When ginseng grows into unique, remarkable shapes or has the figure of a human, the root is displayed in a fine case rather than used as treatment. These pieces can be worth quite a large sum of money.
Sunday we spent half a day at the Herbal Medicine Market in north Chengdu. It is a wholesale market for purveyors of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioners such as doctors and acupuncturists. Although well known in that community, it is NOT a tourist destination, so the owners, customers, and other people in the 1800 or shops within the complex are not used to seeing us long guilao "foreign devils" or "white ghosts" (old Cantonese/Mandarin slang for foreigners), so we received stares upon stares--especially this blonde ghost! It felt like being back in Kham (Western Sichuan) during my travels, where long guilao--moste especially blonde or red hair - -may have never been seen before by locals! Famous again!
One of the reasons I moved to China was to experience and learn firsthand the traditions of herbal medicine, Qi Gung, and Taoism... and I found one source! My friend, M., had recently discovered an English-speaking TCM who originally hailed from Australia, but lives and practices in Chengdu. Dr. Adam Tate was our host, and presented the tourat the market, to be finished with an herb-full healthful, medicinal meal back at Panda Guesthouse, where we all congregated to begin the tour. The tour was also hosted by Liz from Fat Cat, a local start-up art space and gallery, recently opened by her and her Chinese fiance'. They hired Didis (Chinese Uber) for our group of 12, and we set off for the very, very long drive up north to the market. Read on for photos and to learn about these herbs -- some of which originated in the west and migrated to China; although unfortunately, we no longer use these vital, healing herbs. The majority of the herbs are locally harvested and grown, here in Sichuan, or in the nearby provinces of Yunnan and Tibet! Others, such as saffron, are imported from India, Iran, Africa, and Europe.
Ophiocordyceps, known as Yartsa Gunbu in Tibetan: "summer grass, winter worm".
The most prolific item for sale in the market at this time of year is cordyceps, aka caterpillar fungus. In fact, Dr. Adam claimed that there are millions and millions of US dollars worth of Cordyceps contained in the collective shops of the market! This herb (actually a fungus) is a major part of the economy of the Tibetan populace who live near the high mountains where it is harvested in the Autonomous Regions of Kham (Western SIchuan), Tibet, Yunnan, and Qinghai. (These are the provinces of which I learned, there may be more.) Cordyceps is remarkable in that it is a fungus which invades a small caterpillar, and grows outward in a black string-like projection as it mummifies its host. It is a tonifier, which strenghtens the whole body.
Ginseng is also a tonifying remedy, called renshen in Chinese. Asian ginseng -- panax ginseng -- is a creamy-white when pulled fresh from the earth and used to increase yin energies. Red ginseng, like Korean ginseng has been preserved in alchohol and increases yang characteristics. About yin and yang: www.tcmworld.org/what-is-tcm/yin-yang-theory/. Both cordyceps and ginseng are among the many "graded" medicines in the market; graded for quality, such as AAAAA vs. AA.
Glass cases full of ginseng line the aisles in one of the more highly regarded reputable shops, where the herbs are packaged attractively and of higher grades.
Click read more to the right, for many more photos and info about TCM and the medicine market!
The parteeee continues at a local pub/restaurant, Commune. JoAnna got me flowers and I bought the cake from Sherry at Bobcat Bakery, which is actually the kitchen in her house! She is a local pastry chef that also made the amazing chocolate torte I had for my BDay dinner at Kathmandu. And no! I did not drink the bottle of Maker's Mark on my own--I had lots of eager help!
Hover over the photos; some have captions!
Had a fabulous birthday in Chengdu! The first of many? If you know me, you know my Birthdays are spread out over at least one week, and I sometimes even celebrate my Half-Birthday! My last few years of Birthdays have been spectacular and loud and silly--spent with my besties in ATX. This year, my birthday was spectacular and loud and silly (at least Part One was) with my new Besties! Last night, I had dinner with some GFs from work at Kathmandu, the Nepalese-Indian fusion restaurant on the West side, owned by my Tibetan friend Sogyal. Delish! For dessert, we enjoyed a custom-made Chocolate Mousse Cake made by Sherry at Bobcat Bakery! Saturday, a larger group of us will commune at Commune with more food, raucousness, loud music, and ample bottle service (dangerous hehehe!) Of course, I am getting another cake from Sherry: dulce de leche! I received beautiful presents and flowers and lots of love!
As I lie in bed, reflecting on the evening and the day and age, I wondered to myself if I felt any different? Nope. I don't feel "older" or "old". I'm in a new decade that society judges, but I will maintain my own self-possession and self-definition. I may "age" but I refuse to get "old"! And this is evident by the people that are attracted to my Light!
Happy Birthday to Me!
Movers come tonight to move me into my new place, .4 km down the road! Ikea delivers some stuff on Friday. And Saturday is my Birthday Celebration Round Two!
I love my Bday!!! Wheeeee ... only 6 more months until my Half Birthday!
On the wonderful side, I’m sitting in a nice “bistro” (although that term doesn’t seem to fit here in China). Looks more like a fancy coffee shop with its pretty white booths and shiny bottles lined up along the wall. But bistro food, yes. The bread looks like it rivals that in Paris (or Whole Foods, LOL), although some of it has ingredients uncommon to the US, such as durian. The menu are includes gourmet pizzas, sandwhiches, teas, coffee, cakes, pasta and (really weird) burgers. The couple across from me is sharing half a lobster (how come lobster is not on my menu???) and a pizza. They offer plastic gloves for pizza eating, so your hands don’t get all stinky and greasy. Now I LOVE that!!!! At first I thought they gave me the English-version menu... but then I re-read it, and oh yes, there is lobster on my menu, too, LOL.
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Re: getting lost and needing help, and the awesome people of Chengdu.
I have prided myself in my navigational ability inland and at sea... not anymore! I have been lost so many times the past two weeks it's ridiculous! In Paris and here, in Chengdu! The phrase I silently repeat most often to myself is: "What can I control? What can I control? What can I control?" It has become a calming mantra for me as I get exasperated with wifi issues at home (5 minutes to load a page), inability to communicate, frustration at my stupid old POS iPhone not having wifi outside of home or school, difficulty in transportation, eating, buying groceries, my debit and credit cards not working here, inability to get all the apps that I need to survive here (everything is app-based)...
...Just the basics of moving to a foreign country where I don't speak the language and suffer from my own impatience at wanting everything to be finished in one week. The impatience stems from the urgent desire to feel SETTLED and SECURE. When I can't find my way out of a damn multi-level grocery store (which is in a multi-level mall) back to the street so that I can walk two blocks home (like last night!) -- that sinking feeling of helplessness creeps in and I begin to feel overwhelmed. Luckily, even in the angst, I remember--well, it takes some time, but eventually, I remember--to take deep breaths, be patient, and ask myself "What can I control?". After fleeing floor after floor, walking in circles, and starting to feel frustrated, tired, and anxious, I start looking for someone to ask. I pause mentally to remind myself that yes, I will eventually get out of this grocery store and get home... I will not have to move in to the store and live here... this present scene has its end... I am still trying to hold and accept that nothing will last forever (good or bad); the concept of forever has caused me pain the past!
Yes, I am rambling; I need this outlet :-))
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