One Less Reason to Avoid Seeing a Dentist

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You know something has gone wrong when a dentist is staring into your mouth with a mixture of shock and bemusement. Keep in mind he wasn’t my primary dentist, either. This was one of his two colleagues he asked his nurse to fetch. Apparently, my mouth was quite a horror story his colleagues had to see to believe.

“Yup,” the guy peering into my mouth said, “This one’s a doozy!” He turned back to the guy actually performing my surgery. “You’re going to write a paper about this later, right?”

Such is the bedside manner of American military health care providers. This was a long time ago, when I was on Christmas vacation from college, and I had gone back to England to visit my parents. On Christmas morning, I woke up and couldn’t move my face. I could barely open my mouth. Long story short, I had a severely abscessed tooth that led to massive swelling. Fixing it required a root canal from hell. Another dentist once read my case file and managed to pause between fits of laughter to apologize. “I’m not laughing at you,” he said. “It’s just I have never seen or read anything like this before!”

Many people develop unique reasons why they put off going to the dentist. The above scenario made me delay getting a wisdom tooth removed for years. Then, the reasons changed. I blamed the poor state of my mouth on being an adjunct college writing instructor, not having dental or medical benefits, and not being able to afford a simple cleaning and check up. Then, I moved to China and cited the language barrier as why I couldn’t go. That excuse is probably one of the more common ones expats use – that and the inability to find a good dentist. In Changzhou, that reasoning doesn’t work anymore.

Modern Dental has capable staff that can speak English, and they have a highly skilled dentist with excellent English. Sometimes, navigating hospitals requires tasking a Chinese friend to come with you to translate. I know of this first hand; back in 2014, I contracted laryngitis and had to make multiple visits to a hospital in Wujin. It’s always good to know, however, that sometimes you don’t have to bother Chinese friends for assistance. Modern Dental offers that exact convenience while maintaining high standards of service.

Currently, they have two offices in Changzhou. The easiest to locate might be the one in the Jiuzhou New World Plaza in Tianning. It’s on the fourth floor, and that mall is easily accessible by several BRT busses like the B1, B16, and B11. The other office may be a little harder to locate. It’s on Yulong Road in Zhonglou. That is walking distance from the downtown Injoy Plaza, but it’s on a back street that runs parallel to Yanling. The Youdian Phone Markets are also nearby. A check up and a cleaning costs 525 RMB.

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Modern Dental, Fourth Floor of Jiuzhou New World Plaza

As for me, up until recently, I have been avoiding the dentist for 10+ years. You could imagine the dread and apprehension I felt while waiting to get into the chair. I had imagined and feared that my mouth was filled with scandals that could become fodder for academic literature. Turns out, nothing was wrong. I just needed a very thorough cleaning. Since this is me we are talking about, I’ll likely just find something new to become intensely neurotic about. Give me time.

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Jiuzhou Plaza. Chinese address is at the bottom.

 

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The 215 Circle

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I learn about Changzhou by riding buses.

I had written this into Baidu Translate, switched it into Chinese, and showed it to a rather bewildered bus station employee. She smiled and nodded, and then started rattling off something in Chinese. I replied with 对不起,我的中文很真不好  Duìbùqǐ, wǒ de zhōngwén hěn zhēn bù hǎo (I am sorry, my Chinese is really bad). She smiled, nodded, and left me alone.

When you wander around like I do, you sometimes get this sense of bewilderment from the locals. Who is this foreigner? And why is he here, of all places? Is he lost? He has to be! There is no reason for him to be here! Typically, this attitude pops up more in far flung places. It never happens in downtown Xinbei or Nandajie, because, well, the locals tend to expect foreigners to be there — not in a place like Huangtu 黄土镇.

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Technically, I was not really even in Changzhou anymore. Huangtu is actually part of Jiangyin. However, I had taken the 215 bus from Hohai University and I rode it to its terminus. It had passed Dinosaur Park, and then it turned and eventually crossed over the city line. Jiangyin / Huangtu is part of Wuxi, so technically, you could say I took the bus to Wuxi today. The idea was to to get off and explore the area.

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Turns out, there wasn’t much to see. The 215’s end of the line is in an really obscure corner of Huangtu. So, I just walked down the road and bought a pack of smokes and returned to the bus station. I did notice one thing.

