Sunday Play Day

Dr. Xu generously arranged for Louie and I to see some sights of the city with Segundo and driver Mr. Chen as our tour guides. At lunch yesterday DR. Xu asked what I might be interested in and had a program was laid out for us. I told him I liked parks, nature and art so that’s where we started, The large city park that contains a huge statues of the Five goats, a very famous monument in Guangzhou. (Guangzhou means “goats” so at one time it must have been the place a lot of goats came from). As well as the huge goat statue at the top of a hill, there was a five-story fort and the original standing wall of the city. The fort contained a very interesting museum with art and artifacts dating from very old to the time of Mao Zedong. A gorgeous city view waited at the top balcony.

The park itself was just what I wanted to experience because parks tell a lot about a city. This was beautifully designed and laid out and was jammed with both locals and tourists, many from the Middle East. Some of the fauna was off limits and posted as such, but much of it was designed to invite visitors in to embed among the plants. There were a lot of older people going Chi Gong exercises, something I’d only seen in television programs on China, but here it was, in the real!

Segundo is a 25 year old Filipino whose job at Fuda is to coordinate patients coming from the Filipinas. He has a huge friendly grin. He’s the type of personality every guy would like for his best friend and every girl would want for a boyfriend. He and driver Mr. Chen accompanied us first to the park, then to a recommended Thai restaurant in the main shopping district.. After a delicious lunch, where I worked on my chop-stick skills, we were off to shop for Christmas gifts!

Just in case my family back home is reading my blog, I’m going to decline to tell what we bought except to say, for my daughter, we went into a store that contained about 20 small closet size pocket venders who offered every kind of trendy young woman outfit and accessories imaginable. For an American, the prices were lower than reasonable. We quickly became over whelmed!!

Down the center walkway of the outdoor mall large glass coverings allowed visual access to the original main roadway of Guangzhou. The Chinese are very proud of their heritage and looking down on the ancient patterned stones making up the roadway was just as popular as going into the inviting shops lining the main mall walkway. The press of the crowd began to tire us out. We were ready for our next major treat.

It would seem that Segundo had figured out the best place in Guangzhou to get a really great, authentic Chinese massage. Down what appeared to Louie and I to look like a back ally we found our destination: “Late night Massage”. Up a steep grand stairway, through a bar, restaurant entrance, into some bamboo decorated back rooms dominated by four huge lounge chairs and a flat screen TV. We were invited to sit in one while Segundo and Chen negotiated the financial terms of what we were about experience.

Soon entered four young women attired in athletic polo shirts and stretch pants. They pulled back the tops of our foot rest to reveal rectangular tubs which were first lined with thin plastic liners, then filled with very hot water and large herb filled “tea” bags. First our feet were soaked while our masseuses began massaging our knees and thighs., next our now softened and clean feet. So began our “three hour “ massage!! My practitioner, “#58”, had the strongest fingers imaginable!! They worked my acupuncture meridians and boy could she find the spots!! Her technique was so accomplished I had to keep opening my eyes to see how she was doing it. That’s how I discovered she was often texting on her phone as she worked my meridian lines!! I quickly melted into a pile of bones and flesh that she could push and pull however she wanted. Discovering I was flexible she began sitting on me and pulling various appendages to their full range of motion. Before I knew it, she was totally sitting on me and working me with elbows or even feet. I looked over to Louie next to me and saw his masseuse totally walking up and down his spine!! It’s a good thing they gave use strong herbal tea when finished. We were so wiped out we could hardly make it back to the van.

But it was a good thing we did! A very delicious Chinese dinner awaited us at a restaurant down the street, filled with families on a Sunday meal out. Our soon to be meal greeted us in fish tanks as we entered. The Chinese seem to believe they would be cheating you were they not to include the head with the meat dish you order, (if it’s small enough to fit on the plate). They also believe in mixing meats at the same meal. At this one we were treated to fish, a small duck, and beef, all coming with various vegetables. But first there was a salty and delicious clear-ish soup with a big hunk of pig in it. A most scrumptious and interesting tasting herb tea accompanied our meal. The first mix of herbs and water is used to wash the small teapot with the first tea thrown out into a porcelain dish through a cover with holes in it. The tea is served in tiny cups and Mr. Chen made sure ours were always full with a fresh hot supply. It truly made the food go down easier. The Chinese don’t usually include sweets or stimulates with their meals. But a cool Chinese beer perfectly hit the spot.

Cultural note:
At most toilets, which are in the ground and needed to be squatted over, the user needs to provide their own toilet paper. Most people carry small Kleenex packs with them. Ditto with napkins. A nice restaurant might provide you with a small Kleenex, but it’s often required you supply your own.

Both Louie and I practically crawled into bed when we made it back to the hospital.. We couldn’t decide if we felt more like we’d had a strenuous workout or were just totally wiped out. Either way it led to my first really solid night’s sleep since arriving here!!