For a city where it never snows, I’ve seen pretty much snow already. Today is the third day with some proper snow, but it is not as much as before. So, on this snowy day I went to the exit-entry administration Bureau to retrieve my passport with the extended visa. First you pay, than you get your passport. Like everywhere in China, this has to be done at separate counters, and the queue lines for the payment counters where enormous! 4 counters, 4 long queues. I have to say they were pretty efficient, since I got everything done within 10 minutes! For my working visa/residence permit I need a physical exam; I will be facing this adventure within 2 weeks from now.
Today was an adventure by itself. Because the pain in my neck/shoulder/arm was turning really bad again after not being treated for over a months, I decided to go to the hospital to get some proper traditional Chinese help. Yes, the hospital, that’s normal here, all the experts are there. You have massage places all around town, but nothing (as far as I know) like a physical therapist office or anything. I went to the Shiguang hospital near Times Square (we have one too). After entering the wrong building first, I arrived at the reception and registration area. My English wasn’t received well, so I just pointed at my shoulder and said “au”. They got me a hospital card and a number and pointed me to the registration desk. Language barrier? Mwah, no problem here.
At the registration desk I only had to fill in my name (which they interpreted as WIUEMGN) and my age and pay around 2 euros and then I got another piece of paper. Ok, now what? So I went back to the reception desk and looked at her with a questionmark face and asked where I should go now. She made several phone calls (no idea if they were all about me, I noticed it’s normal for them to do other things in between as well) and in the end someone walked me to another building and took me to a nice looking department. I’ve read several things about either no privacy whatsoever or long waiting times or on the other hand a place for foreigners with more privacy and convenience for which you paid a lot extra. I wasn’t sure which way this one would go, but ah well; I was here now, let’s see how it turns out.
A lovely lady who spoke a few words in English brought me to a room where they had 2 examination rooms and a few chairs which made the waiting room. After not so long, about 10-15 minutes, it was my turn. The doctor spoke pretty decent English, so that was convenient. Of course we got interrupted a few times by the woman he helped before me, she just walked in and started talking, but that’s something you have to take for granted here I think. I shortly told him what was going on and already said that scans were not necessary because they were done back home. Well, of course that was a white lie, but I already heard they always want to make X-rays and sometimes even CT scans, which you of course have to pay for but are often not necessary. He was persistent in that I needed it for him to be able to help me since the treatment included neck manipulation and he needed to know for sure where everything was located. After I told him I was a poor student and not a rich white girl, I got what I wanted: hands-on help.
Tui na, that’s what I got. It’s a Chinese massage including friction techniques, the latter especially on the neck. All clothes stayed on, he did everything through two layers of fabric! It isn’t like the massage we’re used to, it is more an almost rhythmic way of giving pressure to the muscles. At some points it felt really nice, at some moments (well, most) it was painful. Even though I was wearing a sweater, he was still able to find the little painful places and went all for them. The amount of pressure and the speed of the rhythm must make this really tiring for the one doing it I suppose, but he just went on. There were a lot of painful places in my neck and after some manipulation (I felt everything cracking!) it did feel a bit better. At the end he patted me on the back several times, pretty hard actually. If I just had eaten something, I probably burped.
The visit to the hospital didn’t take more than an hour, including treatment, so I think I did really well. I think I also paid local rate, since the treatment cost about 14 euro, so it wasn’t that bad. I do want to try acupuncture as well, so that will probably take me back to the hospital again. At least I can use my hospital card now to show I want to go to that department (now I was sent to traumatology), so I think it would be ok. Or I’ll just try emailing them first to see if I can make an appointment (or let someone call). The massage salons are also something to try; they offer pretty long massages for the same price I paid in the hospital. For not even twice as much you get a Traditional Chinese Medicine massage of 90 minutes (at least at the salon close to the dance school), so I definitely want to try that one, or just a simple body massage. Let’s find out what works!
Wandering around the neighborhood with a somewhat sore neck, I ended up in the Marks & Spencer. Was a bit disappointed that they had several crisps, but not a sea salt & vinegar version! Too bad, that’s my favorite and impossible to find in the Chinese supermarkets. Because I thought I deserved some western food, I went to the café there and ordered some Chai tea latte and fish & chips. I had to separately ask for vinegar when my food arrived, guess they don’t have many English eating fish & chips over here. Well, I get why. But overall it was nice; it was a good place to relax before having to go to the dance school to prepare for my very first Zouk workshop here tomorrow.
I guess I like fusion: Dutch girl getting a Chinese massage, followed by some English fish & chips before going to prepare a workshop Brazilian Zouk with the Chinese salsa teacher. Only in Shanghai!