Mosaic of China Season 02 Episode 04 – The Peruvian Healer (Katherine WONG)

Oscar Fuchs
Shanghai is one of those magical places where people can somehow become who they were always supposed to be.
Oscar Fuchs

Shanghai is one of those magical places where people can somehow become who they were always supposed to be. This is what happened to Katherine Wong, who decided one day to quit her job and become a therapeutic healer.

Original Date of Release: 05 Jan 2021.

Mosaic of China Season 02 Episode 04 – The Peruvian Healer (Katherine WONG)


KW: He would actually tell me that if people in China will know what I'm doing, they would hang me like a witch!


OF: Welcome to Mosaic of China, a podcast about people who are making their mark in China. I'm your host, Oscar Fuchs.

Happy New Year everyone, and a special thank you to the first new subscribers of 2021 on Patreon, who get access to the full-length PREMIUM version of the show. Today's shout-outs go to Kristianna Foye, Ian Chang, Matt Conover and Dan Fischl.

While the last episode of 2020 was special in that Chang Chihyun was the substitute for someone who dropped out of Season 2, today's first episode of 2021 is special in a different way. It's with Katherine Wong, who was nominated by someone in Season 1, Angie Wu from Episode 18, and there's a catch-up with Angie at the end of the show. What's special is that Katherine left China in January 2020, and at the time of recording was still stuck overseas. However since she was basically still conducting her 'China life' from there, and was ready to physically return as soon as possible, I fudged the rules and decided that she still counts as being part of the Mosaic in this exceptional year, and we did the interview remotely. There are four of five people in the Season who fit this same criteria, so I've bent the rules for all those guests, just for Season 2. I hope that today's episode will convince you that I made the right decision.

[Part 1]

OF: Thank you so much, Katherine, It's great to see you.

KW: Yes same, same here. It's been a long time.

OF: Yeah, we met about a year ago. And actually it was through our mutual friend Angie.

[Start of Audio Clip]

Angie WU: You should interview Katherine. She's a healer. She's from Peru. And she does workshops on cleansing. It's really good for people who are living in Shanghai, we are always in a very stressful, like, lifestyle. Yeah.

[End of Audio Clip]

KW: She's one of the first friends I met when I came to China. I think it was the same for her. And because she also has some South American background, we started to hang out more and more.

OF: Well, it's great to see you here. You are currently in Peru. Whereabouts are you in Peru?

KW: I'm in a little town called Arequipa. In the south of Peru. It's a very beautiful and touristic city here in Peru.

OF: But you can't see the touristic sites because you're stuck at home still.

KW: No! I can see only the four walls of the house. Actually, we have a very beautiful terrace where I can see the three main volcanoes. So for that, I feel I'm very blessed.

OF: That's completely different to the backdrop we would have had if we were meeting here in Shanghai.

KW: Yeah, completely.

OF: I'm going to have to ask you to take a photo and share it with us, because that sounds so incredible. But the first thing that I would ask you is the same thing I ask everyone, which is, what is the object that you have prepared that in some way explains your life in China?

KW: So this is a quartz. It's a very special quartz because it's a blend of clear quartz and amethyst. Everything has energy in life, including flowers and crystals. So this crystal carries a lot of energy and information. And it has helped me to connect more to myself and the work that I do.

OF: And so what is that work?

KW: So you will call it maybe 'healer'? Some people call it 'light worker'.

OF: Explain what that means, then, what's a 'light worker'?

KW: A light worker is someone who is very connected to his or her higher self, and works with energy… Works with light.

OF: OK, well where do we start with that? Why don't we start with where you are now? Because you come from Peru, but what is your background?

KW: My father, he's Taiwanese. My mother is Bolivian. I was born in Bolivia. But then when I was little, I moved to Peru, so this is where I grew up, in Peru. Peru is in my heart. So I grew up with two different cultures in my life. And then, later in life, I moved to Taiwan to live for a year. And after that, we moved to Central America, in Nicaragua. And after that, I moved to Shanghai, where I thought I was going to be for one year. But now I'm there for already 16 years.

OF: Yeah, it tends to work like that, doesn't it?

KW: Yeah. China has something… a special energy that keeps people there.

OF: Yeah. Well, let's go back to where it began. You mentioned, of course, Peru. My image of Peru is that it has quite a lot of Asian influences, when you compare with other Latin American countries.

