I imagine that a good portion of my readers will at some point in their lives find themselves in China. Upon getting here, though, it occurred to me that some people might not know how to get themselves sick properly, so I’m making this handy guide for them.

Now, there are a few reasons you might find yourself in such a situation where you need to become sick in the middle kingdom.

  • Maybe the old man on the corner has challenged you to a loogie-hawking contest
  • Could be that your trip has been a little too enjoyable, so you’re looking for a way to make sure you go out on a particularly low note
  • Winter getting to you? Contract a fever, feel toasty warm all the time!

And so on.

Without further ado:

1) Live in China for about two months and ten days. You see, if you’re coming from a real country your body generally is all full of good chemicals because said countries’ governments love you / don’t trust you to properly nourish yourself on your own, so they infuse all your food with vitamins and things like that so it’s hard to accumulate any sort of dietary deficiency. You want to give it some time for all these to work themselves out of your system while you marinate your lungs in a perpetual haze of industrial fumes, car exhaust, and second-hand smoke.

2) Now, a lot of people here have already accomplished step one and are well on their way to becoming ill. Your next goal is to surround yourself with as many of these people as you can, in as tight of quarters as possible. To this end, spend a few hours a day on public transit systems, or even elevators. The more people wearing the “I am sick” masks, the better, but don’t worry if you don’t see many of them in a given subway car — plenty of people will just not cover their mouths at all and happily cough all over everything. Again, the elderly particularly excel here.

10-to-13 transfer, 6pm. Two major subway lines, only two staircases. So when a train comes in, they stop the flow up one staircase so that the arrivees can come down, and then open the stairway and create a bit of a stampede. If stampeding isn't your thing you can wait in the line on the right, but I shouldn't have to explain why that isn't appealing.

3) If for some reason you can’t locate a suitably crowded place in China, just find some sort of office building where a third of the employees are sick, and hang out there for nine or so hours a day. Extra bonuses if most people don’t wash their hands in the bathroom. Oh and make sure to use plenty of the same water coolers, door handles, etc as they do.

4) Ok, crunch time. Your spitting contest is coming up and ol’ Wang Fung on the corner is on his A-game — if your body isn’t in a seriously compromised state, you’re gonna lose hard. These guys have an INFINITE supply of material. You’ve got one weekend to prepare.

  • Friday: Go eat in a truly filthy establishment. Preferably one where you pay first, and where the waitress is also the cook, so she handles your money and then goes to make your food. You’re in luck if you don’t hear a sink turn on. Oh, and be sure to eat something you’ve never had before so you can’t tell if the taste is off.
  • Saturday: Wake up really early, so that you don’t accidentally use the weekend to catch up on your sleep debt. Later that night, drink heavily and stay out late; it does wonders for your immune system. Oh but be sure not to drink any water — it’s not potable. No need to go that crazy. Before you pass out, though, try to turn off your heater and every light in your house to simulate the effect of running out of power in the middle of the night. This is necessary because you’ll need to
  • Sunday:  Again, wake up way earlier than you normally would because gosh it’s really cold in your house, for some reason. Like, I-thought-I-bought-a-big-fucking-blanket-for-this cold. Spend the day in somewhat of a stupor, and don’t eat much. That night, you’re going to want your house to get down to about 55 degrees — this is a pretty key temperature to hit, because it ensures that you can’t actually sleep even though you’re exhausted, so you get these fun semiconscious feverdreams every half hour or so until 4:30 when your system just shuts down and you actually get some rest

5) But not for long, because it’s up-and-at-em at 8am for work on Monday! You should be pretty much set at this point, especially if you’ve been sticking to the advice in point 1) and haven’t eaten any fruit for a while. Though if you still have any concerns, you can always walk a floor or two in the stairwell of your office; literally hundreds of people use it every day as one big long smokeroom so if your respiratory system isn’t completely broken for some reason you can just get that coffin nailed down tight. And if that still doesn’t do it, your upcoming fifteen-hour, four-airport, three-country international flight sure as hell will. Not that I’m complaining (=

Honestly I like my office a lot. My cube is on the left, with the tea and the headphones.

In seriousness I’m not as bitter as it might come off. The whole reason I made the list is to say that yes, I’m sick, but it’s pretty much my fault (except for the power outage, which was Rayco’s. Bah).  My throat is kinda screwed up and I’m running a smidge of a fever, but hey. Last time I spend two months and ten days in China — I’m serious about this number, this is happening almost exactly TO THE DAY the same as it did this summer — I came out with an upper respiratory infection with pneumonia to chase. So a cold or whatever I’ve contracted isn’t the end of the world, it’s just a kinda sad way to say bye to China. Maybe it’ll go away tonight if I eat lots of oranges and get a buncha sleep. That’s my plan, anyway…

I feel guilty for ranting, so here's a picture of Beijing as seen from my office window. 我非常喜欢这个城市

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