Day 14 – A Sunny Sunday

Sunday morning. I obviously have been pretty tired by the Saturday excursion because I went through the IVs while mostly sleeping… The coffee makes me a bit more aware of the situation right after.

I got the Hyperbaric suite and I try to drown myself in water to make sure the headache; if it comes; will be light.

We asked the van/bus to pick us up at 10:00AM and there it was. Same truck it seems; different driver. The driver was also as smooth as the previous one. We have taken a serie of highways, freeways and no any small road; there is an exit right at the Juyongguan (Juyong Pass) Site of the Great Wall.

I haven’t made much kilometers on the freeways or city inner roads, but I have to say that the Beijing area traffic is smooth; drivers looks educated and respect regulations as far as I can tell. It is not Japan; but it is not what we often see in videos of crazy driving in China… I might just be lucky but I report what I see.

We arrived a bit before noon. Traffic was not heavy; a bit jammed at a pay toll. Strangely; there is an access to a freeway to Lhasa (Tibet) and the other side to Hohhot; Capital of the inner Mongolia autonomous region. I guess it goes further to the Mongolian town of Ulanbatar and perhaps further. It is funny to notice that the drivers (both of them until now) do not know what is at the end of the freeway; just that “it goes far in the North”…

The place is splendid. The sun is with us; but the pure mountain air and the stronger wind makes it sweet and warm. What a beautiful day.

I was able to stay on the plateform that is a junction of a descending path and of an ascending pass (I know; it is called in the middle). I watched the people leaving the stairs in front of me and I watch them getting smaller and smaller as they climb the “stairs” that lead to the top tower of the pass. I spot a well-fit guy with a very visible orange shirt and I followed him going up for more than 30 minutes. He did not make it to the top; turning back at about 70% of the full ascension. Perhaps he was late, or tired, or pissed… Or all at once; who knows…

Mikalina tried to go up but was back after the first fly of stairs. She described the steps as being sometimes higher than her knees height. We are now sure ancient Chinese Guards of the Great Wall had strong legs.

Tho I could not go round the place the view in itself was gorgeous. Many tourists; it was Sunday. I guess if all people would paint their country on a world map; a huge percentage would be covered. I distinguished Germans, Australians Sri Lankans and Egyptians who arbored their nationality on their gears. And many others; the anecdote is that the Russian patient I met at the hospital arrived; also in a Van/bus; as we were leaving the place.  I will also make a separate post for the Juyong Pass with most of the pictures we took.

Mr.Yang has been again very useful for this trip. We head back to Beijing and stopped by at a restaurant because we were pretty hungry. We found a nice place but it was on the second floor. Our driver talked to them and an army of waiters grab my chair; went up two fly of stairs to land me in the restaurant.

Great food again. The Goddam headache started again when we were on the road back; but I was thankful we made it up to there. The traffic was a bit heavier entering Beijing; but nothing serious, no any jam. Just a lot of cars bus. Very few construction trucks compared to Taiwan but they probably have different regulations for working hours traffic etc…

I again put myself in bed when we arrived and had an extra pain killer for the evening. I did not get an extra IV of Sodium Chloride this time. It was probably un-necessary.

I also started a rash in my back and my front arms; the nurses said they’ll ask the Doctor to see me first thing in the morning.

And I fell asleep again like a baby…


Day 13 – Temple of Heaven Re-Visited

Note: I posted earlier with a mistaken name of Summer Palace. My apologies….

Saturday morning; 6:30. I try to raise my head and it feels ok; I dont know for how long tho. Mikalina woke up; Mr.Yang arrived; cleaning Lady passed by and my favorite IVs freaks pointed their noses early: we mentioned everybody that we will re-visit the Temple of Heaven – hopefully – deeper today.

As PT rooms are close; I had the Super G-suite which massage feet and legs for an hour until 11:00. Then our Needle Geek (acupuncture Doctor) came too; seemingly happy to pierce here and there and even in the plain top of my head “for the headaches” as he said… All went just Ok; I felt something was wrong…

We ate, I tried to start sorting some pictures; as we were waiting 3:00PM to leave; a bit after the sun peaks in the sky. And … Boom! Headache… I had to ask to be put to rest an hour in my bed; took a pain killer and fell asleep almost right away…

At 3:10 I had an emergency; emptied the full length of my intestines and right away felt ways better. The headache was still there but I decided it will not bare us from seeing the Temple of Heaven which is now hanging like a challenge.

