Sunday, November 29, 2009

Marine Ball 2009

On Saturday, November 21st I flew down to Beijing to go to the annual Marine Ball with some friends at the Embassy. It's a really fun party, and it was held in a ballroom at the China World Hotel. Before the ball started, we went to a friend's house for champagne and pictures. We all got corsages, so it was just like prom!

Me and Angela in front of the Christmas tree:


Blurry shot of the Marines:
We got a little bored during all the speeches -


Another Marine shot -


Finally, we start dancing!



I love this picture. I don't even know who this person is, but he's in a uniform and stealing the roses.


Feet are tired. Ready to go home.
Best part of the whole night: delivery McDonalds. YES.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wintery Shenyang

It's only November 24th, and it's already snowed three times this year! This is my desolate-looking flower market. I just went to the Marine Ball in Beijing this weekend, so I'll post pics soon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Obama Comes to Shenyang!

umm...yeah right. I don't think Obama is getting anywhere near this city. But I did meet some lovely women on the way home from work a few weeks ago. My coworker bought dinner from their food stand and they got a huge kick out of my camera. They asked me to come back the next day and take all their pictures, since my battery died.

This was the only picture I took on the first day, before the battery died. She's holding the dinner:


They were so excited when I actually came back the next day. This is them putting on the chef hats and checking the mirror:


Preparations were put on hold when some customers showed up.


Things were quickly back on track and all the cooks were brought out:




The final result:


Someone remembered the fake roses under the counter at the last minute and brought them out for a final picture:

I'm going to order prints and give them to ladies, and hopefully I can take some more interesting pictures this winter.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Freshest of Produce

For the past few days, I've been taking pictures of food on the streets on the way home from work. This is a super-cute kid and his mom, with their ginger and garlic cart:



Also, this is apparently the time of year when all shops and apartments buy cabbage and leaks and lay them out on the street. I'm not really sure why.













Monday, November 2, 2009

The sleepless nights of socialized healthcare

About five weeks ago, one of our American employees fell down while walking down stairs and sadly broke her leg in three places. As if that weren't awful enough, she is also completely reliant on the local healthcare system. Normally, Americans who are employed by the government can use their own U.S. health care provider, and the State Department can easily evacuate us to a different city in Asia or to the U.S. However, for various reasons, this employee is considered a 'locally-engaged' staff member and therefore receives the same treatment as any Chinese citizen who goes to a local hospital.

One of the biggest differences between a Chinese hospital and an American hospital - aside from cleanliness and availability of supplies and equipment - is the lack of attention paid to patients by hospital staff. A patient is totally reliant upon his/her family to provide all meals, to take care of other daily issues that arise, even to help move them from one room to another for surgery. This employee has no family in China, so her friends and Consulate staff members essentially need to care for her 24/7. We signed up in 12-hour shifts, either 5:30pm to 7:30am or vice versa.
This would not have been a huge undertaking except that she had to wait nearly one month before having surgery. For the first week or so, her blood pressure was too high, then all of the doctors left the hospital for a week for the National Holidays, and then her leg became infected. It was literally one thing after another, and the whole experience was grueling.
The first time that I stayed with her overnight was 2 Saturdays ago.
Luckily, she had been moved to a private room, so I could sleep on a futon. Other family members who were caring for relatives in shared rooms had to sleep in the hallway, since the rooms literally had 4 beds in a row and no room for cots. Some people brought their own cots, and some just slept on the floor.
People's laundry was hanging everywhere.
I only took pictures of the family members, but patients were also sleeping in the hallway due to overcrowding. When I first arrived and was looking for the room, a middle-aged man in a hospital gown who was lying in a bed and was hooked up to an IV pointed me in the right direction. His wife was lounging in a chair next to him, and they both told me where 'the foreigner' was staying.
I've only been sick once in Shenyang. Three weeks ago, I had a viral inner ear infection. I've never had any kind of ear trouble, so I was surprised when I was diagnosed. I felt awful on Friday and left work early, and on Saturday morning I called the global health clinic. After the American doctor diagnosed me, he told me that there is a medicine to treat ear infections, but he didn't have access to it in Shenyang, so I had to lie in bed for two days until the infection went away. Awful.
Another lovely hospital picture:

This is actually considered to be the best hospital in Northeast China - not including Beijing - and despite all of the downsides that I've listed, the doctors seemed to be very knowledgeable and spoke some English. My only other prior experience with a hospital in China was handling the case of an American citizen who died late at night in a backalley hospital in Shenyang. It was the middle of summer, un-airconditioned, and he was the first foreigner the hospital had ever admitted. This experience was by far the better of the two.