One World, One Dream … this is Dr. Hanru Liu’s hope for TCVM in the world, to balance the East with the West, to integrate Chinese Medicine with Western Medicine.
Mid September, some 55 students and their guests embarked on a life-altering journey from the Western world to the heartland of China. After a lengthy flight, arrivals made their way through the bustle of the Beijing airport where they were met by a pick-up service. That night, the first taste of authentic Chinese cuisine was presented in a welcome dinner, which proved that the Americanized version of Chinese food that we have grown accustomed to is definitely not authentic.
On the first day, we visited the breathtaking Summer Palace, a vacation home of the Qing dynasty emperors and home of one of China’s most powerful and ruthless women of the 1800s, Empress Dowager Cixi. Enchanting the senses with amazing floral displays, delicate statues, and intricate architecture; this palace was truly a masterpiece of color, light, art and Feng Shui harmony. Concluding the first of many memorable historical tours was a relaxing boat ride across Lake Kunming.
Next we flew to the city of Chongqing, a major industrial center located aside the Long River, for the commencement of the 10th Annual TCVM Conference. After a full day of scholarly lectures, we eagerly went on a river cruise to marvel at the scintillating night lights of this grand city. The next day, we visited Beibei TCM Hospital and Herbal Pharmacy, a very large, immaculate and professional facility where we were treated to tongue/pulse diagnoses, acupuncture, and a foot or facial massage.
The following day we were given a break to visit one of China’s ancient treasures, the Dazhu Stone carvings. Simply beyond belief in sheer size, these limestone masterpieces of complex detail cannot but inspire anyone that gazes upon them. Depicting man’s journey from hell and turmoil to enlightenment, this World Cultural Heritage site combines Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhist teachings, and is a remarkable must-see site for anybody visiting China.
Thereafter, we resumed a full day of lectures given by the leading TCVM experts from veterinary schools representing Beijing, Southwest, Zhejiang, and Jilin Universities. Alone, the collective knowledge presented on the Liver/Wood element, the latest cutting-edge research on hepatic, immune, demodex diseases and their herbal treatments would have made this trip well worth the investment. Discussions also included the powerful effect of using food therapy very specifically to compliment and support acupuncture and herbs for dermatology, seizures, liver stagnation, and cancer. From camelids to dolphins, each speaker brought exciting and clinically relevant gifts to the conference. Zhen and Dr. Xie balanced out the days with tai-ji practice.
The next day, we flew to Xi’an to begin a whirlwind post-conference tour. We visited the Great Wild Goose Pagoda, which is no longer an active temple but are still grounds of Buddhist worship and statues of gold and jade. Some adventurous people climbed to the top of the pagoda and got a bird’s eye view of the City.
The next day, we visited the Shanxi Historical museum and then we were given the opportunity to tour the 8th World Wonder: the Terra Cotta Warriors. Over 2,200 years ago, the warriors were constructed to protect the mausoleum of unified China’s first Emperor, Qin Shi Huang Di. Each of the 6,000 excavated statues is distinctly unique, meticulously restored, and is a true testament to the awe inspiring dedication of the Chinese people and their attention to detail.
Then we were off to the Huaqing Hot Springs, where the day ended watching a spectacular Grand Dance show depicting the love story of Emperor Li and Lady Yang. The night air was filled with the calming aroma of delicate jasmine as dancers appeared to be walking on water, flying from the sky, and the entirety of Mt. Lishan provided a backdrop for a spectacular light show.
After several days of light activity the tour became more vigorous. With 5 peaks over 8,500 ft, Mt. Hua is one of several Taoist sacred mountains in China. The 3-hour hike up and down the mountain was both grueling and exhilarating as one surmounted steep stairs carved into granite. The peaks were shrouded in mist until you ascended above the clouds, where you found Buddhist temples to light incense and give prayer. You could also purchase a special lock engraved with the names of your loved one or family and hook it to a chain along the mountain to bring peace, happiness and good fortune.
Then to get the lactic acid out of our muscles, we walked around the Tang Dynasty Theme Park. Its expansive grounds housed art, architecture, waterfalls, animals, and historical dress up. Then we went bicycling around Xi’an city’s 9-mile long city wall. Built in the 1300's, the wall provided for a bumpy good time. To soothe our mountain and bicycle-battered bodies, Dr. Xie organized a lovely Tui-na foot and body massage. Dinner was hot pot style, where each person was provided a small pot of boiling liquid where they could add from an assortment of ingredients to make their own stew.
From here, the tour headed back to Beijing. We paid a visit to the enormous Tiananmen Square and haled Mao’s portrait. Then we breezed through the vast Forbidden City which contains a lucky number of rooms, 9,999. Built as a royal winter home in 1420, the city contains no trees as a preventative from fire or ambush on the residing emperor, and the roof tops are lined with water animals to ward off evil fire. The Forbidden City’s numerous paintings and magnificent architecture are truly spectacular. After the tour, we watched the Beijing Opera. Even though there may have been a language barrier, one could still understand the energy emanating from the costumes, music,
and lively actors.
The last trek of the tour was the Great Wall of China. We definitely saved the best for last. It is undeniably one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Constructed as early as 210 BC under the rule of Qin Shi Huang Di, endless walls zigzag through a sea of peaks and valleys. Dr. Xie told us there are 2 ways to see the Great Wall, from a space capsule in outer space or in person. We were fortunate to be able to visit this historic site and climb its stairs, as many have done before. The sweat, blood and life energy that went into building this remarkable feat is unquestionably a tribute to Chinese perseverance and fortitude. Later that evening and the next day, we went shopping on Silk Street where we had to wran
gle and wrestle with the shopkeepers … an unforgettable yang experience of bartering and haggling for the best price.
“Looking back over the two weeks, it was a very balanced experience of learning, sharing and enjoying the profound treasures of Chinese ancient culture. The philosophy, spirit, and celebration were punctuated by exquisite beauty, physical activity, and endless discovery. And I must add that every evening ended with a most welcome foot massage to relax us for a good night’s sleep in preparation for another wonderful day.” Dr. Leslie Griffith said.
“Understanding the origins of this ancient practice really brings full circle the art and science of TCVM and has aided me in becoming a more confident practitioner. I would definitely encourage others to participate in future TCVM conferences in China. “ Connie Clemons-Chevis said at the end of her travel log.
Honorable mention and gratitude to Dr. Carla Pasteur and her husband Tom who selected Dr. Leslie Griffith out of 11 applicants who applied for their donated scholarship of $3500.