This is a medical school where they also treat patients. One of the professors came in and gave us a brief overview lecture about some of the major differences between Western medicine and Chinese medicine, both in diagnosis and treatment. During that lecture, those who wanted to participate were soaking their feet in herbal waters. Following the lecture, some of the students came in and did a reflexology treatment on the feet that had been soaked. Along with the reflexology, those who wanted could speak with a doctor, who would demonstrate the diagnostic differences and would offer treatment options. I took advantage of speaking with the doctor. Without going into my medical history, I have some conditions which have been diagnosed, requiring some minimally invasive procedures for the diagnosis, and which Western medicine offers no treatment.
When the doctor came to me, he looked at my eyes and hands, had me show him my tongue and the inside of my mouth, and asked me a few basic questions, such as my age. His first diagnosis was my reflux, which could have just been a good guess, given my size. His next diagnosis was one for which Western doctors needed labs to even initially suspect and an ultrasound to confirm. It's also one that Western medicine offers no treatment. (Trust me - I've asked multiple physicians in multiple related specialties in multiple locations.) Because this particular condition is believed to impact my ability to maintain or lose weight and also makes it more difficult to treat some of my other conditions, I have spent considerable amounts of money on multiple "remedies" with little to no empirical support in hopes that something will work. This doctor diagnosed from a brief, external, fully clothed exam what took Western doctors lab tests to even suspect and an ultrasound to confirm. It's not a terribly common condition, and until that exam, I was under the impression that I had no visible signs of it. He said that a 6-month period of taking some herbal medicines that would not interfere with my regular medicines and soaking my feet for 10 minutes each night in warm water should cure the condition. He suggested that I only start when I am going to be home for a while so that I'm more likely to be consistent in treatment. Therefore, I have only now started. When the treatment is over I'll let you know if it works. To put anyone's mind at rest, I will remain under the watchful care of my Western doctors during this period. We'll see how it goes.
After leaving the Herbal Institute, we headed to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, which were initially on our schedule for day 1, but they were closed that day. Fei-Fei gave us some information about the history surrounding Tianenmen Square, both before and after Chairman Mao and the formation of the People's Republic of China. She did, however, tell us that she could not tell us where the 1989 incident occurred, nor could she confirm that an incident even did occur in 1989 or that tanks had ever been on the square other than for parades. Tiananmen Square is quite sizable, and the walk to the Forbidden City is quite long, so we didn't spend much time exploring the square. On our way to the Forbidden City, we passed by the Mausoleum of Chairman Mao Zedong and the Monument to the People's Heroes.
Again, the pollution was terrible. This was virtually right in front of us. When we got close to the Gate of Heavenly Peace, we stopped and waited for Fei-Fei to get our tickets. That huge monstrosity in the foreground is security cameras.
The Forbidden city gets its name because it was Forbidden for anyone to enter without the Emperor's permission. Over the centuries, the Forbidden City housed 24 different emperors, being constructed during the Ming Dynasty. At the entrance, there is an outer courtyard that is far from the next gate. In fact, I had to stop the group at least once, and potentially twice because I simply could not keep up and breathe at the same time. As you keep going, each gate get more ornate...
until you finally reach the inner sanctum
Once inside the the inner palace grounds, the similarities between the ancient Chinese and the Mayans (and probably other ancient civilizations). Just like the Mayans, the ancient Chinese also cleared all greenery from their palatial grounds. In the case of the Chinese, the emperors were afraid someone may hide behind a tree to kill them. I'm not aware of the reasoning by the Mayans. There is also the carvings on the external pathways of the creatures for protection and other reasons as well as the requirement that certain structures could only be used for one purpose. Here are some shots of the ceremonial halls of the Forbidden City.
This consisted primarily of a long corridor with gates on either side leading to various parts of the quarters. We went into the homes of the concubines, which had a courtyard in the center. The room in the rear has been converted to a shop, but the areas on either side are preserved, and you can look inside behind glass to see how they were during part of the emperors' rule.
Upon leaving the concubines' quarters, we went to the gardens. In China, gardens must be in harmony between nature and humanity with three elements: Stone or mountains, water, and flowers or trees. This was not one of the more memorable gardens we saw on our visit to China, but it did have an abundance of blocking stones in this garden, and there were a few of them spaced individually throughout the grounds.
According to Wikipedia and other sources, there was a lot to the Forbidden City we were not shown, such as a mote and turrets and various other things. At some point, I may want to return, but I'll need to be able to cover much more ground and breathe better before trying it again.
After leaving the Forbidden City, we went back to the Beijing airport, where Po and his gang (from Kung-Fu Panda) got us safely to Shanghai. We then caught a bus to our next destination, Suzhou.