A famous hadith emanates from the holy mouth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “If necessary, go to the distant land of China to acquire knowledge.” However, this hadith does not pass the standard of purity. Yet the meaning of this saying is significant and can be understood only by visiting China. Among the few countries that I had the opportunity to visit before traveling to China, the experience of traveling to China is diverse and significant in many ways.
Considering the context of human resources, land, and political culture, the current position of China is undoubtedly essential in the world environment. In this era of globalization, the country still maintains its political ideology. Despite the fall of communism in Russia, China still holds its communist flag firmly in hand. One-fifth of the world’s population lives in China. China is the size of Europe and one of the oldest civilizations in the world. There are no political parties, as everyone believes in only one political ideology. Everyone is thinking about the development of the country. They believe that the development of the country means their personal development. The sense of patriotism has made the people honest and hard-working; thus, China is running towards the pinnacle of evolution daily. I did not miss the opportunity to visit this country rich in history from all these aspects. China is slowly becoming quite popular for many people in urban areas of Bangladesh to travel abroad every year. There are about four daily flights from Bangladesh to China. China has become an increasingly important destination for business travel. My trip to China primarily aimed to observe and understand their business practices and customs.
Traveling to China for the first time for sightseeing or business requires advanced preparation to avoid unwanted hassles. First, at least six months’ bank statement, bank solvency, and passport are required for a Visa. If you want to do the Chinese Visa by yourself, you must bring an invitation from China; otherwise, it should be done by an agency where one benefit is no Visa and no money. Getting a Chinese tourist Visa with a fresh passport will cost a lot of money. However, I had a good chance of getting a Visa as I had previously traveled to Malaysia. Because, as a Bangladeshi, before going to China for the first time, the Visa is a little more accessible if you visit European or other 2/1 countries except for Nepal, Bhutan, and India, such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. Since I was traveling to China for the first time and was not invited, I applied for a Visa through an agency. After getting the Visa, I reviewed the schedule and prices to book the flight ticket and finally booked a return ticket on a Malaysia Airlines flight.
Most Chinese do not understand English, and neither Google Maps nor Facebook can be used in China. Besides, I was going to China alone and had no prior experience. So I wondered how to move from one place to another after going to China. Or where to get halal food. Regarding business relations, I was acquainted with Abdur Rahman Bhai, who had experience visiting China several times. He gave me the address and contact details of Abdul Hai Bhai, who runs a guest house in China. Then I leave as per the date and board the plane after clearing immigration. I met a Bangladeshi brother in the seat next to me who has a guest house in Guangzhou. I talked to him and decided to stay there, and in the meantime, I met Rafiqul Bhai, who supplies cricket shoes to BCB players. Then he also decided to go to that guest house with us. Having two people with previous experience in China made me a little stressed free, and I finally reached China with them. Airports in China do not ask for anything at immigration; they only check passports and Visas and allow entry. Then we went to the guest house, freshened up, and rested.
China is the third major country in the world by area and the first in terms of population. It is very rich in cultural, historical, and archaeological resources. China’s natural beauty, mountains, rivers, seas, and modern urbanization make it popular among travelers worldwide. Most people from Bangladesh go to Guangzhou first, which I also did. Because this city is known as a transportation hub for travel to the southeast of China.
Guangzhou: The capital of Guangdong Province, Guangzhou is China’s third most significant and most economically prosperous city, also known as Canton by the Chinese. Many of our favorite Chinese dishes were born in this city. As the saying goes, the Cantonese eat anything they can fit in their mouths. That means snakes, frogs, dogs, cats, scorpions, etc. There is nothing that the people of this province do not eat. However, beef, mutton, fish, and rice are also available, cooked slightly differently. Whether you go to Guangzhou for business or for any other purpose, it will blow your mind if you make a little effort to see the Canton Tower or Guangzhou Tower at night. The pride of the Cantonese here is the Canton Tower, the Guangzhou Public Library, and the famous theater. The Pearl River flows through this city. The buildings on both sides of the Pearl River are stunning at night!
