2004.01.27 Beijing, China

Moxibustion Man

Been laying low in Beijing, passing the time. I think I'll leave the capital after re-newing my visa. I'd been hoping my admission to Kashgar Teachers' College might be processed quickly enough that I'd only have to fiddle with my status once. Guess I'm still holding on to the remote possibility that the paperwork can go through in the twelve remaining days I have on this entry. That's a bit doubtful given Chinese Spring Festival isn't entirely over, followed by a Uighur holiday which will further delay anything administrative.

I feel comfortable seeing myself as living in this country rather than passing through on holiday. Of course that may well change once I leave the padded existence I have here in Beijing. Kashgar is remote, much smaller, and--while international--,far less cosmopolitan. Still, I'm at ease being in China, away from the life I left in America.

A few days ago I went for my first massage since I was in Kashgar. Surely not as inexpensive out here, but nothing compared to the cost in the US. Tried something new this time: moxibustion. I'd been feeling some pain in my lower back, which I'd attributed to moving out of my apartment in Seattle. Traditional Chinese medicine has different perceptions of what causes illness and pain. I'm often told that my symptoms are related to an imbalance of heat and cold. This extends even to muscle pain and vomiting, symptoms which would surely be understood as due to strain and food poisoning in the West.

The moxibustion treatment was carried out with twelve glass jars placed around either side of my spine. (The thirteenth small red mark in the photo is the scar from the sandbag in Kashgar I refer to in a previous entry.) Each jar was placed above my skin with a match ignited inside. After the match burnt out the jar was lowered, adhering to my body with the vacuum of the oxygen void. They stayed on for fifteen minutes, to suck out the cold air causing my pain.

I'm really not sure about the result. I do feel a little bit better, but don't know to what exactly to attribute that. Perhaps the treatment works as understood here. Placebo? Would I have felt better with a bit of time anyway?

Summer Palace 2004.01.26
Went the other day to the lantern festival at the Imperial Summer Palace. Traditional performances, such as the lion dance, were the attraction. It's still strange being back in Beijing with the mix of familiar and new. I remembered the palace grounds fairly well, bringing me back to my visit eight and a half years ago. Day-to-day existence is a completely different world, with Internet access and Domino's Pizza available, should I choose.

Joyce has been spending these days at her parents' place: I asked for some solitary time to assess my next steps. When exactly am I going to leave Beijing? Do I return to Kashgar directly, or take some time elsewhere before my studies begin? Do I even have enough room in my bags to schlep all my stuff to Kashgar? Time to update this travelogue also seemed necessary.