After returning to Shanghai from Beijing on Christmas Eve, I became ill. That evening, my mom and I walked Nanjing West Road and checked out the popular shopping area. My body began to ache, my temperature was slightly elevated, and I was fatigued. On Christmas Day, instead of shopping and checking out the salsa scene in Shanghai as I planned, I slept throughout the day and never left the apartment. However, during my lucid moments, which were breaks between sleep, I was able to do a little research online and located several therapists practicing in Shanghai – all trained in the US. My intentions were to scope out the city and learn more about mental health in Shanghai to gauge the feasibility of setting up a short term immersion program for practitioners. So with my limited energy, I sent three emails with low expectations – cold calling rarely works. To my pleasant surprise, I received three responses. Only 1 person was in Shanghai that week. We made an appointment to meet my last day in Shanghai.

It’s a good thing I rested because the next morning, bright and early, my mother and I set out for Hangzhou. It was a 3 hour bus ride with another tour group (I’m finding out just how popular tour groups are in China). Hangzhou is in the Zhejiang province of China about 100 miles outside of Shanghai. It is known for the Liuhe (“six harmonies”) pagoda and the West Lake, which has been renamed 6 times. The city is known for its blossoming cherry trees during spring, specifically in April as we were informed by our tour guide. Because we were part of the tour group, we were held captive and were taken to the National Silk museum, and other tourist trap venues where you are encouraged to buy more things you don’t need, or even want. We did get a chance to visit Ling Yin (“soul’s retreat”) Buddhist temple. After spending an entire day with the group, we had a chance to speak with some of the other participants of the tour group. More importantly, my mom and I were able to engage in a long overdue conversation while walking through soul’s retreat. Nothing profound in Hangzhou – just beautiful scenery and more opportunity for mother-daughter bonding.

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