Jabs, millipedes and grainy nylon sheets.
Looking at the map the nurse and I decided that where I am going is too low risk to warrant anti-malaria treatment (side-effects can be unpleasant, apparently), but have been told to keep myself well-covered with thick clothing and tuck my socks into my trousers if I go into the countryside. I shall also apply a thick layer of a strong insect repellent, and the face net I bought for Greenland might come in handy. Another tip, apparently, is to inspect myself for ticks and bites when I'm back inside the hotel. It's not only malaria, but Lyme disease that might be a problem.
Rabies, apparently, is endemic - so I have been warned to keep clear of animals, and if I am bitten or scratched, or if some animal spit somehow enters my eyes, to go to a large clinic for treatment. I have also been told where to buy needles and syringes 'just in case'.
Apart from that I was warned to avoid stall-sold food, and only eat food that I can see is freshly cooked. I am thinking that some antiseptic wipes might be an excellent idea so that I can maybe give my plates and chopsticks a sly wipe. It is best to stick to fizzy drinks, and no ice-cubes and salad. Usually I like to experience the authentic local food, but I think in China I might have to be a little more cautious.
In 'Where Underpants Come From - From Checkout to Cotton Field- Travels Through the New China', which I am reading at the moment, Joe Bennett entertainingly describes eating shrimps and millipedes that he has to kill himself by dunking into a vat of boiling water at his table in Quanzhou. He says he can find little of the animal to actually ingest.
Hodmandod and I were discussing this eating-of-whole-animal business last night, and he said that something people rarely seem to consider is that the intestinal tract of, say, a millipede might be full, and therefore the 'whole animal' is likely to consist of excreta too. I pointed out that if thoroughly boiled this wouldn't really matter, but he seemed unconvinced.
Apart from the food Joe Bennett describes finding himself in a hotel in a place which doesn't cater for tourists - which sounds much like the description of Yizhou (my destination on 'Day 12'). The sheets, he says, are nylon and 'grainy', and the services of escort girls are advertised on the walls. That, for me, would be worse than the live millipedes - but it would only be for a night, and anyway I've done that already in a certain establishment in Bremerhaven: the towels were navy-blue and stiff, the bed sheets orange brushed nylon, the breakfast cups chipped and, at 1.30 in the morning, I was woken from a doze to hear hammering on the front door of the isolated building - and then the drunken voice of what I presumed was a client of one of the other guests as he stomped up the stairs banging on each hardboard door in turn.
Thinking about it, after Bremerhaven - or even Chester on a Saturday night - China might seem quite civilised.