After enduring a 14 hour flight from Harare to Beijing, plus a long, boring two hour stop in Ethiopia, we had to connect from Addis Ababa to Beijing, probably the most exciting and rather confusing act was cutting across the Global Mean Time (GMT) zones and restarting your day in flight.
It was around 10pm local time when we left Ethiopia to cross through the Oceans and the most powerful gift of science was at work as we were airborne over the vast oceanic waters, shifting the time forward by 6 more hours. When we landed it was around 4pm, local time in China and we had to witness the sun set twice in less than 24 hours.
By Toneo Rutsito
I will not delve much in to the science of time zone difference, but hasten to say it is more confusing and draining than it is interesting, you feel like sleeping mid day because your home time zone says so, you also feel so fresh at midnight because back home its only getting dark.
Needless to say, when the seeds for the future crew and I finally had our first Chinese dinner, decided to go indoors to freshen and sleep just like we do back home, I saw crowds moving in the opposite direction, they were not driving from town, but against, why? the answer is simple, Welcome to China!
It was a Friday night, and after forcing myself to sleep during the flight, I was just fresh as ever and thought it necessary to tour the closest surrounding areas to my hotel. As tradition, I always make sure I move around my perimeter to have an idea of what exactly is surrounding me.
I clearly remember it was 1am, when I walked around by foot, floating in the dry and humid night, it’s a common scene to see most males move around without any shirt but just bottoms, remember my last insert when I spoke of the real dry and humid whether during summer.
What boggled my mind till now is the numbers in town and type of activity I saw way after midnight. Just a few blocks from the main universities campus, students and entrepreneurs are literally packed in town some getting a few drinks, chit chatting while thousands simply just hanging out at night in the streets just because its Beijing in China.
I would be forgiven to state or think that Beijing is one of the most safest cities in the world, considering the billion population in China, and when 20% of the population is out there in the streets at night, that number is still a major shock.
Probably the most important thing that most people completely fail to see at night is just what makes this highly populated city busy and safe at night? The concept is simple and clear, Beijing is a Smart City!!.
They have digital security from street cameras, real-time monitoring, 24 hour surveillance and highly active emergency response teams, not mentioning the serious police presence from one street to the other.
The city is intertwined with a plethora of free internet hotspots, which makes intenet a real human basic right which is substantially important as your bottle of water and wipes in Chinese summer.
In Beijing, they have so much accepted a culture of order and safety to appoint that you feel like leaving your cellphone or valuables anywhere and still could come back to find them still placed where you left them.
Both formal and informal night businesses like food takeaways, clubs, grocery stores, continue to trade in the main streets ignoring the wee hours of the morning.
This simple connectivity and safety measure allows people to trade and keep revenue flowing for the cities in town which has boosted their economy tremendously.
In Zimbabwe we shy away from the streets around 4pm only to open doors at 8am, giving ourselves only 8 hrs of the day, and should we get all the capital we need, we still wont make up for the wasted hours in sleep we have got, hence our economy can not boom because the environment is not enabling.
Most Chinese do not wake up for formal employment to see their bosses, a majority are doing something as entrepreneurs, SMEs and sole traders. You drive your own business and the harder you work the much more revenue you generate.
You are thinking of how much cash they make, well it’s a different story as well, very few people use cash, its all digital money and less than 20% actually go out for physical shopping neither do they pay cash in the streets for informal business.
I know what you are probably thinking, they use visa cards or master cards with plenty POS machines in the streets, maybe a typical solution for the cash crunched Zimbabwe. Well the answer is NO!!.They do not pay that much with these banks cards in the streets, they use WeChat to pay, yes a social network to actually pay for products, why not jump into that in my next insert??