China 1999

Written by Al Wong (Write to me)

This is my experience in Beijing, China in the Summer of 1999. If you came to this webpage first, it's better if you start from the beginning of the story.

Monday, July 5th
School Visit, Chinese Hospital

The hot water was turned off completely today. Did I mention the hot water, when not heated, is actually ice cold? This water is much colder than the outside temperature! What do they do? Freeze the water before they heat it up???

Today's activities include:

  • Chinese Hospital. This hospital practices traditional Chinese medicine and is located in a hutong, one of the older Beijing neighborhoods. We saw a doctor who performed accupressure on three of our group. This doctor claimed to be the son of the doctor who treated the last Empress of China.

    Then we saw another doctor perform accupuncture on another patient. However, they did not have time to treat those of us who signed up for this. I was kind of disappointed because I signed up for this treatment and was looking forward to it. Caroline, one of the teachers who also signed up, said it was just as well they didn't treat us as they did not use disposable needles here. Oh well.

    We also visited their pharmacy and saw all kinds of interesting ingredients they use for their medicines including scorpions, seashells and centipedes!

  • School Visit. The school we visited is called Xiyi Middle School and was located near a commercial district. Our driver had difficulty finding it! The school was located down a narrow alley.

    For some reason, it was decided most of the group sing a song from the movie, Mulan, called I'll Make a Man Out. A couple of the guys decided to perform a dance and a martial arts demonstration. I volunteered to play the piano for the school provided I get to use a piano for a few minutes to warm up.

    The school had both high school and junior high school students. Evidently it was a big deal at the school because they were video taping us just as we were getting off the minibus! There were students hanging out the windows trying to see us too.

    We walked around the school, got to see a classroom in action, then we went to the ceremony. They performed a few music numbers with traditional Chinese musical instruments, the guzheng and the erhu. There was a traditional dance number and another student performed two wushu forms, one an unarmed form and a sword form. It was all great.

    Then it was our turn to perform. The girls did the Mulan song with Eugene Chu doing a martial arts form. Andrew Chang did some pretty good break dancing. I didn't perform. Although I asked about a piano, I never got a reply. Cathy didn't bother to tell me until after we left the school that a piano was not available. Oh well.

    We got to talk with the students and it seems I was learning more here in Chinese pronounciation than anywhere else. The students enuciated their Chinese syllables better than anyone I've heard in Beijing. It's probably because they're fresh in school. You get lazy in real life when speaking. I gave away one NASA postcard set to one student and they were impressed with it.

  • Class Session. Our class started late today at 6:30pm and we had a short 2 hours class session today. It's usually 3 hours long. We reviewed yesterday's lesson and then went over giving directions. I found this lesson before to be somewhat difficult for some reason. I will really have to study it in the next 12 hours for tomorrow's class at 8:45am! Yeah, right.

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Last updated : November 8, 1999
Copyright 1999 Al Wong, Los Angeles, California, USA
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