One thing the whole world knows the city of Guangzhou for is the Canton Fair (also famous as the China Import and Export Fair). That is the biggest fair in China, where most people go—over 1 million square meters of indoor space and about 60500 standard booths. Even in 2/3 days, the entire fair cannot be completed. Many people from all over the world and from Bangladesh visit this fair regularly. The biggest attraction for Muslims in Guangzhou is the shrine and mosque of Hazrat Abi Waqqas, a companion of the Prophet (PBUH). This shrine should be visited only for pilgrimage and prayers. Asking for anything from the shrine is haram, shirk, and beda’at. Overall, Guangzhou is an excellent city with the streets like a flower garden.
Shenzhen: Rafiqul Bhai and I spent two days in Guangzhou and left for Shenzhen by metro. Most train stations or ferries in China have security checks like airports, and at the same time, security forces may ask for visas and passports. After reaching Shenzhen, we checked a few hotels and realized it would be better to stay in a hotel than a Bengali guest house, so we stayed in one hotel for four days. Also found a Muslim restaurant near this hotel where we ate regularly. It is good to say that eating noodles or vegetables after coming to China is better because it is expected that you will not like their cooking.
Now let’s talk about Shenzhen. It is considered to be the fastest-growing city in human history. Today, Shenzhen is the electronics manufacturing capital of the world. Shenzhen is known for two things as a city. One is specifically for the manufacturing capacity of consumer electronics products, and the second is talent or human resources specifically for product development or research and development branches. Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Sony, and Canon — all order from Shenzhen and make their products here. At least 90% of the world’s electronics are manufactured in this city. Everything is cheaper in China, so labor costs are lower.
Although it is known as a commercial city, the entire town has been developed to be eco-friendly. After the work was completed in Shenzhen, Rafiqul Bhai guided me to Guangzhou and left for those cricket shoes in Beijing. Then according to my flight time, I took a taxi to Guangzhou airport and finally returned home.
I had to pay like thirteen thousand BDT to the agent to get the Visa. The price of a return ticket on Malaysia Airlines from Dhaka to Guangzhou route was about thirty-three thousand BDT. Bengali guest houses charge RMB 100 daily for accommodation and meals in China. However, there is no organized environment to stay there, and the quality of the food, though halal, is not very good. The hotel we stayed at in Shenzhen was 160 RMB per day. Since Rafiqul Bhai and I were together, we spent 80 RMB per person, which was better than the guest house because we could buy food we liked from a nearby Muslim restaurant—and had breakfast at McDonald’s next to our hotel for 8 RMB.
Some Essential Tips for China Tour:
- Facebook, Google Search, Chrome, Google Maps, etc., are not available in China, so you must use WeChat for social networking, the English version of Baidu for search, and BaiduMapsEn for Maps. Be sure to install them on your smartphone in Bangladesh because even Play Store doesn’t work in China.
- Like me, you can buy a Chinese SIM at the airport or Roam On your Bangladeshi SIM.
- Getting help from Chinese people in English is almost impossible, so use offline translators. And you understand by converting Chinese to English through WeChat.
- For food, there are a few Muslim hotels in every city that you need to find out about.
- If you are used to cycling, bicycles everywhere in China can be rented.
- Use DIDI or Metro subway instead of a taxi to save travel costs.
- If you need a toilet, tell them WC; otherwise, they will not understand even if you cry all day.
- You won’t have the luck to hear adhan in China, so install the Prayer Times app for prayer times and Qibla direction.
- Due to the Chinese New Year, everything closes for two weeks, from mid-January to mid-February.
- Hire a qualified Chinese interpreter if you are not accompanied by someone you know during your business trip to China.
- And yes, China is spotless, and you will not find a single dust drop on the roads. We will also try to obey their laws.