave tomorrow. So far I’ve seen the four walls of my comfortable, albeit slightly small hotel room and People’s Square. I did manage to crawl out of my sick bed the other day to go out and eat, hence my trip to People’s Square. A good friend of mine Greg Hallahan has always insisted that in times of an upset stomach like this you need to give your body something it trusts, something that has never let you down before, it’s no time for experimenting with new food, your body needs something reliable and what better food could there be than…….McDonalds! I’m not sure you’ll find this kind of medical advice in any books relating to medicine but it was the first thing I’d been able to eat in a day and actually keep down so perhaps there is method in this madness.
It would have been good to see something of Nanchang as I don’t think it’s had a fair crack of the whip but it’s time to leave. I’ve managed to eat more food today and feel strong enough to get back out on the bike. I just know I need to get out of this hotel and perhaps the best way to get over this fully is to ride it out.
Every cloud has a silver lining mind and the upside to this whole horrific and largely unpleasant 48 hours has been that I’ve been able to catch up with my blog!