Shanghai & Nanjing, China – 1986
June 3 – Shanghai
I was too tired to write last night and am weary again tonight, so I have a feeling this will be a short journal! Yesterday we went to our first hospital tour in Shanghai. We met in a large boardroom first where they told us about the hospital and served us loose-leaf fragrant Jasmine tea in china mugs with a lid to keep it hot. We learned to sip it through our teeth so we didn’t swallow the tea leaves! They told us some health statistics in China compared to the USA.
Then we toured the pediatric ward. They have a few pieces of new equipment, but it looks pretty antiquated otherwise – about 1950 era.
I was excited to talk with Dr. X, a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, and give him a gospel of John tucked inside my hospital’s magazine. How I pray he would read the gospel of John and receive Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. He is going to Canada next month to study for a year.
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life; he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Believest thou this? John 11:25-26
Then they served us an elegant lunch at the Seaman’s Club overlooking the harbor. We had the unique experience of eating “1000-year-old eggs”! They explained how they hard boil the eggs, remove the shell, and bury them in some type of mud until the egg turns black. It was OK, but one was enough! Then on to the Yu Garden with the zig-zag bridge which was very pretty, even though there are no flowers in the garden. (I later learned the Communists think flowers are capitalistic.)
We then strolled through the fascinating old city before boarding our first class train car to Suzhou, the city of silk.
The train was so interesting with 2 seats facing each other with a small lace-covered table between us with a potted plant in the middle. There was carpet on the floor and overhead ceiling fans which made it very comfortable. We again enjoyed tea served by the stewardess.
Today in Suzhou we saw the silk spinning factory and embroidery factory and another garden. At the silk factory, they put the silk cocoons in very hot water and the women stand all day taking one thread from each cocoon and threading it on to a large spool to unwind the cocoon. It was 95 degrees in the factory and the women are required to work 12 hour shifts.
In the embroidery factory, teen girls do this incredibly detailed silk embroidery which they copy from oil paintings. They showed us eye exercises they did, but there were no older women there because it caused such eye strain.
Then we took a four-hour train ride to Nanjing. We had fun visiting on the train and getting to know each other better. There are twenty nurses total with four accompanied by their husbands. The new hotel where we are staying is very nice with an excellent dinner.
A Chinese band played traditional instruments. In honor of us Americans, they played Jingle Bells, Oh Susanna, and Elvis’ Love Me Tender. It seemed a little strange to hear Jingle Bells in June! Time for bed- my eyes are drooping.
Nanjing, June 4
It’s a sunny 80 degrees today which I thoroughly enjoyed. I slept well which gave me a little more energy. We started out by climbing up 392 steps to Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s tomb. Whew! I made it without too much trouble. The view of the rolling green hills was so beautiful.
I met a very friendly 87-year-old lady on the way down who held my hand as we had our photo taken together. She had just climbed all those steps also! (I later found out that Dr. Sun Yat Sen was a professing Christian who was the first president of China after deposing the last emperor in 1911. He is considered the “George Washington” of China.)
After visiting Ming tombs and drinking plum juice at the former summer home of Madame Chiang Kai-shek, we had lunch at the hotel and then toured a second pediatric hospital. It was much like the one in Shanghai except our nurse guides asked us more questions. Their nursing research department was very impressive!
We stopped for a few minutes at a tall drum tower where a class of 5-year-old children was also touring. They were so cute as they walked hand in hand through the tower!
Then we ate dinner and went to a variety show. It was lots of fun with a string quartet, singers, a kungfu demonstration, and a hilarious bird imitator. My eyes are closing fast.
I still receive Christmas cards from one of the couples who were on the tour and from the Nanjing nurse guide who later moved to the USA. I have visited her twice in North Carolina. I was thrilled to hear how she went back to college to receive her BSN and is doing very well working at a major university hospital. Her daughter has grown up and has also graduated from college. Two of the nurses on the tour married the following year and I was invited to both their weddings. It was quite amazing how quickly our tour group bonded!