(Visited in 2008)
China: A Childhood Dream
(NOTE: Click on Photos to Enlarge)
Decades back when I was a child, my uncle used to buy a glossy Urdu magazine “China ba Tasveer” (China Pictorial) published by the government of China. I wouldn’t understand much in it but its vividly coloured pictures are still alive in my memory. Lush green scenery, bright faced, healthy & smartly dressed Chinese people; it was all too fascinating for me. Then as I grew and joined college, I came across a book “Chaltey ho to Cheen ko Chaliyae” (Wish to travel? Visit China!) by the oldest and one of the most famous Urdu travel writers Ibne Insha. It was very inspiring and became the basis for my desire to read more travel books and travel myself; though travelling to China still didn’t occur to me. Later I met a young man from my town that had travelled to China via Silk Route using road transport. He shared some of his memories giving me dreams, though no resources & no chance yet!
The year is 2008, I receive a job offer from a Chinese Telecom company. Job is very attractive and so is salary but the company?? I am a little hesitant; I had worked for many international companies in the past but never with a Chinese one. With some caution I accept, consequently getting an opportunity to with Chinese people & explore their culture. Ultimately I visit China in 2008. Believe me it was an invaluable experience; looking back I have no regrets, rather a pleasure! Chinese are just unique in every aspect, be it appearance, food, habits, language or culture. On the whole they are very hospitable, patient, wise and hardworking nation. Having said that, like any other nation, Chinese too carry some traits that can be improved. I would like to share my thoughts & experiences with you.
So Who are Chinese?
Simply put, Chinese are the Oldest, Biggest & Richest nation on earth:
– The Biggest Nation with 1.32 Billion citizens; 20% of the world’s population is Chinese
– 93% of Chinese people are Hans Chinese; the biggest ethnic group on the planet
– China has 3rd largest land area after Russia and Canada
– Chinese claim to be the oldest civilization on earth
– Chinese currency is Renminbi (abbreviated as RMB) and one unit is Yuan.
– China holds 3 Trillion US dollars, the biggest reserve US $ reserve in the world, even more than USA. After seeing the economic crisis, China has started buying gold and other currencies to diversify its reserves.
– There is one party political system based on Communism, though it has turned into Capitalism since 1970s practically speaking. Communist party is in ruling since 1949 when China was declared as People’s Republic.
– Even though the Communist government encourages atheism, there are five recognized religions in China today: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestant Christianity. Ancestor worship is a daily practice for many.
– Confucianism, not a religion though, remains a major element of the Chinese value system.
All the team is going to China for a month, we were informed! The team consisted of few Chinese, Swedish, an Italian and me humble Pakistani. I applied for visa and was granted a 6 month multiple entry. Soon I was preparing my bags excitedly!
To be continued..Read Part 2 Here