My Perception, My Impression and My Experience in China
I had no idea what to expect before my recent first visit to the People’s Republic of China, for a Seminar on Tourism and Environmental Protection, organized by the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China. Like many others, I had my pre-conceptions, and I felt these were right which lo and behold turned out not to be. In all, the experience was simple, fantastic and terrific!
The nearer it got to the date of flying to China, the more excited but nervous I was feeling! Ticking off everything I needed for my training trip, not forgetting my mini bag of gari I finally packed my stuff around mid-night because of office work pressure. When everything was finally done, I smacked kisses on my kids cheeks, squeezed my wife a goodbye and I was gone. I kept panicking in case I forgot something – I have this thing on my way to airport where I think my passport is not with me although I had a vivid memory of giving it to George Kwabena for visa processing !
We took off from Kotoka International Airport (KIA), on the 9th June, 2017 and transited to The United Emirates (Dubai). The trip lasted for 7hrs 40 minutes. The 5 hours transit time at Emirates airport was a mini tourism attraction to me, as I roamed every part of the airport in a photo taking expedition. We finally arrived at Beijing International Airport around 21:45Hrs on 10th June, 2017 and there came another business of the day - photo taking proper. At the baggage collection unit, I was exposed big time before my friends. Because the scanners saw a mini bag on my luggage which was suspicious and I was ordered to open it. When I did, it was a bag of GARI and everybody went into uncontrollable laughter.
After almost three weeks stay in China, I can definitely say that I felt like at home. Of course, China is a big part of my experience. From my first day in the Harbin Crown Plaza Hotel, Holydays Inn in Qingdao and Dalian I felt really welcomed and it was quite easy to settle, although it was my first time in China. The team was super friendly and helpful and made me feel so comfortable from the very beginning.
Looking back at it, I think perhaps that my perception of China was about a century too old. I certainly didn’t expect to see the massive and incredibly modern cities I visited. Beijing is an entity unto itself, its massive size and diversity guarantees that no two people will have the same experience. But that experience was much unexpected for me. I didn’t feel the oppressive boot of the government nor did I feel being under scrutiny, both cultural attributes most Americans assign to Communist countries. No, instead it felt just like any other country, admittedly with some quirks. Although all other cities were equally big and flashy ,Harbin surprised me the most which makes me now believe why so many people call it home. But Harbin also has an older, softer side and spending the evening in what is called the Wanda City arena, I had a surprisingly great night out in that town. This is not the China I had imagined, it was something completely different and incredibly enjoyable.
I hate to say it, but I didn’t expect that everyone I met would be as kind as they were. But it further proves the maxim that everyone almost everywhere is good and decent and that’s certainly true from my brief experience in China. Simple kindnesses, like the stranger who helped me figure out how much something cost in Dalian. While at times there was a language barrier, that wasn’t a major impediment and instead everyone tried their best to help me in any way possible.
China is big and I mean that in every sense of the term possible. Its physical size is daunting and while planning the trip I learned quickly that I could spend a lifetime visiting and not see everything on my list. I was gone for a weeks and I didn’t even scratch the surface of the three provinces I visited. Longer trips are necessary, but even then they would just be spent seeing the core highlights. No, China is a country that demands time and a lot of it over many years. Not only is its size overwhelming, but everything about it is also overwhelming. Cities exist on a scale unlike any other place on the planet.
In all programs and functions that I graced with the organizers, I noted that Chinese people respect time a lot and normal get seated before the start of official function. Lateness and later start of function was never witness during my stay.
Again, African practice of offering prayers before start of official program or function has no space in chinses agenda. Functions get starts when its time and the key officer are seated and ready for it. The three weeks program never made provision for Sunday church services or Friday prayers.
Meals and Food served. In all my stay, food served where clearly marked with ingredients and meat used in preparation. This for me was a good omen, since I had perception before my arrival that Chinese people eat and drink anything. In one of my interactions with Crown Plaza Hotel Restaurant attendant, I requested for Snake and Dog meat and the response I had was that “we don’t serve such meat in an international conferences and programs”. Another perception demystify!
I went to People’s Republic of China with perception, I had my own impression my stay, and came back with my experience and the reality.
XIE XIE (Thank You) Baba Adam