KW: I believe Peru has the biggest Chinese society. You can see a lot of Chinese restaurants, you could find maybe two or three Chinese restaurants in one block. The community was quite active. And if you go to Chinatown, then you feel somehow you are like on 南京东路 [Nánjīng dōnglù], a little bit. With different shops and a lot of Chinese. Yeah.

OF: Nice. So it was quite integrated into the Peruvian lifestyle, or do you still feel that you were a strong minority?

KW: I felt a strong association with the Latins. Going to parties, and the sense of humour that people have here.

OF: So now I'm feeling sorry for your Taiwanese father. It sounds like he was the minority in your family.

KW: Yeah.

OF: Well, let's fast forward then to your life in Shanghai. You are, as you would put it, a light healer. Is that something you've known about from the start, and you did that from day one?

KW: Not at all. I really had no idea what energy is. So I had no idea of any of these things to be like, special. My mom, she tells me the story. When I was a little baby, I would cry and cry, nonstop. And she would take me to different doctors. And doctors would tell her that I was fine, there's nothing wrong with me. So then she took me to my grandmother, who used to work with a special way of healing. She comes from a town where the most famous shamans come from in Peru. Her grandfather was a really famous healer, and people would come from other cities just to see him. And she did her magical work on me. And after three times, I just stopped crying. And so, every time I would have something minor, my mum just would take me to my grandmother. And it was like this with me, with my sister, with my cousins… This, for me, was very natural. And then I would have, also, my nanny. Here in South America, it's very common to have a nanny, like an 阿姨 [āyí] who lives with you in your house. And my nanny comes from the jungle, very deep jungle. So if there was anything, she would come with some herbs, and then we would be fine.

OF: That's so interesting to hear, because my background is from a very secular, city lifestyle in Europe. To hear you so casually talking about your grandparents who had a healer in the family, that, to me, is so alien. I hear about Peru in this context quite a lot, you know, with ayahuasca and shamanistic traditions, what is it about Peru?

KW: We have such an old culture with tribes who are still alive. A lot has been lost, but at the same time, a lot has been passed on from generations through generations, up until now. Of course, 10 years ago, some people would call it witchcraft.

OF: Right. Right, and I can assume that your father would have been very sceptical in that case.

KW: Oh yeah totally, totally. That was one of the many things where my mother and my father would not agree on. But even though he would not believe or understand, he would still let my mum or my grandmother do this kind of healing to us…

OF: …Because he would see the results, right?

KW: Yes, he would see the result! And even though he would see the result, the time when I started to do this as work, he would actually tell me that if people in China will know what I'm doing, they would hang me like a witch!

OF: Well, let's jump forward, then, to that time in China. So how did you start doing this?

KW: Well, I came to China to study Chinese for one year, and decided to stay a little bit longer. First, I was working as an interpreter for people from South America. So I was travelling around China helping with the language. And then after this, I worked for seven years for an insurance company as an agent. But then things started to change in the company. You know, I have been really happy for seven years. And then suddenly, things change, and I started to be unhappy. And I was thinking "No, I cannot live like this". And this was something that pushed me to quit my job. And I thought "Oh, maybe I can start charging for the services I have been doing for free". Because I had been doing healing, the healing that my grandmother used to do on me, I used to do it on my baby, I used to do it on my friends' babies. And I started to charge. It felt very strange at the beginning, to charge for something I was giving away for free.

OF: And how do you even know what to charge, right?

KW: Yes. Yeah, it was really, really hard. Of course, I started charging very little. But then you realise it's your time, it's your energy, and it's like going to the doctor. So that's how it started, the service part of my business. And the product part of my business also was born at that time, more or less. It was 2015. And the pollution was extremely bad. And I was thinking "How can I clean the air in my house?" So I started researching, and I found that of course, plants can clean the air, and also beeswax candles. That's when I learned that having paraffin candles in your house can be even more toxic. So I was trying to find beeswax candles in the market. I couldn't find any. I am a flower remedy practitioner, so I thought "Mmm hmm, why don't I create a beeswax candle, and I could infuse them with my flower remedies". So I started to research into beeswax, I started to learn how to make candles. Finally, I found a provider. There are so many fakes, so many.

OF: You bought what you thought was beeswax, but it wasn't beeswax?

KW: Yes. I mean, they sell it as beeswax. You see it's yellow, but it's yellow because they put dye in there. So I found the right provider, the right beeswax, and then that's how it started. Then people started to find me; I started to be interviewed for magazines; I started to be asked to go on talks to tell people what I do… because it's very special and very fulfilling to do something that you really love.

