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Sunday–our last day in China :(

June 1, 2009

Sunday morning was reserved for packing–or rather trying to stuff  clothes, souvenirs, and gifts for family and friends into already bulging suitcases and bags.

Some of us did some last minute shopping before gathering in the hotel for the hour bus trip to the Beijing airport and home.

…what a fantastic two weeks in China!
…so many impressions to sort out, process, and ponder!
…saw and experienced so much that was new to all of us.
…met and interacted with many interesting people so willing to share their culture with us.
…so many photos and mementos to share with our families, friends, and co-workers.
…from start to finish, an expeience of such MAGNITUDE NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN!!!!

Bruce

P.S.– Even though our trip is over, the blog will continue with more photos and dialog once they are unpacked, downloaded, and sorted out…..check back soon!

Bruce

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Saturday: from the old to the new

June 1, 2009

Saturday morning began with a trip to the Temple of Health in downtown Beijing. Another sprawling complex of parks, buildings, and plazas. Thousands of Beijing citizens were out doing exercises, dancing, and walking early in the morning. Scattered around the area were impromptu performers playing Chinese musical instruments and singing.

Followng a traditional Chinese lunch, we headed to the opposite end of Beijing for a visit to the site of the 2008 Olympic games. The first stop was the WATER CUBE, the site of the aquatic events. Sitting in the seats overlooking the pool brought back memories of watching the games on TV thousands of miles away! The modernistic BIRD”S NEST was the next site that we vistied. This is the stadium where track & fields events were held. The size of both venues was enormous as was the entire area of open plazas.

The last stop of the day was at a pearl showroom where we were first shown pearl gathering techniques as well as how to differentiate real from fake pearls. Of course, the inevitable shopping opportunity appeared as we were escorted upstairs to the sales floor. However, this time we were both exhausted and experiencing dwindling funds after two weeks in China. Not to mention that pearls ain’t cheap. Only a few small sales were made.

For dinner, many of us had been wanting to try traditional Chinese noodles. Our tour guide directed us to a nearby noodle restaurant where we enjoyed a bittersweet last dinner in China. Each of us was served a gigantic bowl of noodles, meat, vegetables, and broth–enough to fill us up completely.

The Bird's Nest at the 2008 Olympic site

The Bird's Nest at the 2008 Olympic site

Temple of Health in Beijing

Temple of Health in Beijing

Friday–adventure, awe, and yes, shopping!

June 1, 2009

Our first stop on Friday morning was the Beijing Dragon Land Superior Jade Gallery, which is advertised as one of the largest jade meccas in Asia. The Biejing area is noted for centuries for its exquisite and high quality jade. After a short tour of the jade carving area, we were unleashed into the store to shop! And that we did–like pros! But NO price haggling or negotiating here!

A bus ride of about a half hour, mostly uphill, took us to undoubtedly one of the highlights of our trip to China–the GREAT WALL. The section that we visited was the 600 year old Badaling Fortification area which was built during the Ming dynasty. The entire Great Wall is over 4,000 miles in length, and it snakes its way across mountains and valleys in northern China. Its purpose was to defend against invaders, and was built in stages beginning in the 7th centruy BC.

For about an hour and a half, we explored and climbed up and back down sections–some very steep–of the Great Wall. It was a beautiful clear, but windy day, and the views of the surrounding mountains were awe inspiring. The sensation of walking along the wall on centuries old stones and steps and wondering how the Chinese built such a magnificent structure so long ago was awesome!

Following the Great Wall experience, we traveled back down the narrow and twisting mountain roads for lunch and a tour of the Cloisonne factory. Cloisonne is hand-crafted enamelware that is both highly colorful, orantely detailed, and decorative. It comes in a wide array of sizes and pieces–vases, plates, and cups. Made of coppers etched with inticate designs, each piece is highly colorful and was a symbol of authority and status in ancient times. Following a tour of the production areas, another “planned” shopping opportunity followed, and we, of course, fell for it!

The last stop of the day was at the Ming tombs outside of Beijing. Another sprawling complex of meticulously preserved builings, the highlight of the Ming tombs was the Underground tombs area. The tomb were five floors beneath the surface. Much of this entire complex, where 13 emperors are entombed, has yet to be excavated. Only a few of the tombs have been explored and opened to date.

After returning to the hotel, our tour guide located a restaurant nearby within walking distance that specialized in Peking Duck dinners. Four ducks were ordered and a great new dining experience followed. A nice way to conclude a busy and memorable day!

The Great wall at Badaling Fortification

The Great wall at Badaling Fortification

Thursday— Beijing, here we come!

June 1, 2009

Following an early morning wake-up call, everyone in our group met in the hotel lobby, luggage in tow, for an 8:00 am bus ride to the airport for our flight to Beijing. A little tension began to build as 8:00 came and went with no bus. No bus at 8:15, 8:30, 8:45. Finally, a little before 9:00, the bus pulled up, and we quickly loaded luggage and people and we  were off in under 5 minutes!

Fortunately, rush hour traffic was lighter than normal due to the start of a three-day Chinese holiday–the Dragon Head festival. Many people had the day off from work. Despite a late departure from the hotel, we arrived at the airport in pplenty of time. Thanks to our Nanjing Medical University hosts who accompanied us to the airport, we were quickly pointed in the right direction and at the boarding gates with time to spare.

