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Exploring the wonders of a Chinese city


From the National Museum to the historical Great Wall of China,there are many fond memories of Beijing

By Sammy Awami



   Fifteen minutes after the gunshot scare at the airport,the five of us had regrouped,and boarded a car that whisked us away to downtowm Beijing.Amid the astonishment at the wonders of the city,the big part of the trip was dominated by 'what if'stories.And as we approached the city,our host started tipping us on how to enjoy our stay in Beijing.We all could not resist contrasting the amazing city with our own Dar es Salaam.
   One of the obvious features of Beijing is its vastness and large distances between locations.So,drving from the airport to the hotel is quite a distance.One of us had never been outside Tanzania,and she was so honest about it.
   So,we were not surprised to see her opening her mouth wider and wider in amazement as we passed through flyovers,navigated the wide roads,and apreciated the cleanliness of the city.
   At the hotel,I came to realise it wasn't just the passengers I had met in the plane who could not speak English.Apart from the few top hotel managers,the rest of the attendants could hardly sustain a conversation in English.
   I counted not more than five attendants who could converse in English.Mind you ,this is a five-star hotel.My thoughts quickly drifted back home where we have a similar challenge.The same excuse that we can't speak'proper'English.
   Site visits
   We quickly made oursevlves comfortable,and soon enough we were given our itinerary for the four days we were going to be in Beijing.It was tight!Lecture after lecture,meeting after meeting and a few site visits.
   Our first site visit was to the National Museum.Located to the eastern side of Tiananmen Square,the museum covers the entire Chinese history from the Yuanmou   Man of 1.7million years ago to the end of the QingDynasty(the last imperial dynasty),and has a permanent collection of 1,050,000items.
   As we walked through the unending museum,guess what I spotted on the wall,a picture of Tanzanians and Chinese during the construction of the Tazara railway.I couldn't help but unfold the widest smile.If you ever wanted to understand how symbolic this railway is to Sino-Tanzania relations,then this museum is the place to go when you are in Beijing.
   The nightlife
   I was determined to find out about the Beijing nightlife.So,we asked around and got what piece of tip we could,and on the second day, we boarded a taxi and headed to a nightclub.
   With the non-English speaking taxi driver,we relied on the meter to get a fair charge.The meter showed us the distance we had covered and the money we were supposed to pay.Who would't love Beijing?I mean,if the taxi driver won't cheat you,probably no body will!
   I always knew that the Chinese are fond of their culture,and I was expecting to find this fondness in their nightclubs too.But to my surprise,for the two hours I sat around sipping at my orange juice,no Chinese music played.It was all about Justin Bieber,Rihanna,then Jay Z and later Lil Wayne.
   A visit to the Great Wall
   Towards the end of our stay in Beijing,we went to see the monumental Great Wall of China.It was one of the most famous features I had seen on TV and read about in books on China.The visit meant a lot to me.
   Extending some 2,400km from Kansu province to the Yellow Sea north of Beijing,the fortified wall was built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China,in part,to protect the Chinese Empire or its prototypical states against intrusion by various nomadic groups or military incursions by various warlike people or forces.
   But while Beijing made an impression upon us as an introduction to China,it was Shanghai that stole our hearts.It was Shanghai that made us fall in love with China.Watch this space next week!



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