Mr.Yang pushed me all the way. He has been on that day a real charm, very willing to show me every corner, even considering carrying me up the stairs of the temple.

Kathy (the coordinator) also planned to meet us and we went four of us around this beautiful place; amazement from amazement in architecture, gardens, a pine trees liitle forest, a hallway in white marble.. But I’ll make a post separated when I have time.

It was about time we came back; around 6:30PM; my head started again to be pretty painful and again I was desperate to be be in good shape for the Sunday trip at the Great Wall.

To be sure to be in shape I went directly to bed; swallowed pain killers and lots of water and put my head to rest.

Fresh air and the sun put me into Morpheus Kingdom faster than I thought it would.

Day 7 – Sun and Conspiration

Sunday! I would prefer to not interrupt the treatment but since only my breakfast of IVs and the Anti-G suite for dwarfs’ legs we would have to spend our day doing nothing in the room… Shame… I somehow expected that so already Thursday I attacked to Doctor to ask the permission to leave the premises of the hospital to wander a bit further to thr center of Beijing. She said yes without much hesitation but warned me not to catch cold, be careful yak and yak yoddi yoddi…

Kathy and Mikalina become good  friends – there is only few years difference – and we included her in our conspiration against the gang of nurses in the mirador dominating the entrance of the ward armed to the teeth with thermometers, blood pressure gauges, syringes and clysters of all sorts and sizes…
Kathy, then, ordered the van for us with the idea of viewing as much as we could without running starting by the Summer Palace, then the TiananMen Square and if possible a bit of the forbidden city.
We almost did all…

The Van/Bus could take 8 persons plus the wheelchair so we invited the caregiver to join us but… “Too hot too far too dangerous too…” so rather than giving him the piece of mind that was ready for him I just let him do whatever he see fits his personality and he said he’ll wait for us in the room 😀 Ok; never mind…

Mikalina had set a good plan; it would have succeed. Few things we did not know. 1) the driver knew how to get to the Summer Palace but obviously did not know that it was not wheelchair accessible… We had to walk to another entrance at about 10′ from there.  he dropped us at 11:15 and would pick us at the same place at 13:30. It means we have already 30′ lost because of that and the queues of peoples at both ticketing booths. I was obliged to stay in the sun as there wasn’t a half square meter of shadow in sight; except on the terrasse which is – you guess – not accessible by wheelchairs.

Finally tickets in hands we visited the Summer Palace and I will make a separate post about it. Fantastic, grandissime, huge as in “very huge” and beautiful. I really wonder sometimes about that… We were told one needs 6 hours to see the whole Palace but I honestly believe no one can make it all in less than 2 full days…
At 13:30 Mr.Gao waited us and we get back in the bus thanking the Benz company to have provided this model with air conditioner…
To Tiennanmen Square!

As I trusted the Girls for the itinerary I haven’t checked the map but in fact the farer point from PuHa Hospital Tiantan (South) is the Summer Palace (North-West). And Summer Palace to Tiannanmen Square is 75% back to the start but by the Center-East. My first Beijing traffic jam in Beijing… When a 6 ways’ lane bottle neck in two-lanes exit which open on a 4 ways lane which bottle-neck to an exit of 1 car… And; of course, the sempiternal and planted by all traffic bureau of the world I have seen: the traffic light!

Our very smooth and skillful driver dropped us in a kind of adjacent lane/parking because no car is allowed around the Tiennanmen Square. There the toughest part (for Mikaina) started as she was decided to find an underground passage to the Square but whether there are none or we could not find one… Booths of whatever and bystanders seems to not know that you get down the stairs with a wheelchair with great difficulties and that it often result in a trip to the closest hospital unless you are accompanied by a family of gorillas. Mikalina has shown to have their stubbornness and will but still lack the power; she trade it for a Princess-like appearance…

We were there.  We could not say we see it but cannot say we didn’t. It was 6 lanes across… Not too many cars but it is very big and very far; many buildings on the Square turn their back to the Avenue, and to us just across…
An old merchant of I-dunno-what (fake second-hand teeth maybe) told Mikalina that there was a leveled passage with a traffic light if we circle the places/lanes around the Square to the West… He still probably laughing now…

The places around; actually holds a lot of shops, souvenirs, restaurants, hotels, official buildings, museums, KFC, MacDonald; a tramway that goes nobody knows where but that is “ding ding’ ing” around all the time. Shopping alleys, Beijing Cuisine… Name it -> It is there!

