March 25, 2009

China (Hefei) December 2005

Few days before when I was talking to Amit about my experiences abroad; he suggested me to write & publish them on blog because it will remain for years unlike memory which will fade in few more years. Hence I wrote about Dubai & now about China.

When I came to know that I have to go to China, I was very excited. I just knew names of two cities Shanghai & Beijing and of course Great Wall of China. I thought I have to go to Shanghai but I received an email saying the place where I have to go for work is called “Hefei”. I never heard of such city. I didn’t even know how to travel there. I sent reply asking for travel advice. That problem was easily solved as they organized my air tickets from China. For the first time I was traveling to such a far off place. The route was Mumbai – Singapore – Guangzhou – Hefei. It took me about 17-18 hours to reach the destination.

For the first time I saw Changi Airport; it was indeed beautiful and well managed. All indications to all the gates on terminal are properly marked. They make sure that you don’t get lost & miss your flight.

After taking connecting flight I reached Guangzhou. Guangzhou airport is a huge building but unlike Changi it was very difficult to find your way to anywhere on the airport. I found many signs were indicating totally wrong places. Somehow managed to reach immigration. After finishing immigration I headed to get the luggage. After waiting at one belt for long time I found my luggage took several rounds of another belt. Rushed to another belt; collected luggage & went to check in again at domestic terminal. Took another flight to final destination Hefei.

I had been told that it will cold in December when I traveled. So I wore bit thick clothes and a jacket to protect myself from cold but I didn’t know the temperature was as low as 0ยบ Celsius. I was freezing when I came out of the airport building. A girl who came to pick me immediately took me to the car where heater was on. It took me about 5-6 minutes to come to normal. On that day I realized the difference between winter in Hefei & winter in Mumbai (I don’t even remember wearing sweater in Mumbai anytime in the year and I don’t have sweater). Very next day I had to buy a good sweater and pair of shoes to beat this cold.

I stayed in China for 2 weeks. Good thing about the stay that I got to eat Indian food everyday from only one Indian restaurant in Hefei. Everyday I received food parcel from that restaurant. Every night we used to go to Authentic Chinese restaurant to have dinner. In those restaurant there were many big round tables having rotating table tops. We had to order one course of meal for every one. They used to keep serving something or the else till you get tired of eating. In that restaurant I saw one cuisine (I think lamb) came in big bowl on burning stove on our table. That was really unique. Here in these restaurants we never used to get spoons or forks; initially we had hard time eating with only chopsticks but now I feel like saying thanks to those people as I learned eating with chopsticks very well even can eat peanut. That’s what I tried every time when I was in China.

One night we went to a Japanese restaurant for dinner I can never forget. The Japanese consultant with whom I was working ordered something from menu. When the dish arrived on his table I saw something under a leaf was moving. I asked him what it is. He answered; that the fish in his dish is still alive & that is the skill of the chef to keep the fish alive till it gets served on table. So inhuman. (My heart shouted). I couldn’t say anything. I still remember that dinner.

I had visited one revolving restaurant in China; that was the first time for me to go to such restaurant. I thought the speed would be as fast as we can see it rotating but nothing such things happened as the rotation was very slow after sitting for 1 hour I couldn’t even understand that something is moving. Compare to this; revolving restaurant in Mumbai is much better.

In China; I went for shopping many times in the evening; souvenirs are very cheap but you have to bargain a lot. Price quoted is almost double than actual. I had 400 Yuan (Chinese Currency) and after doing lots of shopping of small things; more than 200 Yuan were left. Did more shopping on Guangzhou airport and Changi Airport in Duty free shops. ;)

On my way back to Mumbai I stayed for one night in Guangzhou. The hotel was located in main city. Evening I went for stroll near my hotel. I saw one escalator going down from the road. I went to check where it is leading; it was so surprising to see a metro station beneath the road. On the road I couldn’t find any sign either in English or in Chinese says there is a station down. Well, I continued my walk for about 1 hour.

Next day afternoon I board the flight to Singapore & then to Mumbai. Experience on my way back was great as I had 5-6 bags in hand with Chinese Crockery which I carried all the way from Hefei to Guangzhou to Singapore to Mumbai without breaking a single piece. In flight Singapore airlines staff helped me a lot to keep this crockery at safest place possible. At the end; I am thankful to freezing cold, chopsticks, crockery, Chinese people with no English speaking skill and many more things for making my trip unforgettable.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed... your blog gives a sneak peak into chinese culture. Your dining experience (with alive fish in the dish) was something unheard of till date. Very nice details Keep posting.