China Trip 1988
Hong-Kong & Xiamen
I was part of a month long clinical internship at a "traditional Chinese medicine hospital" in Xiamen during the Fall of 1988.
The trip to Xiamen actually begins in Hong Kong, followed by an overnight boat ride north to Xiamen.
*Enjoy the pictures, then if you want more of the story, see the end of the section.
**Adjust your browser view using bottom R corner arrows:
Narrow: let's you to view 1 photo at a time;
Wider: lets you see rows (2-4 pics per row)
I lived in Xiamen (Amoy on older maps) on the coast of Fujian province across the strait from Taiwan (Formosa), on the Tropic of Cancer (23.5 degrees North latitude), for about a school year.
Population, I was told, around 2 million.
I think the major industry was shipping and subsequent re-distribution.
Xiamen has a huge natural harbor, analogous to a place like Oakland, CA, and a large number of cargo ships moved in and out each day.
Historically fishing was probably the main activity and indeed every morning the traditional fishing boats still went out. The markets were full of seafood, mostly still alive in plastic basins. Pick your own dinner.
It's about 100 miles to the main island of Taiwan, but there are lots of little islands in the strait that "belong" to Taiwan.
One island was clearly visible from the beach when I lived at the University "Xia Da".
There were giant loudspeakers mounted on this island that periodically broadcast "propaganda" to the mainland. I understand that in the past this was more actively going on than when I was there.
Because of this proximity there is a military base in Xiamen and one evening when I was walking on the beach a group of soldiers told me I had to leave - there was a curfew because they were afraid some people might try to swim to the island, which I think was at least a couple miles away. I managed to convince them that I was not a likely candidate since I was obviously there by choice and could in fact leave any time. Amazingly, they let me stay.
That said it was not easy to get in and out of Xiamen. They were building an airport, but it was not finished and I arrived there by boat. It is ~20 hr. boat ride north of Hong Kong, which is where the gallery photos begin. Actually Xiamen is itself an island connected to the mainland by a causeway.
It's funny when you 'live' somewhere the novelty wears off and you don't take pictures like when you are a tourist and I fell into that normalcy, so most of my pictures were at the beginning and the end of my stay.
I have uploaded a series of pics from the traditional hospital I/we studied at.
We went there for a clinical internship.
This series has quite a few people shots, most of whom I am not going to name for you, but I thought I would identify the organizers, of which I was one.
I was the stateside link that recruited most of the participants.
The central organizer was Andy Ellis – he had the specific connection to the hospital – one of his teachers had been on staff there, though he had retired.
Andy's wife, Shengjing, is from Taiwan and indeed all the other organizers were living in Taiwan at the time. They included Nigel Wiseman, Ken Boss, and his wife Leilei.
Nigel, who should be well known by now within CM circles, was the primary linguist – he is fluent in Chinese and a number of other languages and can get along in quite a few more.
Ken was tech support trying to keep our computers operational (this was the early days and floppy disks were still floppy and screens were about 3" square and white or green or yellow print on a black background.
Andy & I were medical. We had all collaborated for the publication of the "Fundamentals Of Chinese Acupuncture".
In fact, I brought the first copies, hot off the press from Paradigm with me (this was the green cover version), which even on the plane looking it over I started to edit.
Sometime later our revised edition replaced it, this time with a red cover.
Our plan, and the arrangement made with the hospital was for them to house us (room and board) while we worked on writing a series of books on Chinese medicine, which Paradigm agreed to publish.
In exchange we would bring (western) students/dollars once or twice a year for month long internships at the hospital.
This arrangement quickly fell apart and after a second group of students went home, it was deemed untenable (they-the hospital wanted a new group every month), so it would have been a constant flow, leaving us no time to work on the books we were interested in writing and publishing.
Our translation group disbanded and everyone left except me. I transferred to the university to study Chinese language and remained there through the rest of the school year, which culminated with the TAM square event, after which I could see it was time to depart. Things had changed so much, and I was afraid my presence would adversely effect my Chinese friends there, if not in the short run, almost certainly in the long term.
I so value that time and those experiences and my appreciations go out to some of the closest friends I ever had.
*Sorry, I just take pictures, I would not even deign to call myself even an amateur photographer.
I had a basic SLR camera, using actual film, turned into prints now over 30 years old.
I am scanning them in to my computer one at a time for display here. I hope you enjoy them.
**By 'Traditional' Hospital I mean that they only practiced traditional Chinese medicine there. (zhongyi=traditional dr.)
It was common, and still is, for "traditional medicine" to only be a "department" within a larger "western" medicine hospital, in fact I visited a couple of those too.
Also of note, our hospital was undergoing major building renovation at the time (hence the need for money), but you can see the grounds (bare) where the new building was to be erected.
As a 'Special Economic Zone' Xiamen had an enormous amount of building going on and a lot of foreign businesses setting up shop.
***Hospital Operations: we were mostly in the outpatient sector which saw patients during morning hours and it was typical for whole families to arrive together, so things were crowded and a bit chaotic and we of course were the biggest invaders disrupting the normal course of treatment, but everyone took it all in stride, and oh all the doctors smoked pretty much constantly!
In the afternoon we either followed a doctor doing rounds in the in-patient wing or had "class" – different doctors lectured on their specialty/topic translated by Nigel & Andy with help from Shengjing and Leilei.
*I think we calculated that a typical acupuncture visit for the patient cost about 3 cents and herbs were about 25-50 cents a thermos. Typically an herb prescription was prepared at the hospital and dispensed in a thermos, which would last 1-3 days, and which they brought back when finished.
Mostly acupuncture patients came every day, likewise for the in-patient care – daily treatments, sometimes even more frequently.
The doctors made $30 a month, but also got housing, not sure if they got meals too.
We lived there at the hospital too, not sure if we displaced anyone, or if they just happened to have empty rooms.
There was a large cafeteria conveniently situated between our housing and the hospital itself.
We were assigned a house-mother to watch over and take care of us - we called her A-yi (Auntie).
She was a wonderful person and actually invited us to her home for a meal (which we later figured out probably cost her a month's salary or more). We took up a collection and gave her a red envelope gift to cover the cost. I also made the egregious faux-pas of giving her a hug as a thank you. Scandalous!