Our arrival to Guangzhou after a 3.5 hour flight was smooth and easy. We got a great preview of Chinese manners on the flight with spitting, snorting and all sorts of noises. Went through immigration with no problem. As they spoke no English they have a screen that you can see at immigration showing the info they are putting in (your name, DOB, visa number etc) and then tells you when they are done and you can go!
We got a map, bags and went to ask at the information desk at the baggage area how much a taxi would be. We were quoted 300 Yuan. Thought it was best we check at the taxi stand. We followed the signs for “taxi stand”, at least those were in English and nothing else was and no one spoke English! We changed some US dollars and stood in the taxi cue. Got into the taxi and showed the driver the hotel address, he had NO CLUE!!! He asked a security guard and they chatted in Chinese and we were off! We motioned to the meter and he put it on. Were we going the right way? We had no clue and about 20 minutes into the journey we realized he had no clue either! He wanted to charge us 100 Yuan and take off the meter. He kept trying to speak to us in Chinese as if we understood what he was saying. About 30 mins into the journey he pulled over pointing to the sign of a hotel. Was this ours? We tried to explain to him that Dean would stay in the car whilst I went to check if this is where we had booked a room. He was not having it. He eventually got out of the car, left us on the side of the street. Came back after about 10 mins, we were still clueless. We got all our stuff out of the taxi, I stood outside this hotel with the driver and Dean went in to check. He happens to meet an Indian Brit staying at that hotel who was able to help out. Dean got on the net, worked out where we were staying. The whole time Dean was inside the taxi driver waited with me, had stopped the meter. He then understood where we had to go and took us there. Did not want to take the money we owed him for the last part of the ride! What a saga to get from airport to hotel at 1am!
The people are super friendly and helpful they just do not speak a word of English and don’t seem to understand maps either! We finally made it to our hotel and checked in. At this point all I wanted was a bed and for my back pain to disappear! I was in agony!
The next 3 days in Guangzhou were not all that fun or entertaining as I spent the majority of those 3 days in the Guangzhou Traditional Chinese Hospital. What an experience! By the 3rd day we knew the ropes and were pros. The 1st day was rather tough! We got there at 10am and we were there until 8pm! We first had to register and they took my temperature, was well over normal! We then had to wait an hour to see a doctor. We were surrounded by people spluttering, coughing, spitting and it was a rather disgusting experience! Dean went to see if he could find a facemask so he wouldn’t get sick as well. After an hour of waiting we got to see the doctor. The waiting area and examination area is all open so while you are speaking to the doctor and getting examined there are other people coming to talk to him, get papers… chaos! The first doctor did not speak a word of English! We were told by the nurse at the entrance that there were English docs so Dean not happy at this point went to find the nurse and she then brought us to another examination room and we saw a doctor who spoke some English!
I explained that I felt flu like, hot/cold and had major pain in my back on the right side. He got me to sit on a bed and felt my back. Told me I had to get a blood test, urine test and onto an IV. From the examination you are given a stack of papers. You then go and pay. Next to the “pay booth” you pick up all the medication, vial for blood and urine as well as the plastic IV bags.
We then had to head to the appropriately named “Infusion room”. This was a long room with beds lined up at the front, a counter where the nurses drew blood, inserted the IV needles and gave you what you needed. Past the counter were rows of blue chairs, 86 of them in total! (check out the photo page for Guangzhou!). Above each chair was a metal pole and hanging down were metal rods to hang the IV plastic bags. I was told to go to the toilet first. Lovely squat toilets, NOT! They stank, filthy!!!! Did what I had to do. I was then given a shot in the butt. I then went and got two vials of blood and then was put on a drip for hours!!!! There were four large plastic bags to get through! The drops did not seem to fall fast enough! This process was repeated for 3 days (although doctor Dingo interjected after day 1 and turned the dial on the IV drip and fast tracked the process on days 2 and 3!!!).
The doctor diagnosed me with a kidney infection as well as kidney stones! The first night after being done at 8pm, still in pain after being dosed up, went back to the hotel and Dean went into town to check it out. He went to the top of the Canton Tower which is the tallest structure in Asia at 600m. He enjoyed the view and another site other than the hospital. The next day the hospital routine was repeated. We got through the process much faster. Still as time consuming and no fun like the day before! Day 3 was then not looking promising to begin with as the doctor was not happy that I was not feeling that much better! I had a CT scan, an ultra sound, blood test, urine test and more IV drips! The doctor spoke very good English and did not want us to leave unless my urine test was all clear! Luckily it was and the tests were much better! One would hope considering the amount of needles and pills I was popping!
So our first stop in China was not that exciting and fun, especially not for me, being in so much pain and being in an unknown place where we do not speak the language! At least the second and third evenings after the day at the hospital we were able to enjoy the city. The doctor said it was fine to go out and move around. We went up the Canton Tower and walked around the city. A business center, lots of tall buildings lit up at night, very clean and a nice skyline. There were hardly any tourists and it was much less busy than I expected China to be. On the third night, our last night in Guangzhou we went to the walking street market.
Not the best start to our world tour spending that much time in a hospital and being in that much pain! Sure hope it is the first and last hospital we visit!
Our next stop was Guilin to the west of Guangzhou. It is to be a 12 hour over night train ride in a hard seat!!! An experience is on the way…