Day Eight: Zhangjiagang

As I write this we are driving from Zhangjiagang to Nanjing, where we will have a tour in the morning and afternoon presentations tomorrow. Because I was traveling here for two weeks, I bought the 800MB data plan (with reduced cost for voice calls), and while I’m over half done with the trip I have only used about 12oMB. So I might as well write now instead of waiting for the hotel wifi.

Stephanie and NBA FinalsYesterday I started by watching the first half of Game 7 of the NBA Finals in my hotel room, but we had to leave for our morning discussion and tour with about 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter. Thankfully our interpreter, Stephanie, had a more economical data plan and let me watch the game on her phone during our 15-minute ride to the hospital.

Walking Tour of HospitalWe had an excellent discussion at The First People’s Hospital of Zhangjiagang with leaders from the various specialties, as well as some younger doctors and nurses. Then we had a 30-minute tour of the facilities, including the telemedicine capabilities they use for about three cases per day currently.

At the end of the tour, we had the customary group photo with the hospital leaders:

First People Hospital Leaders

The man on the far right’s English name is Gordon, who studied for one year at Cleveland Clinic and therefore became a Cavaliers fan. At dinner the evening before we had talked about the Warriors-Cavs matchup and he asked if I wanted to bet on the outcome. During our group discussion I had gotten text updates from my son Joe on the progress of the game, so I told Gordon I was glad to not have accepted his challenge.

After a brief rest at the hotel, during which time Kent was reunited with his suitcases which had missed our flight from Beijing, we headed back for the 2 p.m. lectures. I believe this was the largest crowd of the tour so far (about 400 people), because it included representatives from 30 other regional hospitals, as well as 200 people from our host organization.


After our presentation, we had the customary gift exchange, and both the hospital president and the audience were pleased at the thought of receiving a pen made from wood that had its origins in a seedling once held by Dr. Charlie Mayo:

Gift Exchange

This was the fifth of our nine sessions, and a week from now I should be sleeping in my bed at home. It’s been a great adventure and I’m thankful for the opportunity.

Day Seven: The Great Wall and a Great River

We left Chengde early on Father’s Day, June 19, to go to the airport in Beijing for our flight to Nantong. On the way to the airport, we visited The Great Wall at Jinshanling, which was spectacular.

We took the tram most of the way to the peak (the hike would have taken about two hours) and then began our ascent to the Wall. It was interesting that we felt compelled to take pictures along the way because the sight was so amazing, even though we knew it would be even better when we got to the top.

Here’s just one sampler. I’ll put more on Facebook later:

Lee at Great Wall

Update: After our Great Wall adventure, we had lunch at the Chinese equivalent of a country diner, with President Xi and his wife looking on:

Dinner with the President

Then we rushed to the Beijing airport for the nearly two-hour flight to Nantong. Then it was 90-minute drive to our next city, which included my very first ferry ride, on the Yangtze River, the the third-longest river in the world. It’s also plenty wide.

Yangtze river ferry

Day Six: Chengde City

Hospital in ChengdeOur Saturday morning presentation was at Affiliated Hospital of Chengde Medical University, which is about 200 km northeast of Beijing. This was another very new facility, less than a year old. And because it was a Saturday morning, we had representatives from other area hospitals in the crowd of about 300.


I will update this post later with some additional commentary and stories, but now we’re off to The Great Wall.

Day Five: Travel to Chengde

We departed Beijing after spending the morning watching Game 6 of the NBA Finals on CCTV and having lunch at another local restaurant. Each of China’s 34 provinces has distinct culinary offerings, and as the capital city Beijing has restaurants that reflect these unique menus.

Picture requestI’ve had several Chinese people come up to me and want to take a picture with me, and that happened again as we left our hotel in Beijing. I’ve decided that from now on I want to reciprocate and ask them to use my camera, too. I don’t know whether it’s being American, or tall, or some combination, but I suppose most Chinese people don’t see someone who looks like me very frequently.

Road to ChengdeThe drive to Chengde was beautiful, with mountainous terrain. We arrived about 5 p.m. at our hotel for the next two nights, Jiahe International Hotel.

This morning’s post is a short one because our lecture this time is at 9 a.m. instead of afternoon. Later we’ll tour the hospital and take a tour of the Summer Palace.

Day Four: China-Japan Friendship Hospital

China-Japan Exterior

AuditoriumOur final day in Beijing took us to China-Japan Friendship Hospital, where we had the largest audience so far. Our hosts had invited colleagues from some other hospitals to join, and the large auditorium was fairly full.

Before the lectures, we had the opportunity to walk through the hospital’s garden courtyard, which we were told is the only one of its kind among the hospitals in Beijing. It reminded me of several places on our various Mayo Clinic campuses.

Garden Courtyard

We also met with the hospital leaders and had a good discussion, in the hospital’s newly renovated and restored boardroom, and then did the traditional exchange of gifts.

MeetingGift Exchange

Then it was on to the presentations and an extended Q&A session, facilitated by our excellent interpreters, Natalia (left) and Stephanie (right):


As I mentioned previously, Kent’s book has sold more than 350,000 copies in China. After the program the book-signing line extended across the front of the auditorium:

Book-signing lineup

At our traditional formal dinner, Stephanie encouraged me to try a dish which she said was quite tasty, but that I would not want to eat if I knew what it was:


It was in fact good (especially with cream and honey), but then I asked her to tell me what it was:

While Stephanie will be continuing as an interpreter for a couple additional stops, this was Natalia’s last day with us. Friday is a travel day, and another interpreter will join us in Chengde.

Many people have contributed to make this tour possible, but without our interpreters it would be very close to meaningless. So we said goodbye to Natalia with our thanks for her good work: