Friday, August 18, 2006

After just over 2 months abroad, I've finally made it to my first Internet Cafe, the place of study-abroad legend. I'm in Wuhan now, staying with my friend Claire and her amazing mother, to whom I literally owe my life. I got off the train running a pretty high fever and a badly swollen throat, and she decided we'd head straight for the hospital. Luckily, she knows a few people around Wuhan, so I was whisked from one waiting area to another, getting blood tests and temperature readings along the way. I ended up in a private room with an IV in my arm for the rest of the day. Luckily, I felt a lot better by evening and they let me go home, as long as I came back for the next 3 days for treatment...this trip was clearly off to a great start. As it turned out, I really only had to go back for 2 days, after signing my (chinese) name and assuring them that I felt better. Now, I've never been admitted to a hospital back in the States before, but I'm pretty sure some things were a bit different here. The gossipping horde of 7 nurses standing outside of my door, alternately staring and whispering, for example, probably wouldn't have been a part of a hospital stay in New York. The health history questionaire-turned-vocab lesson was another twist...one that conveniently was timed right after my friend/translator left the room to get some food.

Despite my residence at Wuhan Number 6 Hospital, I've had a great time here so far. Wuhan is a city of around 20 million, including its suburbs, but it doesn't show. The traffic, air quality, and general crowding on the streets are all far better than in Beijing, which actually houses less people. The city is notable for its location on the Yangzi River, and I've been told it's one of the only cities whose urban area spans both banks. We went down to the park/esplanade area on the banks last night and actually found our way down to the water's edge. Some kids were swimming in water that is probably about as clean as the NY's East River's.

The food here is amazing, much better than Beijing, I'm convinced, and that's not just because I'm eating it free of charge at my friend's restaurants. So far I've sampled frog, turtle, and several different types Wuhan's famed freshwater fish. I'm told we'll be having some snake in the next few days, which is rumored to be delicious.

All told, I'm healthy, well fed, and ready to see what else the South has to offer...more tales from the road soon.