The flight, however, was an hour late in departing, as we sat on the tarmac due to heavy traffic. We arrived at the Beijing airport a little after 2:00 pm at the newly constructed Terminal 3. This sleek and efficiently designed facility opened in 2008 to handle the increased traffic generated by the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Our new tour guide for the Beijing segment of our trip was waiting for us, and had us on the bus and on the way for our first destination in Beijing–the FORBIDDEN CITY.

The Forbidden City was a massive complex of ancient, but very well preserved buildings in the center of Beijing that served as the Inperial Palace for a succession of Emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Construction began in 1407, and the inner sanctum was never seen by the world for over 500 years. The emperors, their families, servants, officials, and even the emperors’ concubines lived here in secluded luxury. The massive complex contains 800 separate buildings with 9,999 rooms located amid plazas, courtyards, and gardens.

Our next destination,Tianamen Square, is located next to the Forbidden City, and it is the largest public city square in the world. From ancient to modern times, the square has been a gathering place with great political significance. On one side of the square sits the Chinese Parliment building, and on the opposite side is the newly built Chinese Revolution Museum scheduled to open soon.
The Chairman Mao Mausoleum, built in 1977, sits at the far end of Tianamen Square. The massive expanse of this area can not be appreciated until one walks from one end to the other–it takes a good 10 minutes to complete this walk!

Following these visits, we checked into our hotel which was located in a pedestrian-only busy shopping and dining area blocked off from vehicular traffic.

Longing for a taste of “Western” food, we found a McDonald’s nearby, and Dr. Davidson treated all of us to dinner. A very nice mnager realized the language barrier, and she took our orders at the table, and then hand delivered them to each of us. Never had this kind of service at McDonald’s in the States! Following our dinner of familiar comfort food, we hit some of the neighboring shops before returning to the hotel.

–Bruce

Wednesday-May 27: Nanjing hospital visits

June 1, 2009

Wednesday was spent primarily visiting several hospitals in Nanjing. Our first stop was the JIANGSU PROVINCE HOSPITAL. The sprawling complex of buildings connected by bridges and walkways is centered around an 18-story tower. The hopsital has a total of 2,200 beds and was founded in 1936. An astounding 2.8 million patients present at the Emergency Department annually! This health care facility is heavily committed to the 3 tenets of patient care, education, and research. In 2008 alone, the institutions alone produced 1,160 published articles. Some of the strengths of this facilty include cardiology, liver transplantation, and in vitro fertilization programs.

We also toured a newly opened Geriatrics buildings that provides an array of services to the elderly, defined in China as 80 years and older.

After lunch served in the Nanjing Medical University campus restaurant, we traveled to several other sites, including the maternity and pediatric hospitals, as well as the fertility clinical and research facilities. Each area was very busy and active places.

Tomorrow, we pack our bags and leave for Beijing, our final destination in China!

Tuesday, May 26

May 26, 2009

I can’t believe that it is already Tuesday of our second week here! Time is going by way too fast!

Today is largely a free day for us— We have been exploring the shopping areas that surround our hotel. Several students from the Nanjing Medical University have graciously offered to escort us in between their classes to walk around to one of the large department stores a few blocks away as well as to an underground funky mall with hundreds of small shops selling everything from clothes to shoes to jewelry to trinkets. At 5:30 pm, we are meeting in the hotel lobby to head out for dinner. Rumor has it that we are going to eat “Western” style– that means a trip to KFC or McDonald’s! We are all longing for something from home to eat!

chinese_american_tourgroup

Wednesday will be a day of visiting several hospital facilities in and around Nanjing before flying to Beijing on Thursday!

Monday — day of business (and fun, too!)

May 26, 2009

Monday morning was spent primarily at the Nanjing Medical University where we toured several of the buildings, including the Library at the downtown Watai campus. Following the tours and meetings with students, we left the downtown campus and headed to the larger and newer suburban campus just outside Nanjing.

The Jianging campus is a sprawling green campus with lakes and large modern buildings spread out across hundreds of acres of land. The library here is a modern, state-of-the-art facility that serves as the central health sciences library for the Jiangsu Province of China. The library has over 940,000 books and 4,700 periodical subscriptions in both English and Chinese. Many additional resources are available electronically across the campus from well-known vendors such as Elsevier Science Direct, EBSCOhost, and OVID/Lippincott-Williams & Wilkins.

During the afternoon, in a light rain, we toured various campus buildings including labs, learning areas, nursing simulation facilities, and state-of-the-art computer labs. The level of technology and innovative learning tools here was impressive. I would have loved to have stayed behind and played with some of the programs even though they were all in Chinese! Towards the end of the afternoon, we gathered with our student and faculty counterparts for presentations by RMU student Jen Maley and RMU School of Nursing Dean, Dr. Lynda Davidson, on trauma services in America and Nursing in America. The Nanjing Medical University students presented each of us with hand-made Chinese ornaments that we will cherish as a memory of our visit to their school.

What followed was what quickly became the highlight of the day: a stop at the school canteen (cafeteria) for a hands-on lesson in the Chinese art of making dumplings! Students and faculty from both schools joined together in making trays of dumplings which were later cooked and served as part of our dinner! Everyone had great fun making (and soon perfecting) the art of creating dumplings-Chinese style! A great way to end a very educational day!