Drinking BaiJiu – the default Chinese ricewine/vodka with a 50% alcohol percentage – is a compulsory drinking tradition for Chinese people while having dinner with friends or any other celebration whatsoever.
57-year-old Shen Ailan, from Huangshi, Hubei Province, had engaged in exactly one such big drinking feasts. After having consumed two bottles of the lethal (if you have ever tried it you know it is lethal) drink she decided she was sober enough for a dip in the Yangtze river.
This was at 3pm on the 22nd of July, 2014.
Ten hours later, having drifted 75 kilometers across two provinces, she was rescued by a couple in the Jiangxi province. Miraculously she was unharmed.
“I didn’t have any safety equipment and later fell asleep in the river,” said Shen. “When I woke up, the sky was dark and I was floating on the river with wooden sticks and garbage tangled in my hair.”
When she woke up in the river Shen tried to reach the bank but the strong current quickly carried her further downstream. She called out for help to nearby boats, but none could react in time. It was only an hour later that those aboard a boat downstream were able to toss her a buoy. Shen was finally rescued at 1 am by Ruichang, Jiangxi residents Li Fuchun and his wife as she floated past their boat repair company located along the river.
Li’s employees, locals and two police officers also assisted in the rescue. “I could smell the alcohol on her when we took her out of the water,” Li recalled.
“I have no idea what happened between going into the water and being pulled out, but I am only grateful that I survived,” Shen Ailan told reporters. “And I can certainly say that I won’t be going near alcohol again for some time.”