6 Apr 2013
When the U.S was bickering with France over the invasion of Saddam’s Iraq, Donald Rumsfield (then U.S defence secretary) told France that it belonged to ‘old Europe’ and that the center of gravity was moving east. Even though the context in which he was talking was different, I can now agree with him after visiting a couple of Asian countries and China in particular that the center of gravity is truly moving east. My first visit to China was in 2003 and my second ten years later revealed a China that has undergone tremendous transformation.
The developmental changes taking place in China are breathtaking and China is really poised to overtake the U.S as the number one economic power sooner rather than later. The changes are such that even Chinese themselves express surprise.
We did visit Shanghai, Macau and Guangzhou. Shanghai is like the New York of the east with its high-rise buildings and sophisticated infrastructure that makes the city a pace setter for the rest of China. During our stay in Shanghai, we paid a visit to the village of Tongli (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tongli) and also took a walk around the old city of Shanghai with its traditional Chinese architecture. We visited the Bund, climbed up the Oriental Pearl Tower and also attended a live acrobatic show.
My Colleagues and some China based friends.
Video: Walking on glass floor on Oriental Pearl Tower http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6vE0cqTJl0
Video: View of Shanghai from Oriental Pearl Tower: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EMfZXQRpT4
Some images of Shanghai at this link
Macau is in a special category of its own. This former Portuguese colony of 500,000 people has the same status as Hong Kong. The two territories are undergoing a 50 year transition period before completely being integrated into China. While gambling is illegal in China, Macau has the largest casino in the world and 70% of Macau’s gov’t income comes from taxes derived from gambling houses. Even though Macau is politically part of China, she still maintains the attributes of a sovereign state and mainland Chinese actually need visas to go to Macau and vice versa. The enclave is very rich and unemployment is almost none existent. Macau with its population of half a million reportedly receives 28million visitors annually. Unforgettable experiences: Having dinner on the Macau Tower and being mesmerized by the thousands of people gambling on the floor of the Venetian casino (the biggest in the world).
Link to images of Macau
On our trip from Macau to Guangzhou, we passed through the city of Shenzhen. Thirty five years ago, Shenzhen was said to be a remote fishing village of some 3000 people. Today, it is an ultra modern city with 10 million inhabitants and has the highest standard of living in China. Shenzhen’sper capita GDPtops $20,000 (more than three times the national average of $5,500). See images of Shenzhen at this link. https://www.google.com/search?q=shenzhen&hl=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=tUFcUeKcFIbkOpnAgYAH&sqi=2&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=652
From Macau to Shenzhen is about 70 km by boat and Shenzhen to Guangzhou is about 110 km by bus. I did not notice any community along our way that was living under miserable conditions and I did not see any slums attached to the Chinese cities we visited as you will readily see in many parts of the world.
Guangzhou (pop 13-15 million) is China’s city with the highest number of black Africans who are mostly involved in business. Click link to read more about Africans in Guangzhou http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africans_in_Guangzhou
Like the previous cities we visited, Guangzhou has an impressive network of roads and an efficient metro (underground railway system). Since we had a longer time to be inGuangzhou, I took advantage of the spare time to visit some parks while my colleagues were shopping. I had the privilege to visit the ChimelongParadiseand Xiangjiang Safari Resort which is China’s version of World Disney. I went there and rode in the dive roller coaster and swore never to relive that scary experience again.
Video: Dive coaster http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmQd8Indblk
Images of Chimelong Paradise at link below.
And images of Xianjiang Safari resort
I also visited Yuexiu park and Baiyun Mountain resort. For lovers of nature, Yuexiu park is one of the places you need to visit while in Guangzhou. It is a large park with forest, lakes and lots of other attractions that will make it a sure destination for all city dwellers. Images
Baiyun Mountain or White Cloud Mountain is another tourist destination in its own category. Thousands of locals go up there every day. You either chose to climb on foot for hours or you take a ride on an open minivan (which we did). Apart from the beautiful flora you see along the way, you also have the opportunity to have a panoramic view of parts of Guangzhou. http://www.gz.gov.cn/publicfiles/business/htmlfiles/gzgoven/s9226/201104/800200.html
We came down by cable car and went to Yuntai garden at the foot of the mountain. Yuntai garden is a must see for anybody that loves flowers. This is certainly one the best flower gardens in the world. Video of Yuntai garden http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WXJ1OGimMQ
Throughout our visit that lasted 12 days, I found the Chinese to be friendly. Generally I found many of them to be shy and they rarely display their emotions overtly. The main handicap for visitors to China is usually their inability to speak or write Chinese. Very very few Chinese understand English and for you to enjoy your stay here you need somebody that can act as a guide and translator. I was lucky to have Mbah Osmond who sacrificed four days to make my solo tour in Guangzhou enjoyable.
China has come a long way and has defied all expectations and is moving ahead like an unstoppable economic juggernaut. Many people are yet to come to terms with the fact that China is soon to be the number one economic power. At least 2 of the world’s top three banks are Chinese and Chinese tourists are currently world’s biggest spenders. They spent $102bn in 2012 beating the Germans and Americans who traditionally held the top positions.
It is a praiseworthy feat for a China that has attained this status without a historical past that is associated with enslaving or colonizing others.
Our group of thirty was mostly made up of Cameroonian based pharmacists and some of their spouses and was coordinated by UBIPHARM Cameroun.
You can read other travel related articles at this link http://www.njeitimah-outlook.com/page/page/2076041.htm
Njei Moses Timah