OF: Great. And you mentioned, then, that there was the product side - that's a great example, with the beeswax - what about the service side? What kind of service do you provide?

KW: I am a sound healer, so I work with singing bowls. I work with flower remedies, which is the energy of the flower. We believe - and also in Chinese medicine, they believe - that all illnesses come from emotions that have not been processed well. So flower remedies help with this.

OF: Can I ask you, then, for an example? Like, which particular emotion is healed by which particular flower?

KW: The plants that I work with, they are orchids. And orchids are the most evolved flowers on the planet. I will create blends of different flowers. Maybe you're anxious about something specific, so it will be not the same blend for you than for someone else. Also, I work very intuitively.

OF: Interesting. And what other services?

KW: Ah yeah. So, I do practice what my grandmother taught me, which is 'aura cleansing'. And for the aura cleansing, I use an egg, a raw egg.

OF: A raw egg?

KW: Yeah.

OF: OK, how does that work?

KW: So it's the raw egg. And the client lays down in a massage bed, but I don't do any massage. I pass this egg around the aura of a person. And at the end of the session, I break the egg in a glass of water. And you can see different kinds of shapes. And we are both able to see if the aura was clean, or if there was something bad - like bad energy, or stuck energy - in your aura. My grandmother, she had two cases where somebody was really sick. And when she broke the egg, the egg had a lot of blood inside. And the other one was… the egg almost cooked! The energy of the person was really bad.

OF: Wow. And have you had similar experiences yourself in China? Like, what were the more extreme situations that you've been in, with the aura cleansing?

KW: The egg just breaks in my hand, because the energy of the person is so strong, and so bad, that the egg will just break as soon as it close in contact with the person.

OF: Wow, interesting. And your clients, are they also other Latin Americans who understand this? Or are there people who you are introducing it to, for the first time?

KW: The last year, there has been, maybe, a growth of Chinese people coming to see me. And I find it fascinating, because people who come to me, it's people who are well-educated, and they just realise that money is not everything.

OF: That's great. And so how do you feel that you have changed through this process?

KW: I think the more you do it, the more confident you get.

OF: Right, because your story was a strange one, you had this family background, you didn't really understand it, you didn't really pursue it. And then suddenly, you sort of fell into it. And so I guess, was part of your development just realising "Oh, wait, I can do this. I'm not just pretending."

KW: Yes, exactly. Yeah.

OF: Do you see that there is now more acceptance of this kind of thing, or do you think, in general, your father is still correct?

KW: No, I think, not just in China, but in general, humanity is opening up to this kind of spiritual work. People are using herbs, people are using crystals, people believe in chakras. So this is all a little step, you know, for people's spirituality.

OF: Yeah, I think you are describing my own personal development. Because I am a sceptic, but the more that I expose myself to this kind of thinking, and to people who practice it, the more I am open-minded to it, you know. And I've done some sound therapy with those Tibetan bowls. And I've got a friend who does Reiki healing. And I've done some crystal healing in the past. And each time, I do feel the energy, and I don't know exactly what's going on, I can't articulate how it felt. But I could feel that there was something happening for sure.

KW: Yes, yes. And I think that's the first step for people to start to understand, and awaken.

OF: Thank you so much, Katherine.

KW: Thank you so much, Oscar. I'm really happy to share my story with you.

OF: Let's move on to Part 2.

KW: Let's do it.

[Part 2]

OF: OK, let's jump in. Question one. What is your favourite China related fact?

KW: There is a temple of my ancestors somewhere in 广东 [Guǎngdōng]. So for me, that was very interesting.

OF: And it's specifically your clan?

KW: I believe so, I believe Wongs, they all come only from one line.

OF: OK, Well, when you come back to China, you should make your pilgrimage to 广东 [Guǎngdōng] in that case.

KW: That's really interesting.

OF: Number two, do you have a favourite word or phrase in Chinese?

KW: Yes, it's 旅途愉快 [Lǚtú yúkuài], which is 'Have safe travels'. The first time I heard it, I found it funny. And then I kept using it, not knowing what it means. Until I asked my father what it means. And yeah, it makes sense. I love to travel.

OF: Nice. And did you learn that in Peru? Or did you learn that in China?

KW: I learned that in China.

OF: Oh how funny, so he never taught that to you when you were small?

KW: No, actually, he never talked to us in Chinese when we were small.

