During the day, we started at Peking University, which is both a medical school and a college. They specialize in degree programs – 5 year, 7 year, and 8 year – that prepare people for the medical field. We learned about how different the medical system is in China while there from a dean and a professor. The hospitals are owned by the government, as is the insurance. People go to the hospitals for small ailments like a common cold, because they want the best care possible, but that means the doctors’ time is basically wasted treating 5000 new patients a day (that is the actual number for their hospital). In the parking lot, I saw a glimmer of hope. Most of the cars here are not much bigger than a matchbox car, and I think if I got in one, I’d have to sit in the back seat in order to have enough leg room to drive. But, this guy or girl doesn’t buy that fuel efficiency, ability to park in small spaces, good for the environment mumbo jumbo! I salute you, kind sir or madam, for not following the crowd.
Following that, we hit up Guang An Men Hospital, and learned the intricacies of Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM. We learned about Yin and Yang, and how you get sick when your body is out of balance, and how ginger and hawthorn and dung beetle will cure a headache, and how too much joy will damage your heart and small intestine. We saw a demonstration of cupping, where glass jars are put on the skin with the oxygen sucked out of them by a flame. The cups have a suction that creates red whelps on the skin. This suppossedly relieves tension. We also saw a demonstration of Trina, a certain style of massage that that according to the therapist is more effective than Swedish, or other types of Chinese massage.
For dinner we went to a hotel that had a West Asian flare, although I’m not sure what country or culture the flare was from. There was a belly dancer (Persian?), there was Panjabi music (Indian?), there was pop techno (Japanese? – although that would make it East Asian), but, you see, the belly dancer didn’t move her hips at all (???), and this thoroughly confused me. Her belly stayed still while she moved her shoulders, arms and head. None of the waiters spoke English, the dancer left right after she was done, and, none of the girls here, as far as I could gather, are dancers – only doctors, apparently.
The location of the hotel defied my understanding as well. We parked out on the main road, and walked a couple of blocks (neighborhood style, not the city variety) back through some slummy apartments. I don’t know how much the people pay for apartments like that, but I hope it’s not much, because I don’t think they have any air conditioning, the windows are busted out, and the fence surrounding the buildings is in shambles. There were some guys who, in the midst of that, had class. They had themselves a pool table outdoors, and that guy in the white shirt was roasting some duck or chicken over an open flame. I could tell – they knew how to live. A little further past them was the hotel, painted white and gold. It was clean, renovated-looking, and there was not trash on the steps. It stuck out like a sore thumb. One of the guys from Texas, a different one than the one I sat next to on the plane, said, “It’s like a $50 saddle on a $10 horse.” Hahaha, I couldn’t agree more.
The acrobat show we went to last night needs only this picture to explain the sheer improbability that physics actually apply in China. There is a platform that is about 2 ½ feet tall. On top of the platform stands a 6 foot tall Chinese man who is balancing himself on a see saw with a wheel (it’s actually more like a large spool) underneath it. Two girls are hanging on to a platform on top of his head, with their feet on his hips. A smaller Chinese man is balancing himself on another board with a spool underneath. That would have been hard enough, but since gravity didn’t exist at the time, there was more. The people at the bottom threw bowls up to the guy on the top. He’d then slide them out to the end of the board he was standing on and with a flick of his legs, land them in a bowl on his head. The pinnacle was when he put three cups out on the end of the board, launched them in the air, and they landed, one after the other, in the stack of bowls on his head.