Last Thursday, I spend most of my afternoon packing for the trip to China. Then, I drive out to LA and take the direct flight from LAX to PEK on a very full plane. The plane lands a little ahead of schedule, and Dr. Zheng and Mgr. Sun meet me at the airport. We get lost on our way into the city of Beijing. Nevertheless, we make it in time to meet my parents, clean up, and then head to church in Gangwashi. Afterwards, we spend the afternoon strolling through the gardens of the Summer Palace amidst the throngs of tourists.
On Sunday, we all go to the flea market at Panjiayuan during a chilly rainstorm. Mainly, we window shop without buying much. After lunch, Dr. Zheng suggests that we climb Fragrant Hill just outside of Beijing, about 20 km away. Leaving my parents at a shopping district, we start the climb around 4 pm. We peak just after sunset, spend several minutes taking in the view of city lights, and then descend by groping through the darkness.
The next morning, I see my parents off as they head for more touring of the city before heading to the airport for the return trip. Dr. Zheng, Mgr. Sun and I stop by this little hole-in-the-wall place for a traditional Chinese breakfast before driving to Tangshan. We arrive in Tangshan just before noon, and after a little rest, we meet up with the hospital leaders for lunch. After an afternoon of lectures and an elaborate banquet that followed, we enjoyed an evening show featuring the hospital’s 50th anniversary.
I give the first lecture on Tuesday. In the late morning, we participate in the opening ceremonies and ribbon cutting for the beautiful new building. Then, I attend more lectures in the afternoon.
This morning, after breakfast, we go to the earthquake memorial, which has quite a nice display of the historical timeline of Tangshan over the last century. It’s amazing to see the recovery of such a devastating loss. After that, we return to the hotel to have lunch with the hospital leaders. For this meal, they only prepare vegetarian dishes. I then tour the hand surgery floor, which takes up a third of the hospital. We conclude our day by touring the Eastern Qing Tombs—mainly the underground palace of the Empress Dowager Cixi. Mgr. Sun swerves between lanes to get us to the airport on time, and the flight home is uneventful, except for nearly missing my flight due to underestimating the time it takes to get from the checkpoint to the gate.
It feels good to be home.