Photo Galleries from China – 1992

Here are photos taken while studying in China in 1992 –
from out of the ‘vault’ to you…more to come later.

1.
Zhejiang provincial hospital, Hangzhou, Zhejiang

2. TCM University teaching hospital, Hangzhou, Zhejiang

3. around Hangzhou, the West lake, surroundings

4. around Guilin – southern China

After travelling through parts of Southeast asia in 1991-1992, I had the opportunity to travel with a German friend to China in the Spring of 92, the year of the Monkey. Arriving in Hongkong, we took a boat to Yanshou and Guilin – followed by an interesting train trip to Hangzhou.

In Hangzhou, on the way to visiting where my friend would be studying, the TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) College, a man seeing us walking with our backpacks insisted that we visit the Zhejiang Provincial Hospital on the way there. At that hospital I spent the bulk of my time, while still living at the College and studying there as well. The Hospital was also 2 blocks away from the beautiful and famous “West Lake”, and had a thriving night market on its streets.

At the hospital I was introduced to a couple of young doctors who were also translators and together we chose to observe doctors they were also interested in studying. I spent some time in the acupuncture ward – but the majority I spent studying with two herbal doctors. In the TCM university system of China, the herbalists were accorded highest regard (though it seemed it was only my comments, as a paying participant, that caused their administrators to fix a broken fan in the very stuffy and hot exam room).

Dr. Li Shu-Keng was my favorite, he was a internal medicine herbalist – a “Lung-stomach” doctor – treating everything respiratory/digestive from acute bronchitis to Liver cancer. Always gracious, casual and precise – I learned a lot from writing down his herb formulas and asking a quick question or two between patients.

The hospital, at that time, was very interesting looking – kind of like a large old French hotel from the outside when viewed from certain angles, with blue awnings. A bit dilipidated, but always clean and warm. A thriving night market happened on its street in the evenings There was an inpatient ward – and acupuncturists would go there a twice a day and do basic points on recovering patients – kind of like ‘watering the plants’ – really perked them up. A Qi gong ward was downstairs from the acupuncture room, and a large pharmacy was on the first floor. Also there were some regular modern MDs around for lab tests, and a dental clinic next door to the acupuncture room (which I often mention to patients who have overly idealistic hopes that Chinese medicine will replace dentistry for them).

The hospital obviously wasn’t as well-funded as the modern hospital that was being built nearby – already in 1992 the society was reaching for the flashier, quicker result oriented approach of the medicine we know here. But the old guard was being held up – the respect given to the doctors by the patients, and just the feel of the camaraderie was a great deal of what I got from the experience. Doctors weren’t the wealthiest or best dressed around – a little shabby actually – but that’s not what counted. The care given to the patients and to the craft of preserving and extending Chinese medicine was palpable, indeed inspiring. You can see in the photos the patients lined up behind the tables, waiting their turn patiently – perhaps after having taken a train for a day or two to get there…

Since I left there, larger groups of students began to come to the hospital from abroad. I was grateful to have been able to have a one-on-one experience for a few short months – and to be able to experience what Hangzhou had to offer (including drinking Dragonwell tea every morning with the docs).

—Ken