Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gotta Start Somewhere

Well, I'm back in China and excited to update all of you on the happenings of the last two months.  However, I find myself at a bit of a creative impasse -- where shall I begin?  I probably ought to lure you in with something beautiful or inspiring, but I think I'm going to go a slightly more vulgar route and talk to you about vomiting.

Upchucking.  Ralphing.  Puking.  Blowing chunks.  If you don't like thinking about such things,  read no further.

Two days ago, my teammate and I were walking down a street in Beijing when a man walking about 20 feet to my right suddenly let loose a projectile stream of puke.  Impressive.  It served as a fitting end to a trip in which puking appeared in some form in almost every location I visited.

The airplane:  Sometimes I get headaches before I travel, and sometimes headaches make me sick.  On the second leg of my 30-hour airplane adventure to get home for my brother's wedding, I had the joy of throwing up for the first (and second) time in an airplane bathroom.  Lesson learned: don't travel.  (Just kidding, just kidding.)

Calcutta:  Who doesn't love a good mango lassi?  These smooth, yogurty drinks are one of my favorite things to order in India.  My travel companions loved them too, and one of them discovered a street stand that sold them cheap.  She enjoyed her drink and then went to bed.  The next morning, my other traveling companion and I awoke to the strains of an angry stomach emptying itself.  Lesson learned: don't drink mango lassis off the street.

Thailand:  Here is where the vomiting reached an impressive crescendo.  There were about 600 of us gathered in a hotel for our annual conference in Chiang Mai.  The first night I was there, I ran to the bathroom around 1:00 in the morning with a queasy stomach.  After I'd done a few dozen rounds at the great white throne, my rooommate also started feeling sick.  We bonded over our mutual misery.  We soon learned that we were not the only ones.  By the end of the week, around 80% of us at the conference had gotten this bad stomach bug, not excepting our conference doctor, our conference nurse, and our conference speaker.  Lesson learned: beware the annual Thailand conference.

Indonesia:  My teammates and I decided to save money by taking local transport between islands, so we took a slow ferry from Lombok to Bali.  About halfway through the four-hour ride, the seas started getting rough.  The boat was making wide swings, rocking back and forth on the rolling water.  As it came down each time, the whole metal structure rang out like thunder, and then the pendulum swing continued.  A young man sleeping on the bench next to me awoke with a start and lost his lunch.  Lacking any place to throw up, he used the floor and his hat.  He did this several more times.  As the trip continued, we started hearing retching from other parts of the ferry, which continued on and off for the next hour.  Fortunately, we were fine, but we learned our lesson: Bali ferries need complimentary motion sickness bags.

Malaysia:  Our travels took us to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but we were just passing through for less than one day.  Surely not enough time for an upchuck story, right?  Wrong.  We stayed at a hostel in a 6-person dorm room.  Sometime in the night, my teammate saw one of our dorm mates (who never looked sick, or even drunk) get up with a start, clamber off the top bunk, and rush out the door.  Soon the tell-tale sounds began.  Lesson learned: you never know who is going to puke, or when.

I think I'm done nauseating you now.  You may not have enjoyed reading this post, but I admit to feeling a bit of dark nostalgia when I look back on all of the vomiting I have witnessed (and produced) in my travels.  Don't abandon my blog forever; there are more pleasant things to come.


  1. I didn't think anyone could wax this poetically on barfing ... but you pulled it off. Happy hurling!


  2. Even vomit has its redeeming qualities -- in the form of good stories and roommate bonding.