For those of you who've read this previous post, you know that I have some Manchurian blood, courtesy to my mom. Manchuria occupies the Northeast provinces of China today, but actually, no one calls it Manchuria anymore except for me; I just have this romanticized version of my ancestry that I'd like to indulge in, TV Manchu princess ("gege") and all...
So imagine how excited I was when I learned that I had the opportunity to attend a meeting in Beijing followed by a conference in Harbin- the former the seat of the Qing dynasty founded by the Manchus (and of course still the capital today), and the latter the capital of today's Helongjiang province, heart of former Manchu land.
I'll tell you all about Beijing in the next post, but let me first tell you about our adventures in Harbin...
Well, while we did find some signs of its Manchurian history, it's mostly confined indoors in a museum, which is housed in a Russian orthodox church, the beautifully restored Saint Sophia Cathedral (this part of China borders Russia and thus has heavy Russian influence in many ways).
This is a photo of the Manchurian script, and below that is a picture of some fat, greedy, Manchu landowner, busting my romantic dream (well, I made up the greedy part, but don't they all look like they come out of the same mold?)
And this is the interior of the restored church aka museum, and either the light is really dim or I've seen way too many Chinese palaces these days, I was really intrigued and impressed by the restored architecture and the quality of the exhibit.
Back to the reason I was in Harbin in the first place, it was to attend a Chinese cardiology conference. Honestly I was pretty excited about seeing how these professional conferences are different here than the ones back home. Apart from the interesting mix of Chinese and Western medicines and a few mob scenes when free stuff was involved, things look fairly "normal"...
"When guidelines are followed, cardiac mortality is significantly reduced by 23%..."
(2 rows behind me in an aisle seat): Ghhaaaaaagh.... tu (imagine noise of loogie hitting carpeted floor)
"... duration of hospital stay is also improved..."
Ghhaaaaaagh.... tu... tu...... (more loogie hitting floor, me shifting in seat uncomfortably)
"... such is evidence that some Chinese are extraordinarily rude...." (ok, he didn't say that, but I might have if I were the speaker)
Gggg... gaaagghh... ghhaaaagh...... tu tu tu....
Why on earth are people here so phlegm-y?! And why can't they hold their phelgm for a few minutes??
I mean I can understand the air quality is bad and that people who smoke probably are extra mucus-y.... but presumably professional people doing it indoors when someone's giving a speech? This is probably one of the lowlights of me being a Chinese person *sigh*.
If China really wants to be recognized as a civilized world power, maybe the first order of business is Phelgm Control.
To end our Harbin trip on an up note though, here are some pictures of us visiting a Chinese style beer garden, enjoying a huge thing of local "Snowflake" beer while munching on a taro pie from next door's Chinese McDonald's (and no, they really don't have apple pie here).