'Where is Mzansi?'

Mcelwa Nchabeleng in Beijing

Mcelwa Nchabeleng in Beijing

BEIJING - Winning the right to host the 2010 World Cup finals has endeared us to many people around the world.

Many people at the Beijing Olympics do not stop talking about South Africa and how ready they are to come to Mzansi for the tournament.

Even many of our black brothers and sisters (the Chinese, of course) say they are looking forward to coming to South Africa for the soccer fiesta.

But many other Chinese I spoke to claim not to have any clue where South Africa is.

Whenever I talk about my beautiful country they ask if it is it in France or United States? Their ignorance sometimes gets into my nerves.

These guys are so ignorant that they are not even aware of the recent ground-breaking victory for the Chinese living in South Africa who were declared blacks by the Pretoria High Court.

But apart from their ignorance about Mzansi and the language barrier here, everything is just fine.

Food is okay and one does not have to be worried about eating dog's meat as it is not served - at least until after the Olympics on Sunday.

I have been eating spaghetti, special fried rice, a good selection of fresh vegetables and seafood.

My newly found friends in Beijing have taken me to various historic sites here.

They have taken me to places such as The Great Wall of China, which is located on the outskirts of Beijing, about an hour from the hotel I'm staying in.

I have also been to the world's famous Tian'anmen Square, located near the Forbidden City in the city centre.

The breathtaking sites that I have seen here are something that will be remain indelible in my mind.

Life in this populous Chinese capital is fast. Streets are always full of cars and taxis that operate throughout the night.

The streets and hotels are painted red and white after the Olympic Games flag colours.

The Beijing Olympics Organising Committee should also be for their efforts to market the Games through radio and television adverts informing people about the schedule of coming events.

Some of the volunteers - there are 40 000 - line the streets outside Olympics hotels wearing the colours of the Games in another bid to woo people to the event.

But the disappointing part of the Olympics is the manner in which unscrupulous people are ripping off Olympics lovers by selling them tickets at exorbitant prices.

Moving around Beijing at midnight is like going around Johannesburg during the day.

People here do not sleep and it seems their day starts just after sunset.

They shop in the evening and you will see them at shopping malls in throngs, well after midnight.

Goods in Beijing are cheap and tourists can afford to buy as much as possible.

The popular place where people from different walks of life usually buy when in China is Silk Street, which is popular for its "bargain sales" tradition.

Other popular malls and shopping centres which attract many tourists here include Liulichang Cultural Street, Beijing apm and Juguge, which sells traditional Chinese artworks.

Top of the range cellphones, Ipods and digital cameras could cost between R344 and R670 at most of the shopping malls.

But there are exclusive shops that sell international fashion labels such as Prada, Versace, Armani, Dolce and Gabanna, Dunhill, Hugo Boss and Ferragamo where a pair of shoes can cost more than R6880. A pair of jeans can also cost the same amount.

Those who like clubbing can also be taken care of as there are a variety of nightclubs and pubs in the city.

I have visited drinking spots such as the trendy Chinadoll, Shooters and Butterfly.

But the Chinadoll seems to be the popular joint as revellers prefer it to other pubs.

They do not mind paying a high entrance fee despite free entry into nearby pubs.

I met brothers and sisters from Nigeria, Angola, Cameroon and Ivory Cost at the Chinadoll and some noisy Americans.

The majority of Chinese do not understand English. I'm forced to use sign language to communicate with the Chinese.

It seems as if these people were only taught words like "you are welcome," "I'm sorry," "bye" and "good night" when they deal with foreigners.

But they always use these words inappropriately.

Yesterday I commended a waiter for the nice food and she responded by saying "I'm sorry".

They struggle to pronounce my name and to make it easy for them I call myself Yang.