The Napahai Lake, located in Shangri-la, basks in the warm winter sun and hordes of sheep roam on the pasture that surrounds it. Dressed in a brightly coloured Tibetan robe, Mahzaib Abbasi dances with two Chinese tourists she met a day ago on her trip, sending the sleeves flying as she gracefully lifts her arm.
Residing in China since 2016, the Pakistani girl is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the Chinese language at a top university in Beijing. “I have always been fascinated by the Chinese language and culture,” Mahzaib told the reporter, “it’s a valuable skill that can open doors for my future career.”
An avid traveller, Abbasi has travelled to more than 50 cities in China over the years, and with a 15-day vacation this Spring Festival, she sets foot westward to China’s southwestern province of Yunnan, more than 2,000 kilometres away from Beijing. As China relaxes its COVID-19 measures, “I am able to travel freely and explore different parts of the country,” the
globetrotter said as she films the dancing tourists and locals and grazing hordes.
“The locals are polite and lovely, and I love their culture and life style,” Mahzaib said excitedly, “In Yunnan, I saw so many people in the streets they were enjoying their vacations. Alhamdulillah, now everything is normal”.
As she treks through different parts of the country, Abbasi feels the need to share what she sees with more people. To this end, she started vlogging in late 2020 and posted vlogs on Chinese and international social media platforms. “I started vlogging to show what the real China is like,” she explains, “many people have never been to China and have stereotypes against the country.”
With over 161,000 followers on YouTube, the Pakistani vlogger navigate to garner viewers predominantly from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and other Asian countries. In a 2021 vlog about how the Chinese celebrate Eid in China’s northwestern city of Lanzhou, Abbasi received over 8,000 comments expressing thanks and appreciation for her efforts, with the video reaching a million views in less than a week.
Interestingly, her vlogs are tri-lingual where she presents in Urdu with Chinese and English subtitles. Mahzaib explains, she wants to promote her native language Urdu through vlogging. “I feel more comfortable in my native language,” she says, “I also want to use my vlogs to reach out to people from other countries who understand Urdu, such as India and Bangladesh.” To date, the Pakistani hodophile has made 121 vlogs on social media platforms. “I feel humbled and proud that people find my videos useful,” she said, “vlogging is not an easy job, but the positive feedback I receive keeps me motivated.”
As this year marks the China-Pakistan year of tourism exchanges, Mahzaib sees this as a great opportunity for both countries to learn from each other’s cultures. “I’m looking forward to exploring Xinjiang after graduation,” says Abbasi. “I believe that through travel and cultural exchange, we can foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for each other.”