This post was edited by expatter at 2012-7-19 21:17|
Just Another Laowai Day in Beijing ……..
Today there were several superlative things to do in my oft busy life in Beijing. I have had a very minor ear-ache for a couple of weeks in my portside ear, and I was also recovering from a minor bout of Athletes foot. This coincidentally started when my brother came over from the UK for a short holiday and I suspect he brought this virulent disease with him. Also my hair had reached the epic proportions which I used to find trendy in the eighties but no longer now, and in addition I had decided it was time to upgrade my reading glasses as I had already had them some 10 years.
Of course, I knew all this yesterday and had planned to headout to the local Beijing hospital first in the late morning, but it struck me that often these places start lunch around midday and never really get going until 2 p.m. I therefore decided to defer until nearly 2 p.m as I didn’t want to languish in a waiting room with the local inferred nefarious cut-throats any longer than necessary, especially given the horror waits described in some of these very pages on occasion.
I gathered a companion, as in China I am told it is always a good idea to take a witness with you, and we went out into the hot humid air that is the capital in summer and took a vehicle to the hospital. Duly arriving I cast a quick glance around for any footpads, pimps or other suspicious miscreant characters and with the coast clear I entered the hospital at a tad around 2p.m. I was met with the usual frenetic bustle one often experiences in public places in China and quickly I booked in. In the waiting area for ENT it was quite active with about eight belligerent looking people in front of me, so I calmly waited and surfed the internet, as you do, whilst carefully hunching up whenever a young homunculus came near me at a great rate of knots for fear of a crashing contact. After what seemed just a short while I was invited into a consultation room to meet a very pleasant lady doctor who checked my errant ear and informed me of a very minor annoyance that might benefit from just a few incredibly expensive ear-drops.
That accomplished my next difficult mission was the ‘skin’ department and I duly headed there with the ENT doctor who after asking her ‘where the ‘skin’ department was’ had decided to go out her way to not only take me, but also introduce me to the correct doctor without delay. We had a friendly and casual fun time discussing the fascinating history of my feet and I was prescribed a calm soothing cream for minor irritation and a ‘super-nova A bomb’ gel if I had a new outbreak, and allegedly to be used sparingly because if used too much it might result in addiction. Of course I shall have to be carefu lthere given my already accruing dependencies and fixes as I am sure it is not agood thing to have addicted feet. In all a very easy and painless process at that stage, but of course I cannot be sure that these doctors were not trying to rip me off and gain more medical sales from me , and time will only tell in the future.
Leaving the hospital I was prompted to again look around for any chancers or even neer-do-wells who might take advantage of me as a laowai target and headed across the road to a convenient optometrist. Shockingly the process here was almost too easy and within just a very short time I was told that my new glasses would be ready next week. Although, I am deeply suspicious that a proposed ‘sting’ could come when I go to pick up the glasses to be told that the price has doubled and to be threatened by a gang of enforcers, or I might find some thugs might be waiting to ‘mug’ me as I leave the premises. I will of course take my companion ‘witness’with me just in case.
So far so good, and only one more chore to do as regards some ‘coiffure’ and low and behold slightly further down the street I found a suitable hairdressers which I approached with caution having been told that they are a front for prostitutes. I duly entered this suspicious place with trepidation in my heart and insisted before they could say anything that I just wanted a haircut and not a woman. The effeminate looking man looked surprised and told me they did not have any hookers and that all they did was hair. I told him again in no uncertain terms, “Just a haircut, right and no funny stuff!”. He looked perplexed for a while and called a female who for all I knew it was a hooker, and asked her to wash my hair. I am sure she was trying to tempt me with an overly long horizontal sensual head massage, but I pretended to ignore her. The effeminate guy set about mincing around the chair I sat in and proceeded to snip and hum as he worked with some skill I must admit. He directed me to have a rinse where he again set his female accomplice on me in a final desperate attempt to lure me in my horizontal and prone position into their trap, but I was not going to have it and got successfully to the final process, a nice blow-dry. When I asked the final price it was 30 Yuan, and although they had got very little from me I decided to walk out confidently past another of the hairdresser’s accomplices who had suspiciously stationed himself by the door and looked at me from time to time during the cutting process.
Out on the street I breathed a sigh of relief and scoped the locals for vagabonds. Once I was sure it was safe I rushed to a vehicle and jumped in. The ride home was uneventful apart from a selection of the odd black helmeted motorcycle riders who looked into the car at traffic lights and stared longingly at my phone and computer tablet, which I clutched even harder. Near my home I got the driver to stop at a small shop and bought some cigarettes, and it was here that I nearly had one of those life-changing moments. One of those where your heart almost stops and details of your past life start to bore you. Several small children ran noisily around and up to the counter and one grabbed hold of my leg. I was shocked and looked around for the child’s carer half expecting at any moment to be accused of abuse and forced to pay up a large sum of money. It never happened and the child, who had obviously not had the full training in this matter, moved away. Gratefully I dove back into the car and safety.
Finally I arrived home and raced to the door banging it closed behind me. Flat against the locked door’s surface I breathed a big sigh of relief, as I had made it back without incident. I reflected on the experience of the last 4 hours. In that time I had visited 2 departments in a Beijing hospital, bought some new glasses and had a haircut. A seemingly and almost gargantuan feat given that many regularly inform me that I would need at least two full-days for these types of activities in China. I had managed to avoid being robbed or mugged on the street, and I had also avoided being set upon by an unscrupulous prostitute ring calmly fronting up as a so called ‘hairdressers’. I reflected that this had been a good day andI had even been lucky enough to not be spotted by cynical confidence trickster parents as their child knowingly hung on to my leg in a trained practiced manner.
I was home and safe.
All in all it was indeed just another laowai day in Beijing ……….