CHINA APRIL 2013 – 9th visit:
Our first stop the morning after arriving for China Cancer Treatment on Wednesday 3 April, was to go over to the Renkang Hospital Houjie Dongguan, to see Dr Wang, Dr Li and the other doctors, nurses and interpreters to discuss the treatment plan. Unfortunately, from 4-6 April is Qingming Festival (also known as Pure Brightness Festival or Tomb-sweeping Day), which falls on either April 4th or 5th of the Gregorian calendar. From that date temperatures begin to rise and rainfall increases, indicating that it is the crucial time for plowing and sowing in the spring. Qingming Festival therefore has a close relationship with agriculture, however, it is not only a seasonal symbol; it is also a day of paying respect to the dead, a spring outing, and other activities. So my standing appointment for blood to be taken at Laboratory on Friday 5 could not go ahead, but they were opening on Sunday 7 for me to have it done. Even Dr Wang was not available due to the upcoming holiday. So we just went to Guangzhou anyway to await the start of the treatment cycle on Sunday 7 April.
I went to the Military Hospital Laboratory for the extraction of about 200ml of blood for culturing for DC-CIK – less than an hour on the machine, then back to being a tour guide for the next 2 weeks. The shortest ever time!
19 April Gerry and I returned to the Renkang Hospital for the re-infusion of my DC-CIK. Treatment commenced on 20 April for 5 days total. Everything went well except my chest port decided to misbehave but fixed ok, and at the conclusion of the 5 days we were told by Dr Wang and Dr Li that as my condition is very stable, I do not need to come back for 6 months. The new cycle is 6 monthly for 1 year, commencing October 2012, then the plan after that is yearly visits for the DC-CIK.
All is good.
CHINA TOUR, APRIL 2013;
T&J, Gerry and I started in Houjie, just a couple of hours by car from Hong Kong. The Well Garden Hotel near the Renkang Hospital was quite good and T&J were able to see the hospital where we have spent a lot of time having treatment. We took them over to meet some of the staff, including interpreters and doctors and it was good for them to see how warmly they greeted us. T&J also took the opportunity to start their shopping experience.
Next stop was Guangzhou where Gerry and I lived in the Military Hospital for 5 months at the beginning of the treatment. The hospital was only a 10 minute walk from the Dong Fang Hotel and were able to show them around the immediate district and also the city generally, as well as a few local sights – Liu Hua Lake complex, Chen Ancestral Academy Museum and Tomb of the Nanyue King Museum. We walked everywhere, having a look around the hospital and meeting one of our favourite doctors from the Military Hospital, Dr Shoa. We also did some more shopping. The area near the hospital and hotel is very busy, as is the rest of China, but there are also some peaceful lakes and parks within easy walking distance.
We flew to Guilin, short flight away, and checked into Guilin Bravo Grand Wing, a nice hotel near an branch of the Li River. There was a beautiful lake nearby and we spent lots of time wandering around looking at the sights, one day walking for about 6 hours including a lunch stop and an afternoon tea stop. The local food is very interesting and we have tried many different dishes, some awful and some delicious. T lost his wallet in Guilin and had to cancel all the credit cards. Replacements were organised without difficulty. A taxi driver returned the wallet about 6 hours later, with the cards intact but the driver must have taken all the cash as a reward!
We took a private car tour with guide to Longi Terraced Fields in Ping’an Zhuang Village Rice Terraces. The 70.1 sq. km. Rice terraces are 1180 m at the highest point and 380 m lowest above sea level. There are 6 villages, and we visited Ping’an, where we looked around and had lunch a local eatery (very basic). It was good to be able to experience how the local minority people live. The scenery in this area Is stunning, but the minority groups are very dependent upon visitors. We were to see the long hair tribe, but due to rain there was a landslide and the road impassible. Next time!
Leaving Guilin after 3 nights, we took a 4 hour trip down the Li River on a cruise boat. We enjoyed the cruise but conditions were very basic. It was cold and grey but we were rugged up. We had a guide and being without one would be difficult. We travelled in a group of about 14 boats, each with 100-150 people. Between Guilin and Yangshou the river meanders for 83 Km. Scenery was interesting through the imposing limestone karst mountain peaks lining the banks, but commentary was sparse and difficult to understand at times. The boats are old and not luxurious; ours had 3 toilets but only one was western style. Han Yu, a great poet of the Tang Dynasty, wrote a popular poem to praise the beautiful scenery of this river – ‘The river winds like a blue silk ribbon, While the hills erect like green jade hairpins’ – probably better viewed without rain! There was plenty of food, a Chinese buffet, but the locals are not good at waiting in a queue. Overall the cruise is interesting and worth doing but our Yangshou hotel owner suggested that a bamboo rafting trip is more enjoyable, even if many of the rafts are made of PVC pipes shaped to look like bamboo. Again, you would need better weather!
