I can understand Gwyneth’s excitement about visiting Beijing. I will never forget the first time I arrived in Beijing in 1998. I had to keep pinching myself to make sure it was really real, and that I indeed had landed in Beijing, a half a world away from New York City, to realize my dream of studying Chinese Medicine in the Mother Land.

I started each morning with a vigorous bicycle ride through the old hu-tong alleys of Beijing to get to the hospital and start treating patients. On the way I would stop and partake in the hot congee soup offered for breakfast along the way. At the hospital clad in my white lab coat I did not exactly blend in, but the patients warmed to my presence and were gracious and very curious. What was an ‘old foreigner’, doing in a hospital for Chinese Medicine? I took great delight in explaining to them, much to their amazement, that Chinese Medicine has a burgeoning tradition in the West. I also took cab rides whenever possible to practice my Chinese on a captive audience, my unsuspecting cab drivers. We always had lively conversations about Chinese Medicine versus Western medicine. It was in these conversations that I learned my first Chinese idiom: “Western medicine treats the branch, Chinese medicine treats the root.”

I cherish the memories of China, from climbing the Great Wall to riding my bicycle through the streets of Beijing to working in the hospitals seeing patients. I hope you enjoy Gwyneth Paltrow’s post in GOOP Go on Beijing.

Yours in health,


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