New girl in China
The chorus of one of Ghana's hip life songs which goes, "there is a new girl in town," sums up the story of my near lost experience in China's Yiwu Commodity Trading Centre.
As a journalist, I have always held the view that "a journalist must not get lost" because the whole profession is about asking so if you do not know a place, one should ask.
However, my experience at the Centre made nonsense of this long held view.
I am part of a group of participants from African countries attending a seminar on Think-Tanks Forum for Anglophone African countries in China. And as part of the seminar, participants were taken to various fun-field places in China, as well as to places where we could get Chinese products to buy.
On that fateful Sunday, our bus dropped us at a place called District Four and just before we got off the bus, our tour guide asked us to take her number which I reluctantly did because I was like who will get lost here.
One of the participants, whom we had unanimously appointed as our group leader, also asked us to take a picture of the front view of the gate our vehicle was packed. Again, I ignored it and set off with my colleague and fellow Ghanaian to do our shopping.
Since we were looking for shoes, we set off straight away to the third floor. But before then, we decided to take a picture at the first floor because of the beautiful decorations there.
After making some few purchases, we realised it was about 30 minutes to the time we were supposed to gather at our meeting point to board our vehicle. It was at this point that we realised we were completely lost.
Fortunately, for us we managed to find somebody who understands and could speak English. She couldn't help us find our way to the bus even with the aid of the pictures.
We, therefore, gave her the number of our tour guide. The sad thing was that after dialling several times, the line was constantly engaged and since she could not wait longer she left us to our fate.
After walking past a number of gates and still not being able to find our way, I decided to approach a security man of a bank. He took us inside the bank to see if any of the bank officials could help us.
That was when with the little sign language skills I had adopted since I came to China, I asked a lady to use her phone to call the number of the tour guide stored on my phone.
She has to use her phone because I didn't have a local chip to enable me make calls. The lady understood and made the call which went through.
She managed to get the gate number for us and with the help of the security man we finally and happily joined our colleagues.
I learnt a lesson from my experience that day - first to walk in groups all the time and also to take note of simple landmarks.
But I was not the only one who got lost that day. One other participant also got lost. In his case, he took a taxi which took him to a completely different place.
Luckily for him, he had his ID card which bore the names and contact numbers of our chaperones. The driver made the call and he was able to join us. That incident delayed us for almost an hour.
Indeed, I was a new girl in China!