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Decades, American doctor treated over 50,000 people for free in Yunnan

By : InKunming | Published: 2018-March-1

[InKunming--Interviews & Polls]  Douglas Briggs sat and thought in front of the computer for a while, and finally booked a fly ticket from Kunming to Raleigh on May 30th.

Looking out of the window, every home in Shangri-La Yunnan had already put a big red Chinese character “Fu” on the door to greet the upcoming Lunar New Year. The more bustling the city was, the more solitary Douglas felt deep in heart.

Ding! Douglas’ phone screen lit up. A message reminded online booking was successful, which meant time for this 56-year-old American doctor in China started countdown.

“I wanna go to Kunming, and spend the last Spring Festival with my friends!” Douglas decided.

Departing from Shangri-La and driving along Hangrui high speed way, the wind was blowing Douglas’ gray hair and red cheek, while his mind was going back to twenty years ago.

"I dreamt of coming to Kunming"

On August 22nd, 1995, Douglas, who had already been a doctor for 8 years in America, moved to China with his wife and children.

In the first year, he lived in Tianjin province and studied Chinese at Tianjin University of Technology. There is a Hai river going through the city and normally being frozen during chill winter. “It’s too cold in Tianjin. I watched many pictures of Kunming. I know there are a lot of minorities, and each season there seems like spring. It is not exaggerate to say that my dream was to come to Kunming!” Douglas smiled and said.

His dream became true in just half a year -- the Douglas took the flight landing at Kunming Wujiaba International airport on February 3rd, 1996. But the weather in Kunming made a little joke with him. The Spring City had a rare snow at that night.

“Oops!” Douglas said. “I had never thought it would be so cold in Kunming.”

Snow stopped. He took his 2-year-old son, and his wife held the 3-year-old daughter going to Cuihu Park, Yuantong Zoo and Jindian Park. Later, they went to Xishuangbanna where has a warmer subtropical climate.

Douglas met many Yi people and gave them free treatment in Ninglang, Lijiang, in 2006

The first Chinese New Year’s Eve for Douglas in Yunnan just passed plainly with the opusculum from Spring Festival gala playing on the TV.

He made up his mind to move to Kunming after finishing his Chinese class in Tianjin.

That was a clear and cool day. Douglas and his families took a few large suitcases and moved into Baima community on July 16, 1996.

“On my first day in Kunming, my children and I went downstairs to play. An old man with a long beard sat next to me.” Douglas said with his hands. “The old man asked me (in Kunming dialect), ‘where are you from.’ I thought he was asking my sister. I told him that I don’t have a sister, but he asked again.”

“I have no sister!” Douglas said, laughing out of breath.

This old man made Douglas feel the friendliness of people in Kunming. “In other cities, people often look at me. I say Hello to them and they usually look away.” Douglas said frankly. “But in Kunming, people often smile at me and send greeting to me. They are more ‘natural’ and make me feel comfortable.”

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