The trip to Beijing has gone swimmingly well so far with one exception. Here’s what happened…
After an exhilarating visit to the Great Wall, my guide convinced me that I had to pay a visit to the Beijing Traditional Chinese Medical Health Preservation Research Center for a “unique” experience.
Located in Beijing’s ChaoYang District, the building looks like any other Western-style office high-rise in Beijing. We take the somewhat smoke-filled and dingy elevator to the 4th floor and enter through a large wooden door to a large and well-lit clinic lobby. Decorated to look more like a spa lobby than a clinic, we were ushered through a maze of narrow corridors to a 10 feet by 6 feet room with a ceiling to floor window on one side and a couch that has seen better days on the other. I was told to sit and wait.
Here’s the view through the window. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Not exactly the most soothing of sights.
In the time that it took for me to snap a couple of shots of the smoke stack and the playground below it, a distinguished, balding older Chinese man in an official looking lab coat (a doctor type right out of central casting) entered the room. Close on his heels were 2 boys who looked like they were fresh out of high school. Each carried a wooden bucket of water. They were followed in by my guide. Turns out the buckets of water were for our feet and we were going to be treated to a little Chinese foot massage.
It wasn’t long before Doctor launches into the underpinnings of Chinese medicine and its 4000-year history. Listening to him blab on in a slightly British-accented English, it occurred to me that I was listening to a verbal reading of a corporate brochure but with less enthusiasm. Although one bit of emotion did come through during the “Western medicine is bad” part of his speech.
After 7 minutes or so, we were joined by 2 women. As the older lady took her place on a stool next to me, Doctor ended his speech. This coincided with the end of the foot soak and the beginning of what was to be the “no pain, no gain” part of the visit.
Before his departure, I did learn that the center was a joint-venture between the government and a quasi-government Chinese pharmaceutical company. Interesting…
In the next phase of this so far benign session, the older lady (we refer to her as Bertha) takes my pulse for 30 seconds, stares at me and then proceeds to tell me in rapid Chinese what was wrong with me. This is what I was able to understand:
– I have weak kidneys
– I had deep cellular damage in my pancreas/liver (not certain which, she vacillated between the two)