Tales of China’s vastness, technology and beautiful culture

Travelling, especially to a new country is a dream for many. Last year, I had a chance to visit the world’s most populous country- The People’s Republic of China.

Being the second-largest economy in the world, there is a lot to admire about China, as I came to discover.

There is a Kinyarwanda proverb that says “Ijoro ribara uwariraye,” which loosely translates to ‘You can only describe an experience if you’ve lived it.’

The author with Air China employees who visited Rwandan Pavilion during an exhibition event.

The only one who has ever visited a populous country can testify to the beauty of being amassed in such vastness; the culture, lifestyle, economy, politics, and beliefs, among other aspects, were all new- especially for someone like me coming from a country with a population of only 12 million.

I was so curious about new discoveries and this trip turned out to be a historical one for me.

My first days in China

After a long journey of 10 hours from Addis Ababa International Airport, I finally reached Beijing International Airport on February 21st last year.

The weather was so cold because it was in the winter season.

The author learns how to write Chinese characters.

The most impressive thing I noticed was how everything in Beijing revolved around technology. Everything is digital. Moving from one place to another needs navigation, even booking for hotels or buying trains and flight tickets, and other services are done online and this being my first time in the city, this was a challenge.

At the time, I could not say any word in Chinese except, “Ni hao,” (hello or hey). My first three weeks in Beijing were hence thrilling and puzzling at the same time.

Shopping and transport

Shopping is mainly done online through ‘WeChat.’ I have never purchased anything online, this is why the first time was so exciting for me.

A colleague of mine from Tonga from Asia Pacific Country helped me open WeChat Pay account that was later linked to my Chinese bank account and despite the language difficulties, I finally made it when I ordered for goodies on Taobao and received them within 3 days.

The writer with a Rwandan traditional dance troupe in China.

Transportation services are all app-based – these include taxis, private cars and communal rides. Because of this, transport services are easy, convenient and reliable.

Visitors are widely advised to learn the Beijing Map for their guidance and safety.

The ‘love island’

Touring some of China’s provinces, cities, and cultural sites as well as attending cultural events was very impressive and helpful in terms of understanding China for the 10 months I stayed there.

However, a visit to China’s man-made island of Sanya was the highlight of it all. It is a souvenir I will hold onto for the rest of my life.

The writer poses for a photo with Chinese and African friends during a visit to Sanya city in Hainan province.

Located in China’s Hainan province, Sanya nicknamed as ‘love island’ is an international tourist destination known to host international events such as Miss World, international music festivals among other big events.

Sanya is unique for its good environment, quality air and good food among other things that make the stunning island very special. The place is said to harbour people who are known to live for many years- at least over 1000 people who live at the island are over 100 years.

Great Wall of China

I had only learnt about the Great Wall of China at school, it was more like a dream to see the world’s longest defensive fortification with my own eyes.

The wall is a series of fortifications in a variety of complex designs. There are several scenic spots of the Great Wall and Badaling is the most famous.

In 1987, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designed the Great Wall a World Heritage site. It is recognised as one of the most impressive architectural feats in human history.

The author in Chinese traditional attire.

More modern premises like Great Wall Palace are in place at the Badaling for the visitors to relish.

The big crowds at the place indicated how famous and historic the place is.

Language and culture

China has one of the oldest writing systems, this is why the characters of the Chinese alphabet seem challenging to master. It was, therefore, no small feat for me to pass the Hanyu Shuiping Koashi (HSK) translated as the Chinese Proficiency Test used in China.

HSK is the standardised test of standard Chinese language proficiency of China for non-native speakers such as foreign students.

About the Chinese culture in general, I observed that smoking is popular among Chinese people of all ages. Chinese also do not use sugar with tea but instead, put it in some food. They like spiced food a lot.

People in China love their culture and are very patriotic and hard working. They also like eating traditional food such as Beijing duck.


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