Today was by no means a busy day but it was definitely an eventful day. We started out with the luxury of getting up a little later then usual (meeting at 9:30!). Our breakfast was the usual mix of fried rice, toast, and fried duck eggs. The first stop was the art district. With our early start most if the streets were deserted and we got to look around all by ourselves. The streets were filled with modern art as well as traditional Chinese art. You could see things from graffiti of a giant squid on the walls as well as men in black to statues if giant caged dinosaurs and sharks devouring chairs. It was fun to walk around and I wish we had more time to explore the vastness of it.
Our next stop was our last and most exciting official stop of the day. All dressed up we made our way to the embassy. The process turned out to be a little bit difficult. We got to the front gate and first turned over our passports to get our visitor passes. Next we went through security which is a lot like airport security only here when you turn over your electronics you don't get them until you leave. So sadly we progressed on short our cameras but plus some escorts. The embassy itself was set up very uniquely. It was kind of a hybrid of a jail and a maze. They told us this was partly due to the fact that the building needed to be able to withstand a bomb. The interior design was beautiful, there was no shortage of art on the walls. One of my personal favorites, and I think many others, was the bathrooms! They were perfectly western completed with western toilets, toilet paper, and dyson hand blades. Since we were a little early we were able to stop at the commissary and pick up some favorite foods that we haven't seen in a month. I personally got some flaming hot Cheetos. Our escort next brought us up to see the medical clinic. This clinic was basically the same kind of clinic that we are used to seeing back home. It was interesting to compare and talk to a nurse that works there. But we had to run to make it to our appointment on time.
We made it to our conference room and all excitedly waited around the table. After a few minutes of patiently waiting Ambassador Gary Locke made his entrance. He politely asked about our trip thus far and our studies abroad. Then with a change if pace he talked to us about how western presence and practice of medicine is greatly needed in a place like China. He attested to the poor set up of the healthcare system and how it needs some work. He gave an example that if you walk into a hospital and you are having a heart attack you will not receive health care until you have paid for the service. Yes, if you are a citizen you will have health insurance but the coverage is minimal and the patients almost always have to pay cash up front for services. It was a unique experience that we are all very grateful for. We got the pleasure to talk to him about PLU. He praised our school and applauded us for going to a liberal arts school. He too felt that it is so important to receive a broad education to help you become a world citizen. We obviously agreed with him. To conclude our visit we pulled our PLU banner out and took a picture with him (which we will hopefully be receiving in a couple of weeks once it makes its way through security to us). I feel very lucky for the opportunity for an experience like this. It was a great way to start the wrap up of our trip.