I mentioned being disinfected on the approach into China. Maybe I spoke too soon. Turns out my entire family back home has been completely waylaid by some Stephen King strain of influenza. Fevers, painful coughing, locusts, general pestilence — all coming down at once. The disease vector this time was — surprise — my kids. My father-in-law calls children “poison dwarves” and he ain’t kidding. Sometimes I think my son’s school is a front for a biological weapons laboratory.
So here I am on the other side of the planet worrying that a time-release virus is waiting for the most inopportune time to blossom into full-blown misery for me. I’m OK now, but I just know I’m doomed. So I get the name of some potent flu-prevention meds from back home and think, what the hell, I’ll see if I can get them here. I slip the bellboy a note and some RMB and ask him to find me the best Oseltamivir Phosphate he could find. He scurries off and only then does it occur to me that I’m probably going to be hauled off to SARS quarantine or something. Then I recall that the newspapers on the plane mentioned the latest bird flu outbreak in Vietnam and Thailand and the steps China is taking to keep it out. So, if the virus doesn’t get me, the anti-virus police will. Nice going, John. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.
What luck that I should discover that my hotel room is actually outfitted with dual gas masks, should I develop symptoms of influenza (or bird flu!) and not care to infect my co-workers. The best part of these beauties: pop-top lids. Like they should be in the minibar or something.
Here are two of my favorite pieces of signage today. The first is a gem from the Forbidden City in central Beijing. Apparently, it wants to be loved just like everyone else.
And lastly, this pictogram. To many people this says “squat toilet ahead.” To some it says “impossible feats of human levitation ahead.” To most Westerners, however, it simply says “run away, run away fast … and clench!”