CHINA-December 2005
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North Penn Hernia Institute
North Penn Hernia Institute

My Flight from the USA took 13.5 hours, from Newark, NJ to Beijing. The course took me north, over New England, Nova Scotia and then over the Canadian Maritime Provinces. Then on up over Greenland and directly over the North Pole. No signs of Santa here, although I looked down anyway. This time of year, it is completely dark (24/7) above the Arctic Circle. While flying over the North Pole, I wondered, what time-zone it is if you are standing at the North Pole? (Answer-all of them!!! although at the precise finite-point of the north pole, the Time Zone is GMT)
After crossing the North Pole, we headed south over Russia, Siberia and Mongolia and into The People's Republic of China. I did get a brief glimpse of the Great Wall from the air but unable to get photo in time. Landing in Beijing (population of 30 million) right on time (go figure). Beijing, site for the 2008 Summer Olympics is massive as seen form the air.
After landing in Beijing, where I was greeted by George Wang of J&J, and a 3 hour layover, it was another 3 hour flight to Shanghai. Air China was every-bit as comfortable as our own domestic flights here in the USA (and in fact, more so in some regards).

Shanghai, which is a "Special City" (meaning it is not within a Province, but is in essence, a Province and City unto itself), has a population of about 20 million. It is perhaps "The" technological center of China, and is Chinese home to numerous large American and other international headquarters. Our Stars and Stripes can be seen flying along side of the Chines flag throughout the city. What a joy that was for me to see. Shanghai is every bit a cosmopolitan city, bustling with activity. Fine shopping is everywhere with shops you'd see on 5th Avenue, Worth Avenue or Rodeo Drive, as well as those found in every mall. The people greeted me with a smile at every turn and all were willing to assist me. Of course, I stuck out in the crowd.


The Hotels were fabulous, both in Shanghai, where I stayed at the Sheraton Grand and in Chengdu, SiChuan Province at the Crowne Plaza. These hotels were as luxurious as any I've ever been to in the USA and certainly nicer than many others I been in outside our country. The staff were all multi-lingual, and could not have been kinder. Breakfasts were just like home: omelets and toast and GREAT coffee too.

ChengDu, in SiChuan Provine is located about 1000 miles due west of ShangHai. While also a very large city (11 million), it is a bit more slow-paced than is ShangHai or Beijing. It is a more industrial type city, known for its Tea Houses and fine dining too. SiChuan Province is of course famous for its Spicier food (seen here in the USA too but often written as Szechuan Cuisine). SiChuan is home for China's National Panda and Research Centers. I had a great opportunity to visit the center outside of Chengdu during my very-little spare time available to me.

YiBing, located at the headwaters of the Yangtze River, is a "small" city by Chinese standards. It's population is about 2 million. There are some 600 cities in China with a population of 1 million or greater. While the total population is listed at 1.3 Billion, many of the rural citizens cannot be accurately counted. YiBing is located about 150 miles south of ChengDu. We traveled by car over a 4-lane toll highway, not unlike our Interstates, although less well traveled and not quite as con temporarily kept in repair. Still, travel was easy. It was here I presented a workshop to over 300 surgeons at the People's Hall of the Communist Party. The Chinese people no longer feel they are under the powerful communist suppression they once were.

Dining in China was actually an enjoyable learning experience. While I certainly had angst about the food and eating there, I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, my breakfasts (a' la hotels) were very western in cuisine. But I enjoyed several traditional Chinese meals as well. The Chinese table(Restaurants and a Banquet in YiBing too) is round, with a big Lazy Susan" in the center. A variety of dishes such as noodles, rice, vegetables, chicken and always a fish, are placed on the Lazy-Susan. Spin it and help yourself. Chop-Sticks are a must. Learned to love Beijing Duck (AKA Peking Duck). Eating it is an Art Form. Never saw a fork except at the hotel in the AM, but I am OK with that. I got quite good at it. Have you ever tried to pick up a peanut with chop sticks from a moving dish spinning on a lazy-Susan as it passes by in front of you. I was 3 for 6 with that. Some things were unidentifiable, but I tried them anyway. Brave huh? Guess what, they were quite tasty indeed...REALLY!!!. Some small problems with texture for me (fish bones and gristle etc.). No problem! There is a plate along side just for depositing those things.

Medicine and Surgery, while not quite as contemporary as here in the USA, seems to be on the Up-swing. The surgeons I met are eager to learn and develop their skills and techniques and use advanced technology. It was a great pleasure for me to participate in their learning experience. I believe their patients are in good hands and lucky to be cared for by such seemingly devoted care-givers.

The tradition of excellence in this company is as evident in China as it is here in the USA. Moreover, the J & J/Ethicon staff who traveled with me and saw to my every need have become true friends. I look forward to traveling back and sharing my experiences and opinions again in the near future.