There are quite a few things I love about China including the abundance of frequent flyer miles I earn and the awesome shopping on Nanjing Road. Shanghai is a very cosmopolitan city with lots to offer visitors. I love Shanghai, but China makes me sick. Every trip I make to China I come home with new silk nightgowns, new custom shirts, and a new respiratory infection.
China is notorious for pollution and it seems my western lungs do not take kindly to the 27 million cars and 10 million scooters zooming around the cities and country sides. In Linhai (which means “by the sea”), a town in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, I had a sore throat just after I landed in the small air strip from Shanghai. It got so bad over the next couple of days that I could not swallow even hot tea. It was a miserable trip back to the states and once I returned my family doctor swabbed me, poked me and diagnosed me with strep throat and a sinus infection.
The next trip to China landed my fragile lungs in Beijing, better known as “real China”. I enjoyed Beijing’s rich culture and history. Slower paced and more traditional, I did manage to take a leisurely walk in the morning and get bronchitis from the reportedly 350 million smokers in China, many of which were noticeably in the Beijing morning crowds. After another long flight and trip to the doctor, I endured my second bout of antibiotics in five weeks.
A few weeks later I was off to Shantou in Guangdong province. A “small” town by Chinese standards, Shantou has 3 million people who drive, smoke, cough, and sneeze. Within 12 hours my bronchitis was back and I was destined for another 10 days of antibiotics when I returned to the US. At that point I was inclined to pick up some miconazole just in case. Monthly antibiotics was bound to throw my normal flora out of wack and it did.
I love Shanghai because I can get my Starbucks and Chanel. My iphone works and I never get a respiratory infection. Of course, my last trip to Shanghai, I got a gastrointestinal infection, lost 4 pounds and didn’t eat for three days while in stuck in the comfy bed of my hotel suite. China makes me sick!