Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Travel Only Got Harder

We left on a night train to Kunming, the hometown of Sherry Shi, one of our Chinese workers in the U.S. After an overnight train trip (12 hours), we arrived at about 6:30 a.m. and walked outside to find it very cold. Up to this time, the weather had actually been rather warm. It was nine degrees Celsius that morning in Kunming. We brought coats knowing that the weather will also be cold in Beijing when we get there. This was the first segment of our trip where the coats went on our backs instead of just hanging on our arms. They felt so good that it was worth worrying with them the previous week.

Sherry arranged for her cousin to meet us at a hotel that was not far from the train station. We had trouble locating that hotel and after asking people in several other hotels that did not know where we could find it, we finally got directions from a group of German tourists getting ready to board a bus.

We tried to get a room for the day at that particular hotel but none were available. We wanted to get a shower before meeting with the hospital personnel, so we went back up the street to a Super 8. They let us rent a room for a few hours but it was really bad. The carpet was molded from the shower water running into the small, crowded room. The shower was just open in the small toilet area with a drain in the floor. It was my first time to take a shower like that but I felt so grimy, it didn’t matter. The room looked like what I THINK a brothel would look like, but it served the purpose for us to clean up and change clothes to look fresh for the hospital visit.

A translator from the university came to help us for the day. He was a very nice young man and did an excellent job. After learning what we do in China, he refused to accept any pay. He cared for us the whole day and helped us to the train station that afternoon.

Sherry’s cousin is a doctor at one of the women and children’s hospitals owned by this private sector. She had a driver take us to the hospital who we needed to consult with regarding the next cleft palate medical mission. She was a very kind and sweet lady and very helpful to us. We appreciated her so very much. She took her time to do this for us and we are grateful.

After a meeting with the hospital officials, they invited us to a nearby hotel to have lunch. It was a very delicious meal, one of few we have had since we left home. We said our goodbyes and went to another location to meet two doctors (one from China and one from Singapore) who have an organization to do medical work for the poor in the Kunming area. We met them at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant and caught up on what they do and explained our work in China. They were able to give us some information about the area that may be helpful in deciding where we will do the next cleft palate mission.

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