This arti­cle is part 8 of 10 in the series Beijing Acupuncture

The next two days were spent in a whirl­wind of tours, the sec­ond day being spent get­ting to and explor­ing a sec­tion of the Great Wall.  What an expe­ri­ence!  This is a man-made fea­ture that can be seen from space.

I would have loved to have seen the Three Gorges Dam, but it was too far from Beijing. 

The first day found us stay­ing in Beijing itself where we got to see the Lugou Bridge, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City.

Arriving back at the hotel on the evening of the first day, I approached the concierge and asked if she could arrange for me to get an acupunc­ture treat­ment at the Beijing Hospital.  I explained that I had been suf­fer­ing from neck and shoul­der pain and that I had been told that the Beijing Hospital was renowned for teach­ing and treat­ing with acupunc­ture.  Since our group was sched­uled to vis­it the Great Wall the next day, I sug­gest­ed that I did­n’t want to miss that part of the trip, but would like to get to the hos­pi­tal the fol­low­ing day — the day that Yeung would be there.  I also told her that a morn­ing appoint­ment would work best as that would allow me to re-join my group for its after­noon sched­ule.  I knew from the infor­ma­tion that L.T. had pro­vid­ed that Yeung always took treat­ments that last­ed most of the morning.

She oblig­ing­ly con­sent­ed to see if she could arrange an appoint­ment and would leave a mes­sage on my room phone.

I returned to my room, show­ered again, and changed clothes for din­ner.  A knock on the room door came as I was fin­ish­ing my toi­lette.  Puzzled as to who might be call­ing at my room, I opened the door to see the two ladies with whom I had dined at the Seattle airport.

“Mr. Tallent,” one effused.  “We were just going to din­ner at the Oodle Restaurant and were won­der­ing if you would care to join us.”

“Well,” I replied, “I was just about to go in search of a place for din­ner and I’m sure such charm­ing com­pa­ny would make the meal so much more pleasant.”

They gig­gled light­ly in uni­son as I pulled the door closed behind me and joined them in a walk to the elevator.

The Oodle Restaurant in the hotel is a lav­ish­ly attired eat­ing estab­lish­ment serv­ing a wide vari­ety of tra­di­tion­al food, and the din­ner passed in mean­ing­less con­ver­sa­tion and lus­cious food, accom­pa­nied by and fol­lowed with a glass of plum wine.

By the end of the meal we had become “Michael,” “Louise,” and “Maggie” and — I admit — I had sel­dom had as good com­pan­ion­ship on any oth­er assignment.

Both ladies were from Plymouth, Indiana, and had dri­ven togeth­er from there to Chicago to catch the flight.  Maggie had lost her hus­band to pan­cre­at­ic can­cer about eight months pre­vi­ous­ly and had been con­vinced by Louise to go on the tour.  Louise was hap­pi­ly mar­ried with one daugh­ter in col­lege.  Her hus­band, a junior col­lege pro­fes­sor, was unable to get away for the trip but had encour­aged her to go any­way.  Both were delight­ful to be with and took my mind briefly from the seri­ous busi­ness that brought me so far from home.

As we left the restau­rant, I begged leave from the ladies explain­ing that I need­ed to check on an arrange­ment for two days hence, thanked them for a love­ly evening and said that I would undoubt­ed­ly see them tomor­row when we vis­it­ed the Great Wall.

I walked to the concierge desk. I said that I thought I’d check while I was down and see if she had had any success.

I’m not quite sure what Plan B would have been had she said no luck, but for­tune was on my side and I had an appoint­ment for 0930 in two days. She gave me the address and the per­son to whom I would be report­ing.  She also informed me that she had request­ed an English-speak­ing tech­ni­cian and that many of the staff speak English so I should not have much dif­fi­cul­ty while there.  Chinese efficiency!

The next day was a some­what tir­ing but full day as we vis­it­ed and walked a good deal of the Great Wall.  One can­not help be amazed at the man­pow­er that must have been expend­ed in cre­at­ing this vast net­work, espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing that it was con­struct­ed some twen­ty-three hun­dred years ago.

It fol­lows the con­tour of the land, ris­ing and falling with the hills and climb­ing many of its sec­tions proved too much for some of the tour group.  It can be an exhaust­ing endeav­or and our tour bus dropped off a group of weary trav­el­ers as the sec­ond day came to a close.

I guess Louise and Maggie prob­a­bly thought it would be a bit improp­er to come knock­ing on my door again for the sec­ond straight day, so I wan­dered from the hotel that evening to see what sort of din­ing might await out on the street.

It seems strange that, about a block-and-a-half from the hotel, I found a restau­rant serv­ing Italian fare.

I had hard­ly been seat­ed when Rasmussen came through the front door of the restau­rant.  He seemed not to notice me at first, but then I caught his eye and he waved a famil­iar greet­ing and walked over to my table.

“Mr. Tallent,” he exclaimed.  “I guess we had the same idea about get­ting out a bit to find some­place to eat.  Do you mind if I join you or would you pre­fer to eat alone?”

“By all means, have a seat.  But if we’re going to be din­ing part­ners, you’ll have to call me Michael.”

“Of course, Michael.  Harold,” he said, extend­ing his hand.

My meal includ­ed veal parme­san, pinot noir, and small talk. But the com­pa­ny was wel­come and I learned a good deal more about him than he about me.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.

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