I don’t tend to think of China as having consistently mild anything, really.
Even the tofu in this country could put some hair on your chest.
So I was pretty excited.
After all, I’m a mild temperature kind of girl. I burn too easily and sweat too much to enjoy the heat. And I like using my fingers and toes too much to enjoy the cold.
Having spent the last month or so suffering through hot and sticky summer weather in Wuxi and a few days in the even hotter and stickier Chengdu, I was pretty eager to take a break from sweating out of every single pore of my body.Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend much time outdoors frolicking in the cooler Kunming climate. I was too busy holing myself up in my hostel room sniffling and suffering from China’s latest attempt on my life.
You see, on my last day in Chengdu, I woke up sneezy, woozy-headed and scratchy-throated. This situation was not exactly helped by the eighteen-hour, hard sleeper train ride I had to take from Chengdu to Kunming. Which is about like taking an eighteen-hour ride in a giant human petri dish – a really smoky, giant human petri dish. Because, remember, this is China, where the men smoke pretty much all the time — even when they’re doing things you’d think would prevent them from smoking. Like visiting the hospital or working out or sleeping.By the time I reached Kunming, I was in full-on, what-is-my-name-again-and-where-am-I, head-cold mode.
Like all the colds I’ve gotten in China, it was one of those long, drawn out, lingery diseases that involved lots of wheezing. It was the kind of disease that made me feel like I’m the heroine in some Nineteenth Century novel. You know, like I’d end up spending the rest of my days in an iron lung and eventually I’d just wither away and die.
And, if you’ve met me in person, you know I have a ways to go before I can technically start withering.I spent most of my time in Kunming catching up on reality television on Hulu and sniffling – both from my cold and from watching episodes of Master Chef and So You Think You Can Dance. Because, seriously, there is no way I can make it through either of those shows without losing it at least half a dozen times. There is just something about watching people pursue their crazy dreams that makes me cry.
And then I’d start to feel guilty.
Because there are people in the world capable of whipping up perfect apple pies even though they CANNOT EVEN FREAKING SEE. And other people who can bust out amazing dance moves despite having been DECLARED DEAD SIX FREAKING WEEKS AGO.
And I couldn’t get out of bed because of a measly cold?
I should be out there pursuing my crazy dreams, too!
Okay, so maybe I couldn’t remember what those crazy dreams were because my brain was no longer capable of coherent thought. But why was I letting a little thing like brain-fog stop me?
So I’d jump out of bed to go do something. But then I’d have to give up because even putting on my flip-flops required a bit too much energy.Occasionally, I would shuffle out of my room to go visit the Walmart across the street from my hostel to stock up on important cold-fighting stuff like juice and fruit and chocolate.
I’d never been to a Walmart in China before, but it turns out the Walmart in Kunming was a lot like an American Walmart – crowded and noisy and full of people with big hair.
I wouldn’t say it is the best place to go when you’re already feeling woozy and light-headed.
I kept on seeing weird stuff for sale that I was convinced couldn’t possibly exist in real life. So I had to take pictures of all of it just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.
First, there was the pizza with dragon fruit on top of it.
Then, there were the peppermint-flavored prunes.
And there was this:Despite the fact that I didn’t get to see many of the fine sights and wonders of Kunming (aside from, you know, the dragon fruit pizza… which truly should be considered a wonder), I have to say that Kunming wasn’t such a bad place to be sick.
First of all, they have some of the best chicken noodle soup in the world.
With the poetic name of across-the-bridge noodles, the soup is served unassembled. This means you get to dump all the bits together into the big bowl of steamy broth.
It’s all very DIY.
Unbeknownst to me, there was a very strict order in which you’re supposed to dump the bits into the broth. If you dump them in all wrong, apparently your soup will explode.
Or you will.
I’m not really sure.
The restaurant where I ate even provided helpful photo instructions at each table.
But I was too woozy-headed to notice. Plus, I tend to think if something’s written in Chinese it must not apply to me.
I started dumping things in all willy-nilly-like which caused a small amount of hysteria among the staff. Luckily, my waiter set me straight, so that when I came back to the restaurant (as I did… more than a few times) I was able to dump the bits in according to the proper order like a total pro.Secondly, if you’re going to pick any city in China to laze about and basically do nothing, Kunming is a pretty much the place to do it.
In fact, doing nothing seemed to be the Kunming way of life.
There was a small park near my hostel, which I would wander through during my more lucid moments.
At any given time of the day, the park was full of people playing cards or mahjong.
Or doing absolutely nothing at all.
Watching people in the park made for a nice break from watching reality television shows. At least, it didn’t make me feel all guilty.
Sure, I wasn’t out there baking perfect pies or ballet dancing my way to reality television stardom.
But neither was this guy:
And he seemed pretty cool with that.How do you cope with getting sick on the road?