JIMMY CHIBUYE, Beijing
DESPITE having returned home some weeks ago, I am still wondering how my 21 days of stay in China flew by so fast.
I still cannot comprehend whether I had gone for a week or indeed three weeks.
It is a journey I would live to cherish and remember because it taught me many things ranging from cultural values and norms, hard work and respect for others regardless of age.
My heart was racing with joy and at the same time, I was gripped by anxiety when I was told I had been nominated to travel to China for a three-week long training.
Although I could not believe I was nominated to travel to China, I was extremely happy to have been given an opportunity to visit the worldâ€™s biggest developing country.
The journey was to be my first to the Far East.
When time came to formally apply for the training and visa, I was impressed that the Chinese embassy in Lusaka did not waste time to process my documents.
I was declared medically and physically fit by the appointed clinic and before I knew it, all the prerequisites for travelling were in place within a week-and-half.
Thanks to the Zambia Daily Mail Limited management for according me the rare opportunity of travelling to China to attend the â€˜2016 Seminar for New Media Journalists of Developing Countriesâ€™.
The seminar was sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce of China, and organised by the Research and Training Institute of State Administration of Press, publication, radio, film and television.
The seminar attracted 33 journalists from 16 developing countries. Zambia was represented by Peter Chikwampu and I.
On the afternoon of March 27, we left Zambia for China via Ethiopia. The flying time was over 12 hours.
I was engulfed in the euphoria of travelling to China for the first time such that I did not mind the flight duration.
My mind was set on getting to China and experiencing the Chinese life and culture.
The flight was overnight and we arrived in Beijing the following day.
A representative from the organisers of the seminar was on hand to receive us, together with two colleagues from Mozambique and one from Malawi who arrived at the same time.
Later, we were driven to the luxurious China Palace Hotel where we were given lodging formalities and details on the seminar.
We stayed at China Palace Hotel for a week and true to its â€˜palaceâ€™ trade mark, our stay there was very comfortable.
I enjoyed the buffet provided by the hotel both at lunch and dinner. The meals were sumptuous and delicious.
We spent the entire first week learning about the development of China in general and its new media advancements.
The lectures were being conducted at one of China Central Television (CCTV) offices in Beijing.
Beijing, also known as Peking, is located in Northern China and is the countryâ€™s capital city.
It is one of the most populous cities, not only in China, but in the world too, and by 2013, its population stood at 21 million people.
After a week of stay in Beijing, we went to Nanjing City which is located in the middle section of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River.
Nanjing is the capital city of Jiangsu Province and has a population of 8, 216, 100.
My stay in China, particularly in Beijing and Nanjing cities, was awesome because I was given an opportunity to see scenic and jaw-dropping spots.
Some of the beautiful places I visited include the Great Wall of China.
Talking of the Great Wall, the Chinese say one cannot be called a gentleman or indeed said to have visited China if they have not been to this picturesque and magnificent wall. The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe.
It measures about 21, 196.18 kilometres long, according to archaeological survey conducted by Chinaâ€™s State Administration of Cultural Heritage in 2012.
My colleagues and I became heroes after climbing the Great Wall and we were given medals for doing so.
Personally, my mission to China was halfway complete because I had firstly, set my eyes on the Great Wall and secondly, I had actually climbed this magnificent historic structure.
I also learnt that climbing the Great Wall from time to time is a natural way of exercising.
Another eye-catching site I was privileged to see was the Beijing National Stadium which is also called the Olympic Stadium or Birdâ€™s Nest.
The outer layer of this large superb stadium is made in such a way that it looks like twigs put together by birds to protect and support their nests.
Itâ€™s a marvel to see and I would urge someone visiting China for the first time to take time and visit this well-crafted mega sports structure.
The Chaoyang Acrobatic theatre is another place which made my stay in China worthwhile. Our group was treated to a rare show of flying acrobatics by young boys and girls.
The flying acrobatics involves numerous activities, but one worth mentioning is the riding of nine motorbikes in one circular cage.
This act was thrilling and astounding. No doubt all the 33 delegates and other attendants were left with something to talk about for a long time.
We also visited the Eye of Nanjing Bridge, Chinaâ€™s Agriculture Museum, China Film Museum, Agriculture University in China, Nanjing Painting and Calligraphy Institute, Nanjing Museum and Nanjing Acrobatic Troupe.
It was amazing to learn that children at Nanjing Acrobatic Troupe, as young as 10 and 12, were already performing world class acrobatics tricks.
A tour of Nanjing city would not have been complete without visiting the longest river in Asia and the third-longest river in the world, the Yangtze.
We visited the river during night time and it was a tremendous experience.
Despite the wonderful experience we had in China, we faced the challenge of language barrier especially when we needed to buy something, but the locals could hardly hear us.
At some point colleagues and I were forced to draw the items we needed to buy to make the local traders understand what we wanted.
I vividly recall one day when Aggrey Mutambo (a colleague from Kenya) and I were compelled to draw a cow for the locals in a particular eatery to understand that we needed beef.
Despite the language barrier and time difference between China and Zambia, my stay in the Asian country was worthwhile.
I always had a companion in Yanjin beer to help me acclimatise to the local time (+8GMT/ six hours ahead of Zambia) and also to fight homesickness.
The trip to China has left an indelible mark in my life which I will always live to cherish.
I left China very knowledgeable about the importance of cultural values and norms, respect for others, especially the elderly.
Given a chance to return to China, I would gladly accept because I feel there is more to learn from the Chinese people.
JIMMY CHIBUYE, Beijing