Reality is officially starting to sink in. We’re a mere 10 days out from departure.
In my room in front of the wardrobe is a line of bags and suitcases ready for travel. One bag is packed for the camp in Sydney this weekend. One bag is full of snacks for the plane and competition and the last is my suitcase 90% packed for China.
I’m nervous. Not about the competition, strangely enough, even though that’s the reason I’m going. I’m nervous about traveling to a country that doesn’t speak English and where simple things like food and water can make me sick.
My mother has told me things about traveling in China that has just instilled this fear within me that I can’t seem to shake … She’s told me things like, “Don’t drink the tap water, but be careful buying bottled water because they fill it up with tap water and reseal it” for example, which has just freaked me right out. It’s bad enough that I will be doing a water sport where I get flicked in the face and mouth with dirty Chinese water, let alone stressing too about the “safe” bottled water I’ll be drinking. I feel like nothing is safe over there and I’m going to get incredibly sick incredibly soon after landing which is going to be awful during competition.
My suitcase, at this stage, is 50% clothing, and 50% safety. What is safety? It’s basically food and medicine. Apparently where we are competing there are a lack of resources in terms of supermarkets and pharmacies, so I’m literally taking everything with me. Clothing wise, I’ll deal. I’ll make do with what I have for the regatta and traveling otherwise and be happy with it. But the one thing I can’t afford to leave behind is what will keep me alive for 2 weeks. I’ve got everything I can think of … GastroStop, Buscopan, TravelCalm, charcoal tablets, electrolyte powder, antibiotics, as well as basic first aid equipment. I’ve got snacks and meal replacement shakes which won’t last for 2 weeks but it’ll reduce the number of meals I have to consume over there.
Somehow, back in 2012, I managed to survive 4 days in Cambodia without falling terribly ill. This was taking absolute extreme caution, to the point where I wasn’t even putting my face in shower water. I’m repeating this process for China, but what’s out of my control is how much water I ingest whilst racing. It’s fine for all the paddlers – they’ll be wearing altitude masks so that will block out the water they ingest. But for the sweeps and drummers, we are exposed and I’ve heard that the quality of the water we are meant to be paddling on was so bad they had to drain the lake.
DRAIN THE MOTHERFLIPPING LAKE. How do you even drain a LAKE?!
I am literally so stressed. I don’t do well when I have gastro … I’m not a big person so when I’m sick, I dehydrate really quickly and lose a lot of weight. The last time I had terrible gastro here at home I ended up at home in the emergency department getting re-hydrated via 4 IV bags of fluid, and needles to stop me from being sick. I lost a truckload of weight and was weak for days. How exactly am I meant to deal with this on my own when I’m abroad and everything will make me sick? What am I meant to eat? We’re in Kunming which lacks Western food – rather they have the traditional foods like chicken feet noodle soup etc. which I will not be caught dead consuming. We’ve also been told that vegetarian options are limited over there, which is what I was going to eat, but then I’ve been told not to consume anything that’s been cooked or washed in water. Which I’m going to hazard a guess will be …. vegetables. So am I living off rice for 2 weeks? (Rice is cooked in water though soooooo …..) I am literally stressing about basic standards of living over there.
I’ll have zero communication with family and friends over there because all social media is banned, so I can’t check in on Facebook, or Instagram and let people know I’m OK. Besides which, I’ve been told that even though we’ve got internet, chances are it’s not going to work so not to rely on it for anything.
I absolutely do NOT want to go anymore. I’m terrified. I just want it to be November already where I’ll be home hopefully safe and sound and this whole experience will be behind me. I don’t know how I ever thought I’d be able to survive this …. I think that I had hoped I’d grown up since traveling to Cambodia, but truthfully I’m just as anxious and scared as I was in 2012.
The competition itself doesn’t phase me. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve all put in the hard yards training and the results will be what they’ll be. Personally, I’m not expecting to come home with any medals, given that our competition is intense. The caliber of racing is going to be in a completely different league to anything I’ve ever experienced before, which will be great to experience I guess. It’s just everything around it that’s going to be HARD.
I can’t afford to get sick over there, I really can’t. I’ve lost track of how much money I’ve spent on my portable pharmacy and vaccinations and “normal” food. But there’s only so much I can take with me and sooner or later my supplies will run out and I’m going to have to rely on the local food and beverages to survive. I’m going to have to risk the re-sealed bottled water because I’m not touching a tap over there except to shower. I think Beijing will be slightly better than Kunming, and we’re staying at a high class hotel over there so I have a feeling we’ll be looked after a little bit better than in Kunming. But the fact is that I still have to survive 9 days in Kunming, and I honestly have no idea how hard that is going to be. I’m contemplating more meal replacement shakes, but then I run into the issue of finding water to make them because there are no supermarkets when I use all the ones I’ll buy at the airport.
God help me. It’s all too stressful.
You’re probably thinking I’m over reacting …. Everyone I talk to tells me I’ll be fine and it’ll be so much fun but I’m just not convinced. I want to be, and I wish I could be the “roll with the punches” kind of traveler, but the fact is I can’t stand it when I can’t control my health. Like, if I get a cold, that’s OK. I can roll with that because I know it’ll last 2-3 days and I’ll be feeling crap but then I’ll come good, no harm done. But when you have food poisoning or gastro, you have no control over your stomach, your bowels, or how long it’ll go for and that’s what I can’t deal with. I’m freaking out because it’s something I know I can’t avoid and it’s something I can’t control.
Ok, let’s focus on something else …. This Friday morning I fly to Sydney for our second last camp. The camp runs all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then I’ll fly home on Sunday night. We’re expected to do plenty of on water training as a team, as well as the standard dinner together while we have a look at video footage taken throughout the day.
I’ll be getting up around 4am on Friday morning (or possibly pulling an all nighter like tonight and simply not sleeping since I dont get sleepy these days. YAY INSOMNIA. I’ll need to be at the airport around 5am then my flight leaves at 6am. So it’ll be an early morning and a late finish that day.
I’m staying in Sydney with my coach and head coach as well as Darren, so that’s kind of stressing me out too because I’m just not a people person when I’m stressed. And I have external things in my life which are adding to my stress as well so I think I’m going to find it really hard to stop for 3 days and concentrate purely on dragonboating. But I have to. For the next 4 weeks essentially I need to be living and breathing dragonboating, and optimism and positivity and I bet that you can tell from the start of this post already that I have ZERO zen right now.
Anyway, after flying home Sunday night, it’s another week of work until my last camp starts on Friday morning. I then fly out with some of my team mates, departing at 12:30am on the 15th October.
12:30am. UGH. I’m a particularly bad sleeper as I mentioned before. Terrible insomnia …. Takes me forever to fall asleep and when I DO sleep, I have to be in complete darkness and silence and stillness …. All of which does NOT happen for 10 hours on an aircraft. So, I guess I’m pulling one of many all nighters of my trip. At least it won’t be too hard to adapt to the Chinese time zone? I don’t know. I don’t sleep these days so goodness knows what time zone my body clock runs on.
Speaking of sleep … This has been a 1am sleepless stressed update. I’m off to doze on the couch next to the guinea pig until my alarm goes off in 4 hours.
10 days to go …