Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Wuzhizhou Island and the Tropical Fruit of Death

If you're going to spend hours throwing up into the sand, there's no better place to do it than Wuzhizhou Island. Really. It's a gorgeous little island, with clear waters, white sand beaches, and iconic temple-like structures jutting out in the ocean. Teddy, a cool English-speaking guy from Shanghai who we met on the way to Monkey Island, strongly recommended Wuzhizhou be part of our Sanya itinerary.

So we went the very next day. Booked a car with our hotel and sped off in the early morning light. It was on the short ferry ride to the island when it first hit Vanessa: the sickness, origin unknown. Our best guess is bad tropical fruit consumed earlier, exasperated by close-quarters inside the rocking ship. “Do you have a bag?” she asked. I did not, but I could tell one was desperately needed. Quickly rummaging through my belongings I found a small kleenex package which I de-kleenexed and handed over. She promptly threw up inside of it, sending chunks onto me and onto the floor. I next opened and emptied a package of dried plums, which she soon filled.

Then it got worse. Scrambling off the ship as it docked, we found a spot on the beach for her to continue her expulsions. Did you know the beach is a great place to vomit? It is. Lots of sand to bury the mess and soft on the knees to boot. While she recovered I searched for water and took some time to get my bearings. The pedestrian path above the beach was crowded with tourists and trams constantly beeping their horns. I found small market stands where I collected water and further down there was a bathroom. Most important, I found less-crowded, shady sections of beach where swimming was prohibited and Ness could continue to barf in peace.

When I got back, she was face down in the sand, half conscious and rather belligerent (excess vomiting will do that to a person). I had to coax her up to follow me to the shadier spot which she conceded was a better choice. Our car wasn't scheduled to pick us up until much later that afternoon, so for the moment we were marooned. I spent most of the hours that followed tending best I could to Ness, taking pictures, and walking along the shore collecting coral. At one point Ness felt well enough to go for a dip, and we enjoyed the cool waters in the swimming area before heading back to our spot at Upchuck Beach so Ness could get back to work.

On the ferry ride on the way back, the sickness at last hit me. As soon as we touched shore I raced for a bathroom. It was downhill from there. All the rest of the day, and all the rest of the night, Ness and I took turns vomiting. I have never vomited so much in my life, even during my worst food poisoning experience in Africa. Of course the vomiting was peppered with plenty of diarrhea, as everything we had ever consumed was determined to escape our bodies thorough any orifice available. (Now there's a fact I bet you wish you didn't know.)

Lest you think this was all a cakewalk, we returned to our rooms to discover we'd both been horribly sunburned. The expensive fake Avon-brand Chinese sunblock turned out to be just as useless as the face whitener. Soon we were further burning up with fever, our teeth chattering as we lay on our hard Chinese mattresses listening to the sounds of mosquitoes buzzing past our ears. At one point, close to midnight, I stumbled down the stairs to the reception desk to request more toilet paper and bottled water. Ness couldn't get out of bed, so it was left to me to try and explain our needs, mostly through pantomime. My throwing-up action, followed by flashes of fingers to indicate multiple times made the reception desk lady's eyes grow wide. It would surely have been comical to any third party passing by.

Fever does strange things to your head. While I struggled and struggled for sleep, between heavy sessions in the bathroom, all I could hear was the never-ending chorus of “Nobody” by the Korean Spice Girls wannabee group, the Wonder Girls (as seen on Chinese MTV.) I think that was the greatest torture of all. No matter what I did to try and block it out, that same insipid chorus is all I heard over and over again. Ness was similarly plagued by Shakira's “Gypsy.” I'm not sure which one of us was luckier.

We got through it. Having secured a late-check out, we slept much of the sickness away, waking in the afternoon and stumbling wearily to the airport.

But let's not choose to remember Wuzhizhou for all the stomach fluids we left there. Let's skip right past that part in the film reels of our minds and instead focus on these beautiful, vomit-free photographs. For all our sakes.



grace said...

Being sick when you're not at home is the worst! :( Poor things.

At least Ness looks relaxed instead of sick and pukey. :)

Once Steve and I went to Vegas and he ate something not good.... I've never seen him so sick. Sick with the vomiting and diarrhea all night. And the drive home was scary. We constantly had to pull over to get home. Took 3 hours longer than it needed to... Anyway, the point is, I can empathize. Wait, no. Steve can empathize. heh.

Courtney said...

Yikes! I couldn't help but feel so bad for your Chinese adventure. Hope all is well now.

And I could hardly contain my laughter at the description of your sunburnt, food poisoned, panamime. Thank you for using your words so expressly.

Valerie said...

Talk about "trouble in paradise!" So sorry your vacation was marred by the horrible vomitting. We all did the same thing last weekend. Must be something in the cosmic atmosphere.

Kevin said...