As for the Forbidden City it is even more tricky. The visitors can only get through by the South door which is only accessible from an underground passage between there and the Tiannanmen Square under Chang’An road… Furthermore; only entrance is permitted there and close at about 16:00. You then have to go to the closest exit hopefully accessible by wheelchair and return back to the surrounding at least 1.5km away if you want to shop a bit souvenirs or hit a restaurant to feast on the “Beijing Duck” (or whatever suite you; all restaurants seems to have an extended menu but not all have wheelchair access).
Hahahaha the good joke… I red from the website “Wheel Chair Travel” that it was feasible to make it from Tiannamen Square to Forbidden City, but they never said which chopper land them on Tiannanmen Square 😛

After so much efforts; Mikalina was very frustrated and tired; I could see it in her tearful eyes. We have been all day in a torrid sun – Our caregiver who would have been of great help to Mikalina at least – I got a darn great sunburn – and we failed at 50 meters due to Policies restrictions. (there are leveled passages for pedestrians but they are forbidden and locked since June 1989…

It was 16:00 roughly; tanned by the sun, tired by the journey and the frustration; we decided to bury our sadness under a mountain of food and refreshments in the first good-looking-restaurant-with-an-access-to-wheelchair. Quickly done; 50 meters from where we had our brainstorm.

I am not a fan and rarely goes to “Tourists Spots” Restaurants/shops/whatever but we had no much energy left and the chosen pray to foment our vengeance was in fact pretty far from the crowd. Nevertheless; it was a middle-sized restaurant, with a sell-everything booth at the entrance and the majority of tables can agreement 6 to 8 peoples or even large round tables of 15. We chose a convenient spot on a small table of 6 (8 if you fill the ends) and asked a menu.

Everybody was very friendly; the Lady (pretty girl by the way) who attend our table took the patience to clearly explain the plates we were interested in and honestly suggesting the quantities for two persons.
Mikalina ordered the Beijing Duck as it was one of her wishes being here, along with a dish of tofu in a flat-noodles shape. I am not a bird meat fan (chicken doesn’t eat other chicken, whatever their disguise) thus I chose beef tenderloin in a spicy sauce with a large bowl of spinaches.
My audience: it was very good and the portions very generous; we honestly paid a very democratic price and our gentle hostess packed a good quantity of left over as it is custom in Asia. As we do not have the mobile SIM Card; she used her own mobile; making the number in order to contact our driver Mr.Gao to pick us on that very front of the restaurant. He probably spent his afternoon close by and slept in his truck; as can witness the arrangement of tehe back seats when we got in.

As I suspected; our way back from there took about 25 minutes only before we were in the lobby of the PuHua Hospital again.

We were in the room at about 18:30; mr.Yang our caregiver was surprised in the sofa watching TV (nothing wrong IMO) and he spent the rest of the evening cursing the “too hot day that I got a giant sunburn” and “the too long trip that Mikalina looked so tired” and that he tried to make us speak but we kept him guessing for a long while… Absents are always wrong :p

We are on a tight budget so there were no souvenirs beside the photos; I’ll make galleries later” and the official pamphlets at 75c (6RMB).

Nurses were astonished by my “ability to get red in the sun” and laugh at me – Fair enough…


Back for more….

Walk to Temple of Heaven

Day 6 – Saturday and Closer to Heaven

Tiantan; the area where the hospital is located; means Temple of Heaven. After looking at the Google map of the area we knew we were close to Tiantan Park and the said Temple.

Saturday and Sunday; the PT room is close for machines cleaning, maintenance etc… I suppose some can also rest as I swear this is a hard job to do from 08:30 to 17:30 – Very Physical.

Thus we had the good ol’IVs in their plastic pints and suddenly all seems empty.. As an alternative I had hyperbaric treatment. It is not a kind of couffin where I could lay down and rest but…

I’ll try to describe. They fit a kind of inflatable suit on your legs ankle feet (each side separated with 4 cushions) and it inflate; deflate sequentially and alternatively roughly 3 times a minute.. Pretty strange sensation and due to the very bad shape of those parts in my body it was actually painful (I could not stand it on my right foot). It stays an hour and it seems like forever as you have to lay down.

But it finishes and as I’m not the kind to go back from adventure; I suggested we try a walk to the close Temple of Heaven.

