Cheers to China

Cheers is a synonym for success, celebration and achievement. With a
population of 1.3 billion, a GDP of 6 trillion, the country that scooped over
100 medals in the last Olympics, an enduring ancient civilization and the only
successful surviving communist country, all which of which makes China a
celebrity nation.
It’s not just a curious traveller like me who
wants to visit China, but this has now become a culture for most newly elected
politicians back home from India to make an official honeymoon trip to china, to
witness the growth and development there.

Fair enough, if at all India needs to evaluate its progress then
we must benchmark ourselves against China than any other country, especially
being our immediate neighbor, China being part of the BRIC economy and
population as huge as itself. Therefore the investment on politicians going to
China on official tours is still worthwhile, as that will make them realize what
their respective state / constituency can attain.

China was never on Indians’ travel list for decades and the
military threat was very much real. However the fact is that India is one of the
9 countries that surround China on land and hence Chinese military is well
stretched to its limits. On its part China is aware that it needs to have a good
relationship with its neighbors to maintain its pace and focus on development.

Not surprisingly there is now a steady stream of travellers from India and
the Gulf as well. UAE is now well connected with both Beijing and Shanghai by
Etihad and Emirates airlines. Emirates has now deployed its Airbus 380 to these
cities to handle the ever-increasing volume of travellers.

The country is huge in every sense of the word, be in economic,
population, resources and political power. One might need several weeks to cover
the country but a visit to the two of the most important cities will give a
visitor a glimpse of what the nation stands for and symbolizes.

While Beijing is a reflection of its tradition, Shanghai demonstrates
modernity. Once you have worked out your budgets and locations it is best to do
the tours through the local travel and tour companies who have good
English-speaking guides and those tour groups very well cover the important
locations and is cost effective.

Amongst important locations in Beijing were the Great Wall (Badaling area),
Ming tombs, the Forbidden City, Tianmen Square, The Temple of Heaven and these
are a must-see. Whilst in Shangai the bund (the cornice of China), the Jade
Buddha temple, the Oriental Pearl Tower, Nanjing Road, the Yuyuan Garden, Xin
Tian Di, the Museums can inspire awe and wonder.

The Shangai aquarium and the Shangai Zoo with the endangered Pandas might be
of interest to the children. The tour guides also covered the factories and show
rooms of silk, jade, pearl, tea, Chinese medicine and these can be entertaining
and education. As a country China is now not just a backyard production house,
but a highly motivated marketer.

It might also be worth exploring the underground train network to
see the way people commute, behave, communicate and witness their well-developed
civic sense. I was also astonished with the respect that Chinese have towards
the tourists which is something that we in India need to usher in, with urgency.

The pride of Shangai, the Maglev train which reaches speeds of 430 kmph is an
experience and covers 30 kms from the airport to the city in about 7 minutes is
a worth the travel. There are over a 100 malls in each of the city and shopping
can be both low-end and high-end depending on one?s choice.

Ensure that you travel to China with an empty suitcase if you
intend to shop. Bargain is possible in the low-end malls, shops and there is
indeed a wide choice. The food can be a challenge to some, while can be a
delight for Chinese food-lovers besides there are scores of western fast food
outlets every corner including KFC?s, Macdonald.

In the run up to the 2008 Olympic games and post-games China has conducted a
national-level drill to handle tourists professionally and created an
infrastructure to match the growing influx of tourists. As one report states
that government of China itself owns the franchise for MacDonald?s nationwide.

The affluence of the Chinese is increasing and the amount of luxury cars in
China are growing as it is regarded as a great status symbol. Both Beijing and
Shanghai have an average population of 20+ million and therefore a major impact
can be on cars. Therefore the government restricts the use of personal cars for
4- 5 days in a week to control the traffic.

It is not just that the
world is visiting China but the Chinese are travelling around the world as well.
Every major city in the world has a China Town, one in every 5th person in the
world is a Chinese, at least one gadget, cloth or toy in your house will be made
in China and this is what made me to visit China and say in acknowledgement
?Cheers to China?.

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Author: Oneal Hector DCunha- Abu Dhabi