The Moondance Hotel at Yangshuo is quite good, probably about 4-star (Chinese version). It has only 12 rooms and is more like a B&B, with western toilets, a small bar/lounge area, small dining room and really, really nice staff, some of whom speak good English. Their hot ginger tea is really great, and the included breakfast adequate. It is a 10 minute taxi ride from the small village near the hotel into Yangshou. It is very interesting to see village and farming life going on around us. The pool is empty but will be filled from May to November, not heated, and there is a nice garden.
West Street in Yangshou is a shopping haven, very touristy with a number of Western eating options. We were glad not to be staying in one of the hotels in the town because they can be very noisy from traffic, tourists, bars and the Light Show ‘Impressions Sanjie Liu’. The Light Show is worth seeing. We paid the extra money for VVIP seats for A$50 a seat as this provides for a guide to meet you at the gate and escort you to the seats and a very good elevated view. You can get a taxi to and from the Show for about A$12 return trip. The show is musical and classical Chinese, with very good lighting and special effects. There is a cast of over 600 performers and the area of the stages is almost 2 km with 12 mountain peaks in the background on the banks of the Li River.
We also took a trip to 500 year old Huang Yao Ancient Town, and enjoyed that experience. It is a 90 minute drive each way, at a cost of about A$150 for car, driver, guide, lunch and entrance fees; very interesting. You can also do the rice terraces from here, as it is a 2.5-hour drive from either Guilin or Yangshuo.
Next stop is Xi’an. We left Yangshuo for a 2 hour drive to the Guilin airport, then a 2-hour flight to Xi’an.
Our hotel in Xi’an was the Tang Dynasty Art Garden Hotel. The hotel was a redeveloped 5 years ago, originally a museum that was also very old, so has many articles of note from the Tang Dynasty. With 8 million people Xi’an is a very busy place but we stayed in a relatively quiet area that was built only in the past 5 years. The centre piece of the development was a 1400 year old pagoda, called the Wild Goose Pagoda. Early before the 119BC, a trade route began to develop gradually, starting from today’s Xi’an and reached directly to the Mediterranean Sea, with silk as the leading source of trade – it was later named the ‘Silk Road’. From the year 25AD during the Eastern Han period, Indian Buddhism was introduced to China eastward along the Silk Road. In 645AD the expansive Big Wild Goose Pagoda of Da Ci’en Temple was built – the very one we can see today!
Built around the pagoda was a virtually complete new suburb of hotels, shops, restaurants, parks, gardens, tourist facilities and houses that are probably occupied by quite wealthy locals. In the park surrounding the hotel is also a famous (in China) series of water fountains with a light and sound show, with performance nightly for locals and tourists alike.
There are a number of interesting sights to see in and around Xi’an but the highlight of Xi’an are the famous Terracotta Warriors. These warriors were made 2200 years ago by the Emperor of the day who wanted protection in the after-life. It took 38 years to build the army, while he was alive of course. Although the location of 10,000 warriors is known, only a small group have been unearthed because the Government doesn’t want to expose any more to the atmosphere until technology is developed to allow better preservation than exists today. The warriors underground are all coloured but exposure to the air obliterates the colour within a very short time. The site of the Emperor’s tomb is also known but it remains uncovered for the same reason. The warriors have all been recovered damaged except one one that has been salvaged in original condition, the kneeling archer. The Emperor had everyone who was involved in producing and placing the warriors in formation executed – 720,000 people were executed – but still some survived and robbed and destroyed the warrior pits 2 years after the emperor died. It is an amazing museum.
After Xian we flew to Guangzhou Baiyun Airport with a car transfer to Humen, where we spent the last few days with T&J. We stayed at a very good 5-star hotel Sofitel Dongguan Humen Oriental Hotel (now being rebadged as part of the Regent Hotel chain). We were fortunate to be able to attend a introduction party for some hotel guests to meet the movers and shakers from the new Management of Regent Group. We had a great social time for a few hours eating and drinking to excess, and met some amazing people.
We did some final shopping here, just in case we had missed a couple of shops in other places. Prices in China are amazing for Aussies.
Once we waved goodbye to T&J for the next adventure in Europe for them, we returned to Renkang Hospital. At the end of the treatment we spent 2 nights at the Well Garden, then got a taxi to Humen (20 minutes) to wait in our Hotel for 4 nights to meet our flight from Hong Kong to Australia via the Humen Ferry. Home on 1 May!
TREATMENT PHASE – 10th visit to China:
Dr Li, Claire, Dr Zhang, Prof. Pong, LV, Dr Lu, Dr Wang
We arrived again for China Cancer Treatment on 9 October, 2013, and went to Renkang Hospital, Houjie, to make arrangements for the visit to the Military Hospital Laboratory in Guangzhou to take the blood for culturing the DC-CIK Immune Cell Therapy. The next day, accompanied by the interpreter, we went on the road trip from Houjie to Guangzhou to have around 100 mls of white cells harvested from my blood, which took around about an hour with no problems. After this, I was told to be back at the Renkang Hospital for treatment in 12 days. During this time over 14 days the white cells will be cultured, and the increased volume will be introduced into by body over 3 days 500 ml at a time. The reason for coming back to the hospital in 12 days, is that the two days before having the DC-CIK, I was given 100 ml of Recombinant Interleukin to enhance the DC-CIK, then in the 3 days of the DC-CIK was also given Interleukin at the same time. Interleukins are part of a family of proteins called cytokines. Immune system cells in the body normally make small amounts of interleukins as a way to communicate with each other. Different interleukins make parts of the body’s immune system more or less active. It is a form of immunotherapy – it boosts the body’s immune system to help fight cancer. Interleukin 2 causes the body to make more of certain immune system cells, prompts immune system cells to be more effective, and causes the cells to make more of some other cytokines.
