I have always meant to write my full experience in China, since the day I landed in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Subsequently Hong Kong, Thanks to the Huawei Seeds For The Future Program, but trust me a lot has been happening and I literally had to force the time to make this day come through.
I will be running a lot of issues since my tour to China where I feel its going to be very important to share expectations and experience from the far East country esp for those who have not been and are planning to go to China.
The articles will look into issues of e-commerce system, we chat, communication, ban of social networks, emerging opportunities, trading tips and relations, identifying fake gadgets, culture and racial issues amongst others.
Infact,I will start from the flight experience, ours was a long and painful 14hour flight. Harare to Johannesburg, OR Tambo to be specific, where if its your first time, then the difference compared to Air Zimbabwe will not leave you just wowed but troubled.
To be just blunt, comparing Air Zimbabwe Airport to OR Tambo is equal to comparing Mbare Musika bus terminus and Johannesburg Park station service respectively. The only difference is that you are getting road service while service delivery, customer service, and more importantly the infrastructure investment.
Let me drift away a bit, I am not sure if our well traveled authorities ever take notice of this difference when they travel outside, or its nothing but a holiday well spent. We have failed to at least imitate latest airport setups, to an extent that once you land in Beijing or Hong Kong Airport, you can not help but wonder.
Their airports are as big as half our capital city CBD, where you need in house shuttle trains to locate your next connecting flight or exit point, while almost everything is automated and flawless without human intervention.
This also provides serious business opportunities for the locals as they have plenty in stores and service provision supported by unlimited free Wi-Fi and clean facilities.
Ofcourse the major reason is simply because these are international airports which receive frequent traffic, hence the plan was to make sure they accommodate them with a bigger vision for growth , which is one thing we obviously lacked.
Lets look at our road system, currently the local authorities , has been grappled with traffic issues causing serious congestion, forcing some traditional roads to be turned into one way system. This is a clear example of poor planning, when these roads or streets were made, they was no projection or vision of growth since way back in the Salisbury days. The same expected traffic of the Rhodesian days has been maintained, a sure sign that we have been sleeping on it.
Lets talk about traffic in China, bearing in mind that this is a billion population, Zimbabwe is only a meager 13 million and Beijing the capital city is bigger than our nation yet you don’t experience such traffic issues.
If my statistics are accurate, China alone has almost the same population of the whole African continent being managed by one President and political system and has rapidly grown in the past 30 years from an undeveloped nation to developed.
Traffic in Beijing or Shenzhen where I stayed is well managed. Yes you will find rush hours which are painfully slow, but in most cases, its only a matter of millions of cars trying to leave city center after hours or entering during peak hours, which is inevitable.
I think a major point for take away is just prior planning. The roads in China are so wide to accommodate four to five way, traffic, they knew they have big numbers and it took authorities to create wider main roads first, hence increase production instead of wasting time in traffic jams.
The other important factor is functioning system that rarely needs human interference. Have you noticed that half the time our CBD, traffic lights or (robots) are never functional. Why is that so, why is that there are certain known robots like the Julius Nyerere and Jason Moyo, Nyerere and Samora, ZBC Simon Mazorodze, you name them.
This habit of running dysfunctional systems and getting comfortable with it is an African cancer that needs to be uprooted from the nucleus. We can’t allow such as normalcy, why cant traffic lights just function as traffic lights?
Here is another major brainier, Have you noticed that every time when it rain Harare traffic is in a mess, the whole CBD literally shuts down with snail pace traffic that really tests your patience. What happens to our traffic lights when it begins to rain, Even little showers turn off Harare, are they not waterproof?
China has rough and Tough Drivers.
After driving through our Kombi drivers and taxis during peak hours or Mshika shika (tough rush hours) one would think Zimbabwean drivers are the worst in driving style and patience, and failure to adhere to basic road rules.
Well, I have news flash , ordinary Chinese drivers are worse than Zimbabwean kombi drivers, trust me. I thought I had a tough skin behind the wheels but not till I tested the Beijing drivers.
They squeeze in anyway impossible, they cut corners, they blast hooters and amazingly, they never stop to shout at each other, its their life , they are so calm when they do that and they call it kung fu driving.
Enter Sub-Way System
Besides the hard and tough driving on the roads, if you really get sick of it they is a completely different world and way to get to work without all these hustles, the Chinese have a perfect Sub way system.
Its difficult to explain how the subway works from a Zimbabwean perspective because all we know is probably the dysfunctional, Ruwa, Budiriro and Dzivarasekwa-Mufakose train system, but just throw that away to try and understand the subway system.
Imagine you go to our railway station, but this time its underground, you are at CBD and you want to travel to Ruwa, Borrowdale or Kuwadzana. Every 5minutes they would be such a train, which uses a certain lane called green lane, while Borrowdale route uses red lane and Chitungwiza uses blue lane. It seems clearer and easy but wait, what if you are told you need four trains to reach Epworth.
Basically you should mark your boarding point and have a map of your route, especially if your are new, technically the train from Harare to Chitungwiza will go straight but if you are going to Msasa, Hatfield or Waterfalls you may need two or more trains that connect from one point to the other, though at almost the same cost.
Lets say you are going to Epworth, you need a Chitungwiza train that drops you at Waterfalls, then you connect to one going through Masasa to Ruwa but you should drop off at Msasa to finally connect to Epworth
Its not only quick and swift, but its very well organized, automatically timed, efficient, way faster than roads while it’s the cheapest mode to travel to and from CBDs for anyone who is really time conscious.
Surprisingly, even the rich and wealthy in China also use these subway trains, It’s the official mode of transport for those who mean business in China and want to get things done properly and in time
Time is everything
Speaking of time, the Chinese know their time very well, for record sake I missed three breakfasts at my hotel coz I joined not more than 5 minutes later. They say we clear up at 10am and you are there at 10:05 the dishes are gone!
The subway is expected at 12pm sharp and be there at 12:03 its gone! You agree to meet a taxi driver outside and you take 5 more minutes he goes to the next client. Life is way too fast in China! Thankfully there are many more subways trains like one every 5minutes. They don’t have all the time we waste. They say there is no hurry in Africa, true but in China, you snooze you loose.
The Weather is Horrible
Last but not least is the Weather in summer! I am yet to have a winter experience which I hear is more scary, especially due to pollution and related disease, hence probably not a good time to visit the East.
I hear in winter dark charcoals pollute the air as billions try to keep themselves warm, ultimately, forcing many to walk around wearing face masks in search of fresh clean air.
However their summer does not come in kind, China is so so hot!
We Visited both Beijing and Shenzhen in the same month of June, though they say Shenzhen, is better I did not see any difference, it felt worse in fact.
China in summer is literally a humid land, The air is dry and you rarely see the direct sun rays but you certainly feel the warm dry air that slowly cuts thorough your skin and begs for heavy perspiration to keep you cool.
Basically every house hold has an Air conditioner, You cant survive in China if your house does not have Aircon, apparently even the lowest life in China from supermarkets and security booths all have their special confinement in artificial cold air.
This is where one would miss the natural cool and fresh breeze from Africa, no Aircon just real natural fresh oxygen in and outside buildings.