Well, the direct translation isn’t yank on stomach. It’s actually “pull stomach”. However, that doesn’t do reality justice. It’s more like yank/tug/jerk stomach. Kinda like an internal combustion engine working overtime through the intestines. And I have it. This is not unexpected. Almost every foreigner (well, Westerner), gets it within one or two weeks of an extended stay in China. I mean, it’s totally understandable. The food here tastes amazing. Especially the food you can get on the street.

Every time you make a purchase, even if it’s the same food purchased from the same little mart, could taste just a little different than you remember it, but still taste incredibly good. Unfortunately, stomachs of most Westerners must go through its own version of culture shock as it deals with the reality of a different flavor of food. The results can be quite impressive. Exhaustion is just one symptom after a long sit in the thinking room.

Anyway, I thought I had beat it. I was set. Last night, I went to bed early. I woke up early. I felt great. I had some bread for breakfast. I had some potstickers for lunch. Lamb was on the inside. I didn’t think lamb would upset my stomach as I figured pork would. Anyhow, my taste buds thanked me profusely for such a tasty meal for lunch. I finished studying. Half-an-hour flies by. No eruptions are immenent. Maybe I had beat the tide. An hour goes by. Nothing on the horizon. I think I’ve beat it. Now, to go out with friends and check out the Olympic Stadium.

That’s when it hit. Not before I left my room. Not when I was waiting downstairs for my friends. Not even when we left the apartment. But when we stepped across the university gate leading to the outside world, I noticed something concerning. A distant rumbling warning of things to come.

Now, for a foreigner, there is something that must be understood about China. The toilets here are not exactly of the sitting nature. Rather, they are of the squatting family. I’ve never been a fan of that brand of commode. This is my third extended trip to this part of the world and I have yet to be put in a position where balancing my weight in a squat position is my only option. However, it seems that Beijing has even fewer assisted squatters than Shanghai or even Taiwan. It seems that the old fashioned way of doing things is my only option if I’m caught outdoors in a dire need to find someplace private to do my business.

In other places in this part of the world, McDonald’s is a trusted place to find something to sit on. However, in Beijing, even McDonald’s has not imported this most luxurious of Western cultural artifacts.

So, we begin this trip. Within five minutes of our travel, I am concerned. Thirty minutes in, we’ve reached the Olympic Stadium. I can’t hold it any longer. By this time, squatting and getting rid of the constant pain within seems better than trying to hold it in. I search for a stall. I figure, if anywhere in Beijing has something to sit upon for me to do my most important business, it’s got to be the Olympic area. I mean, the Chinese served thousands of Westerners not four years ago. They had to have provided something to sit on, right?

Fortunately, the answer to that question is yes. Unfortunately for me, and much to my chagrin, the one thing they did not provide in that private compartment was toilet paper. In none of those stalls could toilet paper be found. There wasn’t even any paper towels. They’ve gone green in their effort to conserve waste. So, I take care of business, learn some lessons and return home.

After I clean up, I have some dinner consisting of crackers and peanut butter. Surely, my stomach will welcome such old and familiar products. Not quite. In fact, not until I break down and grab some sprite and gatorade does my stomach calm down and begin to rest.

This time, however, I will not underestimate the power of the Pull Stomach. A friend is hooking me up with some medicine tomorrow as well as yogurt that kills stomach bugs. I shall conquer for I will never give up! And I will never accept defeat! I will endure! And I will succeed!


Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar