Journeying the Belt and Road Ep. 11: The Golden Route of China-Europe Trade
Updated 20:58, 27-Sep-2018
By Zhao Yunfei, Li Jian
03:02

We took a ride on a giant cargo vessel carrying goods from China to Europe, ending our journey here in Germany. But the ship will make the return trip taking containers back to China.

The COSCO SHIPPING Virgo travels in a loop, between Asia, Africa and Europe along the golden route. Over 30 days, we traveled through many waterways, including the East China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea, the Strait of Malacca, the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

Seamen work on the vessel. /CGTN Photo

Seamen work on the vessel. /CGTN Photo

Along the way, we stopped in places such as Singapore, the Suez Canal in Egypt, the Piraeus Port in Greece, the Rotterdam Port in the Netherlands, and finally Hamburg in Germany. Each port plays a significant role under the Belt and Road framework. 

The port of Singapore and the Suez Canal are two pivotal stations that offer fast transport services for vessels passing by. The port of Piraeus connects maritime and land transportation routes. And Rotterdam and Hamburg are two major ports in Europe that have large trade volumes. 

But what made our trip very interesting was our experience living and working with seamen on the vessel. Their job seems to be a mystery to many, requiring strength, diligence and professionalism. Safety is the priority in their everyday work. That means that not only should they maneuver the ship well but also guarantee that the 20,000 containers on the vessel are delivered on time.

Dawn on the Indian Ocean. /CGTN Photo

Dawn on the Indian Ocean. /CGTN Photo

It is not as romantic a job as many have thought of. Crew members say the biggest challenge is being away from home.

But the biggest reward of being a sailor is also their experience. While traveling around the earth, two-thirds of which is covered by water, seamen are lucky to have the opportunity to get close to great scenes of nature.