The Great Wall of China: Pushing 10km Through The Stomach Flu

I woke up at 2 or 3 AM. I’m not sure which. I felt ill. To be honest, this has not been an unusual situation here in China…the oil and spices sometimes gets to me and I will spend a good hour awake in the night wondering if I should bother getting a bag to vomit into. Most of the time, it resolves itself as innocuous indigestion.

Not this time.

I had already thrown up three times before we got onto the subway. I had a fever and chills. I unmistakably had the most horrible work hazard of being a teacher; I had the stomach flu.

And today was the only day that we could climb the Great Wall of China.

I almost gave up after the third upchuck. We laid back down and contemplated our terrible fate in twin beds next to each other in our hotel room.

No. I decided. No. I will go. I have to go. I will do it. I will.

And I did. 

I called down all the ancestors I could think of on the way to the place, on the subway. Help me. Help me. I am going where no one in our family ever has before. Help me. Support me. Help me.

I almost threw up on the commuters trying to get to their 8AM desk jobs. I leaned over on the metro, willing a trash bin into existence near the door we were at. Luckily, I am now of an age where people on public transportation in the morning look at me throwing up and holding my husband’s hand and think, “Oh…morning sickness. Poor dear.” Not yet, but thanks for the sympathy.

I threw up again before the bus, at a hotel with a Starbucks. The aroma of the coffee put me off. And then it stayed down. IMG_1414

I walked more than 10km on the day we climbed the Great Wall, and it was worth it all the way. It was touch and go at many points, and the climb from the village up the back portion of the mountain was on par with many hikes I’ve done in Colorado (the most similar being the climb to the First Flatiron in Boulder).

With the support of my husband, the ancestors (?), and a very kind English hiking guide, I made it to the top. We had to scramble up a ladder into the Wall itself!


It was easily the best thing I’ve done since being in China. Absolutely life-affirming. I have wanted to see the Great Wall since I was about four years old, and it did not disappoint. I felt more at home there than almost anywhere in China. The Wild Wall in particular was great.

And I didn’t throw up at all on the Wall itself. I’m a little sad about that, actually.

It was amazing.

One thought on “The Great Wall of China: Pushing 10km Through The Stomach Flu

  1. Your determination to accomplish a long held dream under very difficult circumstances gives me strength and inspiration. The pictures are great.!

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