The Climb of My Life

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 11. Travails, Shanghai by Irina1 Comment

My trip to Huangshan Mountain last weekend was amazing- full of nature and short on mishaps- until I got food poisoning.

Our journey to the scenic park was planned in a blur. Realizing that few free weekends remained, my boyfriend and I decided last Tuesday to book our train tickets. Our tickets were for Thursday evening and we would leave right after our classes ended that afternoon. Despite the lack of planning, our trip went quite smoothly until our third night.

We didn’t have a problem with our taxi driver who understood our broken Chinese and dropped us off at our hotel. We also didn’t have a problem checking into the hotel so late and understanding the elderly man explain the best route for us to take for our hike in the mountains. We were lucky to not have to wait too long for a bus to the cable car station and for there to not be a long line. Our cable car ride to the top was both incredible and terrifying- I felt like I was looking down at Jurassic Park, Pandora, or some other mystical movie setting while also feeling paranoia that we would fall and die at any point.

The hiking on the first day, though brutal, was nothing I couldn’t handle. We climbed the Daoyu Peak and trekked through the canyon that day. My legs were killing me and I couldn’t wait for a hot shower and dinner. We ate at the hotel buffet and thought it was fine. Little did we know it would lead to our demise the following night.

After another exhausting day of hiking, we returned home ready for food and bed. Again, the buffet tasted fine other than the spicy pork and peppers I had. Afterwards, my stomach didn’t feel quite right but I figured there’s no way the hotel food wouldn’t be safe. I was able to finish eating, make it back to my room, and shower before the symptoms showed up.

My stomach started feeling mildly upset and I couldn’t fall asleep despite being exhausted. I kept thinking that maybe I should just throw up to get rid of whatever it was, but I didn’t want or think it had to come to that. After 2 hours of restless sleep, I suddenly felt the urge. I jumped out of bed but couldn’t make it- I puked all over the hotel room floor before stumbling to the toilet and throwing up some more. After cleaning up, I thought I could finally get some sleep but more came a few hours later. I spent the night in the bathroom, completely unprepared for our hike back to the cable car the next morning.

To get back to the trains station, we had to hike through the mountains to get the cable car- a journey of almost 2 hours to the base and another hour to get to the station. My body was drained and totally empty now, and I refused to eat any breakfast in fear of upsetting my stomach further. At each flight of stairs, I felt stabs in both my calves and my stomach. To be honest, I could barely hold everything together; it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to physically endure. When I finally made it to the station, McDonald’s was the only thing to eat and I napped right after since we had an hour to spare. However, as soon as we got up to start boarding, my stomach churned and I puked again in a trash can in the crowded station. I slept on the ride back and woke up to all the school work I thought I’d be healthy enough to do for Monday. That was the totally unexpected ending to my weekend adventure and one of the worst sicknesses I’ve had in my life. At least I know that I’m strong enough to make it over a mountain even with food poisoning.


  1. Hi Irina!

    That sounded like such a beautiful trip until the illness kicked in! I’m happy you got enjoy the mountains before you got too sick. I feel your pain as I had a stomach infection a few weeks ago and it seems like nothing can make it better. Also, style wise for the way you told this story, I love how you built it up by saying it was not this event nor that event but it was the food poisoning. It built tension and made me anxious to see what would happen! Glad you are feeling better!

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