Before beginning the treatment, Dr Wang asked if I would consider also taking a new supplement called Salvestrol. In the 6 months that I have been away between treatments, Dr Wang has been using Salvestrol with patients and has had a lot of success in increasing the effectiveness of the cancer fighting treatments. Salvestrols cannot be made in the body. They have to be supplied through our diet and, to date, herbalists have identified Salvestrols in many organic fruits, vegetables and herbs. The main feature of Salvestrols is that they target a specific enzyme called CYP1B1 (pronounced “sip one, bee one”) found only in diseased cells of the human body. When the Salvestrols are metabolised by CYP1B1 it starts a series of processes that result in the death of the diseased cell (known as ‘apoptosis’ or programmed cell death). Healthy cells, containing no CYP1B1, remain and the diseased cells die. Salvestrols act as a natural rescue mechanism, ensuring our cells function corr Salvestrols actively eliminate damaged cells, helping us heal before sufficient accumulation can make us sick. After reading the information supplied, I was more than happy to take Salvestrol. See website: http://www.salvacare.co.nz/index.php/salvacare-home
The five days of my treatment completed, I was told that as my condition is now considered stable that I come back in 6 months for more China Cancer Treatment. All is good! Yay!!!
My son, wife and grand-daughter flew to Hong Kong from Adelaide with Gerry and I, and they then stayed over for three days in Hong Kong and did the tourist thing, which included a trip to Hong Kong Disneyland. During the time they were in Hong Kong, we came to Houjie to see Dr Wang and Dr Li at the Renkang Hospital to have blood tests and arrange the visit to the Laboratory in Guangzhou. This having been completed, we all met up at the Well Garden Hotel in Houjie on 12 October for the start of the 10 day ‘holiday’ together. It was pretty exciting for them as they had never been to China before.
We spent 2 nights together at Houjie and we took them around to all the local shopping spots as well as showing them Renkang Hospital. On 14 October we then went to Baiyun Airport Guangzhou to catch our flight to Guilin, where we overnighted at the Sheraton Guilin Hotel – of course not missing another shopping opportunity before retiring for the evening. The next morning we had an early start as we went on the Li River Cruise. This is a 4 hour trip meandering along the beautiful Li River and got off in Yangshuo.
Yangshuo is another beautiful location, and our Moondance Boutique Hotel around 9 miles from the hustle and bustle of the very touristy town was a perfect retreat for us for 3 nights. The first night we went to see the famous Light Show ‘Impression Liu San Jie’, which is a must see. This show is just fantastic, performed right on the river, and was a product of the famous Chinese Director Zhang Yimou – he also directed the 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremony. The show is a 75 minute performance on the Li River with over 600 actors and actresses from the local villages. The story entails the famous third sister of the Liu family who fell in love with Brother A Niu under the ancient Banyan Tree. The show is an artistic translation of the story which combines local elements and modern choreography, high tech. effects and superb lighting.
The next day we went on an enjoyable day trip, saw very old bridges including the curved Yulong bridge, 700 years old, and the Gongnong Bridge. We also visited the very old Jiuxian Village and were able to go inside one of the homes, where a seemingly ancient woman showed us her treasured photos and also memorabilia from Chairman Mao era. Went to a very cute hotel in an old home, called the Secret Garden, and had the very best meal ever there. After lunch, went to the Fisherman’s Village of Yangdi, where we boarded our bamboo rafts for a 2 hour ride down the Yulong River, which was very relaxing and scenic.
18 October flew back to Baiyun Guangzhou airport and were transported to our home for 3 nights, Grand Noble Dongguan Hotel, Humen. We spent a great day shopping in Humen and finding incredible bargains (again) and the next day caught the fast train from Humen to Guangzhou South Railway Station. This trip would take around 90 minutes by car, but only 15 minutes in the fast train – very good! We then got on the metro underground at the train station and got off in the part of Guangzhou near to the Military Hospital, where we proceeded to shop till we dropped (again). Returned tired but happy on the 7pm fast train back to Humen. 21 October, the family caught the ferry from Humen to Hong Kong airport for their return to Australia and we went back to the Renkang Hospital for the 5 day treatment. Then 2 days at Well Garden Hotel and 2 more days at Grand Noble Dongguan Hotel and back on the ferry to Hong Kong to go home on 29 October.