You know your day is not going according to plan when you find yourself horizontal in a dentist's chair in a village outside of Beijing round about sundown.
That's exactly what happened to me yesterday. There I was, sitting down in a salon to get my nails done, happily chewing on a piece of cinnamon gum, when all of a sudden there was a big CRUNCH in my mouth. The last thing you want to hear while chewing gum is CRUNCH! I took the gum out of my mouth, and sure enough, a piece of molar had decided to detach itself from a filling.
The young man who was helping me looked at it and said, with no particular surprise or concern, "That's your tooth! What color do you want? "Yes, I replied,"it's my tooth. How about purple."
With no pain and no blood I decided to press on with the task at hand (pardon the pun) and my plans to meet a couple of friends for at Element Fresh, one of our favorite eateries in Beijing. I ordered the softest thing I could find on the menu — macaroni and cheese! It was divine, even if only one side of my mouth was able to enjoy it.
After lunch I set about finding a dental clinic that had an opening on a Saturday afternoon. The only one had an opening was the United Family Hospital Dental Clinic in Shunyi. "Come at 5," they said, and "we'll squeeze you in at the end of the day."
Making the appointment was easy; getting there was another story. Shunyi is a suburban district of Beijing out near the airport. Previously an area of villages, farms, and light industrial factories, it is now also home to much of the expat community of Beijing, who live in gated luxury villa compounds that exist alongside the small factories and villages. This clinic is in a small "strip mall" near a group of villas, and of course the taxi driver had no clue where it was.
Using my trusty cell phone and the directions given by the receptionist we finally vectored our way to the clinic. All along the way he kept asking me why I had to go to a dentist in Shunyi….why didn't I just go to the #1 Dental Hospital in town? I ignored the question because I didn't know how to say Novocaine!!! One hour and 100 kuai later, we landed. The staff were relieved and threw me into the chair.
The kind dentist who was most likely extending his working day got to work filling the gaping hole. An hour later I was on my way home.
Nothing like starting things off with a Bang! Or should I say a CRUNCH!