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In early June I packed up a rather large suitcase and headed off to Beijing to indulge in the sights and to try out traditional Chinese medicine. FYI: there’s a reason why you shouldn’t take suitcases on escalators (a rule not enforced in China), but that’s a story for another time.
I spent 5 days in Beijing taking far too many photographs and improving my chi with treatment massages and cupping. I had two treatments in total at the traditional Chinese hospital and left feeling less stressed than I was when I first arrived.
You see, most people go to these types of hospitals to ease their pain or to re-balance their chi. I was no exception, and choose to treat headaches and back pain – a problem those of you who are also travel bloggers or digital nomads will no too well. There is no good posture learnt from working on a computer all day.
Due to the diverse nature of this tour, I’ll be splitting the article into two parts;
- Traditional Chinese Medicine Experience in Beijing
- The sights of Beijing
What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Photo taken by John (A Road to Travel)
If you’re like me, you may not be entirely sure what exactly Traditional Chinese Medicine is. See those marks on my back? That is a form of traditional Chinese medicine called cupping, where hot cups are placed on spots around your back in an aim to treat your illness.
I initially was a little worried about having hot cups on my back but it actually didn’t hurt, it was a bit of a weird feeling though. I had bamboo and normal cupping done. The bamboo cups were rolled over my back and felt a little wet, but still not painful – these did not leave any marks. Actually I found the wet bamboo cups a more soothing than uncomfortable.
My particular hospital, the VIP clinic of Beijing Massage Hospital, was located amongst some traditional Chinese hutongs and was housed across multiple buildings. The main waiting room of the facility used to belong to a doctor to the royal family and is an impressive site with traditional Chinese colours and decoration.
This particular hospital is renowned for it’s traditional Chinese medicine treatments for children and many people travel from around the country to bring their kids here. There are also onsite living quarters for guests traveling from far away. This hospital is located in Baochan Hutong, in the Xicheng district of Beijing.
The western aimed VIP clinic is housed in a slightly different area from where most of the Beijing local patients go. The area is quieter, much less crowded and comfortable.
The Staff And The Service
I wasn’t entirely sure about the English level of the practitioners I’d be seeing but luckily for me I had an English speaking guide for the whole trip. Foreigners admitted to the international section are assigned an English speaking Guide to help you navigate the hospital and your appointments.
Aside from that, the doctor who diagnosed me also spoke English, but the masseuse did not. In fact, my masseuse was blind – many of the masseuse in the hospital were. The hospital proudly supports the disabled and conveniently their skills can be well used here. The blind masseuses has a heightened sense of touch due to their blindness so they are better able to perform the massages.
The service from the staff was of a high quality and I enjoyed that we were able to sample some medicinal teas while waiting for the treatment (pictured above). Every international customer gets their own service specialist who speaks English, private rooms for massages, free tea tasting (as mentioned above), and guidance and techniques to continue your treatment at home.
The main massage type at the hospital is the Pressing Moving Tuina technique, one that has been passed down over four generations of doctors at the hospital. This technique is especially effective for spine, muscle and nervous system treatments.
Broadly speaking traditional Chinese medicine is a good alternative to western medicine in easing joint pain, headaches, sore muscles and other non threatening ails.
The Sights Of Beijing
Beijing is a big city steeped in history and full of architectural wonders such as the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City. We spent our time in between treatments exploring the city and taking tons of photographs.
We also checked out the Badaling section of the Great wall of China, however I must admit I didn’t walk too far along it due to the crazy slope. Still, it was very impressive, as this is the place where you can ride a luge back down to the entrance. The Great Wall is one of those places that must see once in your lifetime, it’s more than just a ‘wall’.
A last minute addition to our time in Beijing was to try out a traditional tea ceremony in Beijing. Our tour guide David hunted down one that wasn’t sale-sy so we could all truly enjoy our time there. The tea tasting was actually one of the highlights of my trip, getting “tea drunk” and hanging out with all of the other bloggers on the trip.
All in all it was worth going straight to the source to test our Chinese traditional medicine. The most important thing for me in choosing a TCM hospital was that I could communicate effectively with the doctors. China is stressful enough without having to deal with the language barrier so I loved that the doctor diagnosing me could understand what I was saying. It sounds simple, but it makes all the difference.
If you’re interested in experiencing traditional chinese medicine in Beijing, here are the details of the company I used.
- Website: massage-hospital.com
- Address: No. 36 Baochan Alley, Xicheng District, Beijing
This experience was part of a press trip I covered on behalf of an old blog of mine. All opinions are my own, as always.