OF: Really? Is he happy now that you can speak some Chinese?

KW: He's proud.

OF: Ah. What is your favourite destination within China?

KW: Yunnan. It is beautiful. I feel the energies in that place are really pure and amazing.

OF: Next question. If you left China, what would you miss the most, and what would you miss the least? Now, you've been outside of China for, is it nine months?

KW: Yeah.

OF: So, what do you actually miss the most, and the least?

KW: Online shopping. It's mostly for groceries. It is so easy. So efficient. You get your groceries within one hour. Here, in Peru, there are no such things. So when the pandemic started here, my mother had to call the lady from the little shop to ask "Do you have this? Do you have that?" And if she would say "Yes, I have this bread". "Okay, which brand?" "I have this brand, this brand". So it would take a long time?

OF: Of course. Wow, a great example. And what about the thing that you miss the least?

KW: The fast pace of life? Because when you're there you feel everything is working so fast, and you're sucked in this energy of going fast.

OF: Yeah, there's no escape. Is there anything about life in China that still surprises you?

KW: Change. Change, in terms of how fast there's buildings appearing, or disappearing. In my street, in two or three months, they are, like, four coffee shops. New.

OF: Yeah. So it's gonna be a surprise when you come back to China, to see what's going to be on your street now, right?

KW: Yes.

OF: Well, speaking of coffee shops, where is your favourite place to go out, to eat or drink or hang out?

KW: When I'm with my family, we love to go to Lost Bakery for breakfast. And when it's just me, I love to go to Cafe On Air for work. It's a very cute hidden coffee shop. It's so peaceful.

OF: OK, what is the best or worst purchase you have made in China?

KW: Definitely my 30 kilos of fake beeswax was the worst purchase I've ever made.

OF: 30 kilos.

KW: Yes, I was cheated. They sent me a sample. I approved the sample. And when they sent me all these blocks of beeswax, it was fake. They changed it.

OF: When you're starting a business, you can't afford to lose that much, right?

KW: No.

OF: Wow.

KW: No, I was crying.

OF: Yeah. And how about the best, is there a nice story after that terrible story?

KW: Yeah, I found a good provider, who I have stuck with until today.

OF: Yeah.

KW: Yeah.

OF: OK, now pick up your phone, and send me your favourite WeChat sticker.


OF: OK, the miracle of technology. I have received it, from Peru to Shanghai.

KW: Yeah, I love this sticker because it describes the feeling of excitement and happiness that I have sometimes.

OF: And so what is this from? Do you have… It looks like it's from a movie. Can you explain what they're wearing?

KW: They look like ballerinas. From the 70s.

OF: I'm actually drawn most to the one right at the back. And she is concentrating very, very carefully.

KW: I didn't see her.

OF: I've got a little bit mesmerised there. What is your go-to song to sing at KTV?

KW: I've stopped going to KTV for so long. But, at home, John Legend: "All Of Me".

OF: Oh nice. Oh so that's quite a sensual song really.

KW: Yes.

OF: Are you a romantic Latin type after all?

KW: I am.

OF: Ah, there you go. And finally, what other China related media or sources of information do you rely on?

KW: I am not a person who reads news. But if I read something, it will be from 'The Shanghaiist'. They have funny news.

OF: Yeah, I don't think anyone's mentioned The Shanghaiist before. Yeah, they do a good job.

KW: Yeah, very entertaining.

OK: Well, thank you so much, Katherine, you've also been very entertaining. Before I say goodbye, tell me who out of everyone you know in China, would you recommend that I interview for Season 3 of mosaic of China?

KW: Definitely Alizée. She is a very special person. She's the founder of Zero Waste Shanghai.

OF: Zero Waste, OK.

KW: It's a movement that is growing, I think, everywhere in the world right now.

OF: Yeah. Well, Katherine, it's been a pleasure. Thank you for calling me all the way from Peru. I think it's close to midnight now where you are, so I will let you go to bed.

KW: Thank you. I'm very grateful.


OF: So, the most important news is that Katherine is back in China! She arrived in November, got out of quarantine in December, and has settled back into Shanghai life in January, just in time for this episode to be released. Congratulations Katherine. The second most important thing is to play the excerpts from the PREMIUM version of today's episode, and I promise if you listen to the full version, you will never look at a guinea pig in the same way…

[Clip 1]

KW: I think I've had the longest quarantine in the world.

[Clip 2]

OF: And then just as we were talking about your father, in he comes!

