Welcome back to Women Who Wander. This series focuses encouraging women to seek out solo travel. Empowering and inspiring both seasoned Solo Travellers and those who have yet to venture out on their own. The response to this series has been amazing and I just want to thank you all for embracing it. Hopefully many more Solo Travel stories to come Next up is Kelly with an unfortunate tale of how she celebrated her 25th birthday in China with food poisoning!
Kelly Duhigg is a nanny by day and a passionate world traveler any other time. She is also an avid writer who loves to share her travel adventures, in the hope that she may inspire others to let go of theirs fears and follow their dreams. To see more of her travel stories and obtain some of her travel tips, check out her blog at www.girlwiththepassport.com
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The Kung Pao Chicken Fiasco of Lugu Lake
The date is August 5, 2009, and I celebrate my twenty-fifth birthday hunched over a toilet, puking my brains out and praying to God that it will all go away. Then I hear my stomach start to gurgle. I feel the bubbles rise and fall in my stomach. And then it hits me, all at once. The pain and the urgency come as I rush to undo my pants in time before the volcano of awfulness arrives.
I make it just time but there is a pounding on the door. All I can think is, “Leave me the BLEEP alone because I literally, CANNOT go anywhere.” I want to move. I dream of moving without pure awfulness coming out of every orifice in my body, but that dream will not come true today. I’ll just have to hunker down and wait it out, like a World War I soldier weathering the blood and mud soaked trenches Only today, my battles is with the bacteria laced, Kung Pao chicken that I had last night. Oh the joys of food poisoning.
An Unfortunate Time for Language Barriers
I moan again and instantly regret not having the sautéed vegetables last night. Then I wouldn’t be commandeering the bathroom for twenty-four hours straight. And I get it. They need to use the bathroom. But in my infinite wisdom I had chosen a cheap hostel, with one communal bathroom. There were no other options for me or anyone else. Therein was the whole problem.
My only hope was that if I moan loud enough, they will get the hint and leave me in peace. I don’t speak Chinese and I am the only American here, so wailing in agony will have to be the universal language of the day.As I moan even louder, they seem to interpret this animalistic noise as my version of, “go away”. They leave me in peace to drop five pounds in three days; and not in the sexy, juice cleanse kind of way. In the dry heaving, body shaking, dehydrated, food poisoning induced, wrecking of twice digested Kung Pao chicken kind of way.
Three days later, I am not five but ten pounds lighter and shaky on my feet. I eventually made it from the bathroom to my room, but just barely. I just keep questioning, “Why did I ever come to this remote part of China?”
That question still haunts me as I wobble out of my room with my once pink, now dark gray, rolling bag that has been useless since the day I arrived in China. I should have been cool and bought a backpack like all the “normal” backpackers.
The Need To Push On
As I try to keep my bag envy in check, I drag my suitcase over the boulder encrusted, dirt road. It takes all my strength to walk the 50 meters to the van that will take me away from this retched place. I mean in fairness Lugo Lake was really cool, but I just can’t think about that right now.
I peer at my watch, which reads 5:45 am. This is the one and only van that leaves, daily, to take you to the bus station, which is an hour away. As I contemplate whether my body will cooperate with such a long journey, with no bathroom breaks in between, I throw my bag in the trunk and limply hoist myself onto the closest seat possible. I lean my head against the cool glass of the window and it soothes me, until I get five, Chinese, high school students saying to me, “Hi! How are you?” in the most sing-song way ever. Al I can think is that they are too damn chipper and that now is really not the time to practice English with me. Somehow amidst the gas fumes and canyon riddled road, I must have passed out because I am jolted awake as the van stops abruptly. All around me I hear desperate Chinese murmurs that signify something is not right.
The Last Thing I Need
I take a deep breath in an effort to gather enough strength to say, “Excuse me, why aren’t we moving?” The student can hear the nervousness and exhaustion in my voice. This seventeen year old has kind eyes that want to tell me it will all be okay. Instead he says matter-of-factly, “Oh, there was just a landslide. We’re gong to have to take our luggage and walk over the rocks, so that we can meet another van that will pick us up on the other side.”
I momentarily think I have said something, but words never escape my lips. I am overcome by anger, frustration, and fear, that my body may actually explode before I make it to a bathroom of some sort. Even a trough in the ground would suffice at this point. After all, beggars can’t be choosers.
Briefly, I contemplate having them just leave my body there as an ominous warning that other travelers should stay away from the Kung Pao Chicken, but I know I have to at least try.
Happy Birthday To Me
Mockingly, I sing myself a pissy and resentful version of happy birthday, in an effort to generate the anger needed to get me to move. It works as I attempt to drag my bag across the mountainside that passes as a public road. After about a half a mile, I prepare to ascend the landslide of doom and sarcastically think, “Well, at least it’s only 5,000 more steps until I find a working bathroom”. Then I see the van. And I force myself to always remember to stay away from the chicken whenever I’m in China.
Finally, If you are interested in writing for Women Who Wander, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Can’t wait to share your stories