Very Sick in China: The Yangshuo People’s Hospital

Kelsey Breseman
4 min readApr 12, 2019

I wasn’t feeling fully myself on the day we went climbing. Tired, I lay in a bamboo stand and watched others climb the juggy rocks after only a few routes. On the next day, when we went to beautiful Xingping for hiking, my body felt even more strange. The hikes were not very intense, and I’m usually game for any mountain, but I struggled. I wore a mask in air filled with firecracker smoke and blamed it for my fast-beating heart. We tried to hike to a fishing village over a nearby hill, but eventually I lay down by the roadside while Jia explored onward.

By the time we got back to Yangshuo and our hostel, my body was so achy and tired that I crawled into my bed, foregoing the idea of dinner.

The next day, I never left our room.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t seek out a cement-walled room with no outside window, but the light stayed dim, the cement insulated against sound, and the damp was somewhat pleasant in the warm weather. Jia brought me steamed buns and fruit to eat in between her bicycle adventures. I slept a lot and took my temperature.

I had a fever, climbing: 99, 100. Also dysentery.

“If I still have a fever in the morning, we should go find a hospital,” I agreed to Jia.

In the morning, I hit 101.3 and so Jia looked up a place while I found a blog post on what to expect.

The Yangshuo People’s Hospital was only a ten minute walk away. But I was pretty lightheaded, so sought out a chair as soon as we arrived– in the emergency room, on the advice of our innkeeper Lili.

Lili’s hospitality extended not only to leading our climbs as a paid expert guide and arranging dinners for the climbing community, but also apparently to helping with hospital visits. She’d arrive within half an hour in case we needed help navigating the system.

But with enough annoying questions at the nurses’ stand, Jia was doing a pretty good job. She shuffled me to payment counter (5 kuai), into an office to translate a doctor’s basic questions (what hurts? What degree fever?), back to the payment counter to get a receipt for a blood test, into a blood sampling and IV drip room with seats like airplane chairs lined up to host those receiving fluids (cartoons on the big screen), back to the main hall to hand off the sample to the lab and find a chair to abate my nearly fainting.