First “Clash” with the caregiver: “too hot sunshine too far too dangerous too…”. Mmmhh.. Ok; I let him know he can get an extended lunch since afternoon was free of activities. It is the first (and maybe the last) time I see Beijing I will see as much as I possibly can of it.

We then pretend to the nurses we’d like to eat something outside (tough job but she finally believe ~or~ gave up) and out the gates we are… Mikalina must have that envy to see or experience things like me because we were accomplice in that ignominious crime of disobedience with the “well-thought-for-you-system” that characterize pretty well the beautiful country we are journeying in.

On the road (about 20 minutes pushing a wheelchair in the sununder the trees) the avenue is quiet; very few peoples, some bicycles, mopped, taxi-cabs and other vehicles I’d hardly describe but that fits in a cyclist-only lane. Beautiful trees border it and the road outside is not busy, there are cars; but nothing like I have seen on the TV about Beijing. But I haven’t seen much, so I can’t really say; just describing as honestly as I can.

There we arrived. It is big; huge. I will try to upload some pictures but it seems going  for as long as the eyes can see. It looks really nice and well maintained. Unfortunately; we tricked the nurses for a lunch and as this is a “trial escape” we don’t want them to get suspicious. Therefore; we slowly retreat to the safe environment of the PuHua North Ward Room 17.

A bit later; our guardian came back and no one noticed. We bragged of course; letting him understand he’s chicken when a 20 years old girl can make what he said was “foolish”.

I rest my case but I believe he will have to adapt or spend his duty time alone sleeping in the room…


More later….


D-Day, Let’s Go!

July 3rd Airport Taoyuan

The 3rd of July it is. “THE”Day. As we booked an early flight in order to arrive on the first day as early as we could; we had to wake up accordingly.

We arrive at the Taoyuan Int’l Airport a bit before 7:00AM. We utilized the usual Van Service which was on time. The Airport personnel was aware of our arrival and waited to help use registering and weighting the luggages. I flew in the past with China Airlines; the “real Taiwan Airlines” and always have praised their services but this time was really Premium! I can not tell how much good care they took of me and my Daughter Mikalina who accompany me for this adventure. Wheelchair from the counter to the plane’s seat. Since we arrived first they had plenty of time to accommodate us with all we needed.

The flight was hyper-smooth. At this time of the day most voyagers continue their sleep during the 2:45 hours of the trip from Taiwan to Beijing and all is quiet and comfortable. Both of us were too excited to sleep tho and we watched a movie; listen to radio or read some e-book on our phone. The seats in the plane are a bit tight for me but for 3 hours it is not of major concern. The Economy Class of a 747-400 as they all are.

At arrival; the same care awaited us and we were taken from the airplane seat to the exit door by the airline/airport services where my own wheelchair waited, extracted from the cargo along with our luggages. The airport of Beijing is huge and between the terminal and the luggage kiosk there is a ~5 minutes ride in a transit system (on tyres by Siemens for the curious).

At Taoyuan departure as well as at Beijing Arrival; we were passed throughout the “Diplomatic Doors and Checking” so all those procedures were very fast and without any bump.

Temperature was of 28ºC in Beijing. No blue sky, a kind of ‘low ceiling’ but I can not determine if it was haze or pollution. The Coordinator of PuHua Hospital (Kathy) was waiting for us as promised. We got to the bus where I had some difficulties because I suppose the fact that I even cannot stand was forgotten and it has been necessary to haul me in the back seat. The driver was skillful but not particularly strong so it has been a bit hard. But well, small issue. Ride was less than an hour, we arrived about noon at Tiantan Road; PuHua Hospital. I was unloaded from the van by a much more trained man and we were directly lead to the room.

Kathy left us for an hour to rest and cool down; wash a bit and take refreshments. Around 3:00PM; we have been introduced to some personnel; nurses and care givers, some administrative talks and papers. After that; the Doctor saw me for a brief talk, just the premises and a general layout of what was gonna happen to me.

I have been seen by 3 neurologists, 2 chiropractors, 1 TCM Doctor and I got my first acupuncture treatment: needles in the arms, legs and belly.

It quickly arrived time to eat dinner and Kathy helped Mikalina (my Daughter) to find a very close food stand where she bought us each pork noodles and we feast on it. We could connect directly to the public wifi of the hospital but in PRC China all communications like Facebook; Google, Line are banned so we had to reset many communication channels before being able to connect. But I will try to make a separate post about connecting and computers.

Emptying luggages; re-insuring friends and family and we were ready for the start of the whole stuff: Day +1 – Next time…