Three workers from the White Rock Wind Farm to the west of Glen Innes have just returned from a working trip to China, training with their Chinese colleagues in some remote areas as well as seeing Beijing.
They were highly privileged in that they went to Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang province. It’s right up in the far north-west of China, tucked into a corner near the borders with Mongolia, the Asian part of Russia and Kazakhstan.
There are large numbers of Muslims there who the Chinese government is reported to have repressed heavily. There were riots there in 2009.
It’s also mountainous and high – ideal for wind farms.
The New England workers were there for the technical knowledge and not for the politics and their impressions are of the people they met for work.
One had never been outside Australia before. We asked them what their impressions were.
Nick Wall from Glen Innes (on his first time outside Australia).
“Travelling for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect, the airport and flights part is somewhat tiresome with all the security checks etc but the excitement of being in a foreign country was worth it and I was happy to experience it all.
“Beijing was very similar to Australian cities only the roads seem easier to use and the signs are in Chinese!
“My impression of China was its very beautiful, the gardens, parks and architecture were stunning, so much traditional design even in new buildings, and the infrastructure in both Beijing and Urumqi was excellent, very well thought out city plans.
“The people are very friendly, the culture of entertaining guests is very strong, we were very well looked after. The food was excellent, even the odd looking dishes that are explained as something we don’t even consider in Australia were very tasty, it seems there isn’t much they don’t like for savoury style dishes. Sweet dishes/deserts don’t seem very common in China.
“The scenery in most areas was straight from a story book, the views are epic to say the least, wide open desert surrounded by snow capped mountains, rivers and lakes high up in mountain ranges.
“We visited a place called the ‘Heavenly Lake’, high in the mountains outside of Urumqi city in Xinjiang province, starting from desert floor working up to alpine region snow covered mountains, crystal clear snow melt water and a lake over looked by ancient Chinese temples.
“We also visited the Forbidden City while in Beijing, a spectacle for sure. with its huge fortress walls, bright colourful and intricate details on the edge of every structure, surrounded by beautiful gardens and trees. In all it was definitely a magic experience I won’t soon forget!”
Simon White from Inverell.
Simon was impressed by Beijing. He said that initially it seemed like a “crazy, fast-paced, heavily polluted, chaotic city” but he started to see it in a different light as “organised and clean, with more greenery than most other major cities”. The people were polite and friendly.
On the Chinese people he met, he said they were “very sociable” and “sharing and enjoying anything together seems to be a philosophy they all share”.
He has some advice for travellers: “It is a very different culture to Australia. The food is, of course, very different. Don’t go to China and expect your usual chicken chow mien. Different regions have their own ‘famous’ specialities with heated social media debates on what is better!”
He said the Chinese are very big on social media, particularly WeChat. “WeChat is an app they use in China for absolutely everything, from chatting to friends, finding a good restaurant or even paying for the meal or a Didi (Chinese equivalent of Uber)”.
He concluded: “I believe people make the experience wherever you go in the world. The reception we received was 5 Star. Nothing was ever too much trouble for anyone. The Chinese people we met were very happy to help and engage with us with a big smile which showed that slight charming shyness of what seem to be a very humble race of people.”
Chris Sippel from Inverell.
“This was my second trip to China for work in the past four years, I saw a lot of the southern parts of China on the previous trip, so it was great to see the northern half.
“To be honest it felt no different from being in Australia - just different faces and language.
“ As per the previous trip, there was not one dish I did not like, they are all great. They do a BBQ style meal that would put many a Kebab shop out of business!
“Seeing Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City was spectacular - especially the Forbidden City. After nearly two hours of walking through numerous temples and communal squares we were only a third of the way through”.