Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Shanxi Province - Part III: Yungang Caves

It was quite early when we woke up. Something was wrong with me. It felt like something was twisting my stomach. Angela was in a hurry to get going. I stalled for a few hours by sending Angela out to find some stomach medicine, get some breakfast and check about some tickets for our departure at the bus and train stations. I couldn't move and felt as if I would vomit. I only had enough energy to get to the bathroom, where I dealt with the spasms of diarrhea which were wringing me out. Angela found medicine in the hotel lobby, which had no effect as my condition only seemed to worsen. Angela looked heart-broken, sitting on the edge of the bed, envisioning returning to Beijing. I felt guilty for spoiling our vacation and forced myself to accompany her to The Yungang Caves even though I just wanted to sleep it off.

After walking around briefly, and resting on a number of benches, I went to the first-aid station and slept while Angela continued to see the sights. She took some great pictures. While she was out and about, the doctor took my temperature, gave me some medicine which eventually eased my stomach pain and told me to drink lots of hot water. The generic Chinese cure for nearly all ailments. He offered to give me an injection for my stomach, but I opted against it, deciding to take my chances with a more natural recuperation.

Angela returned and we went back to the hotel. Back through the slowly blackening city with its little grey coal villages where the workers and their families lived, back past machine shops and parts dealers, past coal piles and black fields and rock quarries and giant truck graveyards, past smokestacks and the smoking pipes of roadside vendors selling sticky noodles and hot fruit under orange plastic tarps, past the sparklingly sharp military campus where men in fatigues played basketball, past more men in fatigues walking or riding bicycles on the streets with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths, past groups of taxi drivers talking on the corners, through swirling dust storms past rows of unreadable storefront windows pasted over with giant red and blue Chinese characters, back to our hotel.

Angela went to eat lunch by herself. I went back to our room and slept. She returned with a bowl of rice, which I enjoyed with a big glass of hot water and then went back to sleep. Angela joined me, taking a nap, and eventually roused herself to go and visit a couple temples before it got too late. I continued to sleep. She returned with a banana, which I managed to eat without incident. It seemed like I was recovering, although I was still weak. If my recovery continued, we planned to resume our journey to The Hanging Monastery and Wutai Mountain, but if I didn't recover, we planned to return to Beijing. We ordered food in our room that evening, watched the news and some women's ping-pong matches on TV and then went to sleep.

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