[Clip 3]

KW: So the guinea pig was used as an X-ray.

[Clip 4]

OF: I'm nervous now. Please don't draw the death card.

KW: Breathe deeply.

[End of Audio Clips]

OF: And the third most important thing is that we didn't actually mention the name of Katherine's brand, which is 'The Andean Apothecary'. You can find out all about it at

For help with how to spell that, just find us on social media, we're on @mosaicofchina_* on Instagram, or @mosaicofchina on Facebook and WeChat. And it's there where you can also find lots of images to accompany today's show: there's some of Arequipa, the city in southern Peru where Katherine was stuck for 11 months; her favourite WeChat sticker, the dancers with the big... personalities; photos of her family, including her younger sister; and one of her nanny in her hometown in the Amazon carrying a whole termite mound home to feed to her chickens. 'Cafe On Air' is there as one of her favourite hangouts, which incidentally was also the favourite hangout of Lissanthea Taylor, the pain management expert from Season 01 Episode 28; Katherine's favourite China-related information source, Shanghaiist, which actually appears to be on hiatus right now; and a graphic on 旅途愉快 [lǚtú yúkuài] which does translate into English as 'happy travels,' but I'm much more likely to use the French phrase 'Bon Voyage'. Maybe that's because we don't really have a good phrase for this in English, or maybe it's because I'm pretentious.

Mosaic of China is me, Oscar Fuchs, with artwork by Denny Newell. Coming up is the short version of my catch-up interview with Angie Wu from Episode 18 of Season 01, and I'll see you again next week.

[Catch-Up Interview]

OF: Hello, Angie.

AW: Hello. It's actually really nice to see you again. It's been a while.

OF: Yeah. I wanted to have this chance to catch up with you, and for us to see what has happened to you since we did our recording.

AW: So I went to Boracay on the 17th of January for a kitesurfing trip, like we usually do with my ex boyfriend - now the ex boyfriend, he was my boyfriend still at that time - so we landed on the 17th of January, we were supposed to stay two weeks. Then COVID happened, so I stayed for two months.

OF: Oh, wow.

AW: My ex boyfriend's visa was expiring - his Chinese visa - I knew that, so I told him "Let's go back to China" because it's… China is safe already, around the middle of February. And he was like "No, no, no, it's too dangerous." He decided to stay, and there's no way you can convince him otherwise, when he's convinced of something you cannot change him. So what happened is that… I went alone.

OF: OK. And then now, here you are. So it's now been since March that you've been in Shanghai, what's been your life like since then?

AW: I got out of 'jail' on the 11th of April, I moved back to my apartment. And my life began. And this has been the best year of my life in Shanghai, for the last 15 years.

OF: Oh, wow.

AW: Because I finally had a break. My business was slow. For the first time in 15 years, I had a chance to relax, meet my friends, eat on time, sleep enough. I was having the best time of my life.

OF: Did you create a new collection?

AW: I have really amazing collections coming up. But they're not my priority anymore. Work is not my priority anymore. I reset my priority of life.

OF: Interesting. I think that's what I can visibly see with you. You have a lightness about you, which perhaps I didn't see last year. I hope that people listening will also see the light at the end of the tunnel that, you know, that obviously you have come out of it a completely different person.

AW: I really feel compassionate and sorry about all the people in the world. Because my parents are stuck in Montreal, they are going through a second lockdown, alone. So we are really lucky in Shanghai, and there's not one day I'm not grateful for everything that's happening in my life. But at the same time, I do feel sorry for the world and hope everyone can get something good out of this experience, something that enlightens them, or something that makes them pursue a better life.

OF: Yes. Thank you so much, Angie, it's been great to see you again.

AW: Thank you very much for having me.

*A different Instagram handled was mentioned in the original recording. That handle is now obsolete, and the updated handle has been substituted.

Mosaic of China Season 02 Episode 04 – The Peruvian Healer (Katherine WONG)

Oscar Fuchs: Creator, Producer and Host of the Mosaic of China podcast

Oscar Fuchs was the Co-Founder and Managing Director of a global executive search firm dedicated to the Human Resources profession. He was born in the UK and has lived in Asia for 18 years, including 3 years in Hong Kong SAR, and 7 years in mainland China. In 2019 he sold his company, and launched Mosaic of China.

In China, the podcast can also be found at 苹果播客, 小宇宙 and 喜马拉雅.

Internationally, it can also be found at Apple, Spotify, and all other podcasting platforms.

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