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There was a guy out here who set up a bee apiary, and the bees were all over the place.

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I don’t know if the guy was selling honey. If he was, he picked a silly location because literally there is no traffic out here.  For some reason and by random association, the following two lines of a Pablo Neruda poem leaped into my imagination:

 

Where can a blind man live

who is pursued by bees?

 

Donde puede vivir un ciego

a quien persiguen las abejas?

–Translation by William O’Daly

 

Neruda never answers that question, either. It comes from his The Book of Questions. The whole poetry collection is just a long list of surreal and unanswerable inquiries. I made a mental note to see if this volume was on Kindle, later. At the moment, however, I was happy to note that, A) I was not blind, and B) I was not being pursued by bees, yet. Nobody wants to be pursued by bees, and that includes me. I also realized I should definitely leave before that happens. So, I got back on the bus once it was ready to go.

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I also noticed that once the bus cruised back into Xinbei proper, the bus didn’t go in a reverse route of what had taken me to Mister Beekeeper’s apiary.  I eventually learned that the 215 is a circular — not linear — route. Because, it eventually passed where I originally boarded, Hohai University.

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I later learned that the Neruda’s weird little tome was not on Kindle, but somebody scanned their copy as a PDF. Kudos to whoever did that!

The Good Person Walk of Fame

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Governments often like to showcase people they deem as exemplary citizens. In China, there has been the tradition of the “model worker” that stretches back to at least 1951 with Hao Jianxiu. This is a commendation that has been given out at both the national and provincial levels. Municipalities, it seems, have been doing something similar with “Good People” streets. In Chinese, it’s 好人街. I have seen this is Danyang and Liyang, and Changzhou has one, too.

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Of course, it wouldn’t be right to talk about the good people of Changzhou without mentioning Ji Zha 季札,Changzhou’s founding father. The rest of the entrants are more contemporary than historical.

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Basically, “good people streets” normally consist of a series of signs that have pictures next biographies.

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Each sign has a QR code that will take you to a webpage that will give you more information on that person. The story, so to speak, that lead them to being featured.

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Of course, the webpages are completely in Chinese. However, Baidu Translate’s camera translation has been getting more and more sophisticated over the years. The other thing to remember, though, is that this is not a “famous person” display. So, besides Ji Zha, you will not find other historical figures like Qu Qiubei, Zhang Tailai, or Yun Daiying here. These are everyday citizens.

These signs can be found along the Grand Canal downtown. It’s in the park that has the Ming Dynasty Wall — which is next to both Comb Alley and the backside of Injoy Plaza.

Don Chicken R.I.P.

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When you are an American expat abroad, your perspectives of food change with the things you experience first hand. This is natural — you get exposed to things you normally wouldn’t see back in The States. For example, Americans like to think we own fried chicken, that we created it, and we do it best. It’s just not debatable. In fact, I would challenge somebody to walk into a dive bar in Georgia, Mississippi, or Appalachia where people have been drinking all night; tell those guys that Koreans can do fried chicken just as well as their grandmothers. It’s not going to end well.

But the truth is: chicken is a robust part of Korean culinary culture — at least internationally, and especially internationally in China. Yeah, KFC is a fried chicken phenomenon in China, but so are the Korean versions of that fast food staple. It’s more than that, actually. There is a Korean chain throughout China that focused more on baking chicken then frying it, and it was pretty damn awesome. I am speaking, of course, about Don Chicken.

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Don Chicken did a few dishes really well. One was baked chicken and cheese. It was beautiful simplicity — you had baked chicken smothered in cheese. That’s it. That’s all. The chicken was so tender and so juicy. Only, it seems a lot of people, myself included, didn’t seem to fully latch onto Don Chicken’s Xinbei presence. It was on a side street near Wanda Plaza and Hohai University. The place now looks like this.

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At first glance, this can be a gut and remodel situation. A lot of Starbucks went through that over the last year. Monkey King in Wujin went through that a few years ago. Only, this really does not look like that. Look at the marquee. The name Don Chicken has been removed. Trully, though, I am at a loss about why this place could not put butts into seats behind tables. It’s in between Wanda and a university. The foot traffic here is fairly large. However, every time I went here, the tables were constantly empty. If it can’t get traffic in this location, I am hard pressed to say where in Changzhou it could.

And now, it seems gone.