My very first solo traveling in China: Wenzhou

Part 1: Lost Passport and Phone (and Back) - What Did I Do?

Months ago, I saw an advertisement on internet for "Advancing Health with AI Conference" hosted by Nature, Nature Medicine, and Eye Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University in collaboration with WYSS in Marriott Hotel, Wenzhou. Driven by my curiosity about AI and eye health, I registered as a visitor. It's a rare opportunity to attend an international conference locally (although it's not my first time to attend such conference).

Originally, I planned to attend only on April 28, just to see Prof. Marzyeh's talk, but I ended up booking a hotel and tickets for April 25-28 to explore Wenzhou as well. I traveled by fast train from Guangzhou and took the S1 metro to 三垟湿地站一口. I intended to take bus number 71, but needing a restroom urgently, I opted for an online taxi instead, thinking it would be quicker.

The white taxi arrived after a short wait. I hopped in, told him the last four digits of my phone number as usual, and off we went. Soon, the driver received a call informing him he had picked up the wrong passenger. I laughed because I hadn't checked the taxi number, I just saw the same white color, and the driver hadn't confirmed my destination before driving off. I disembarked at the second bus stop.

After some confusion with my online taxi orders and cancellations, I finally boarded the correct taxi. As we drove off, I noticed the first driver lingering nearby, apparently just enjoying a break on the window.

Upon reaching the hotel, I realized my passport and another phone were missing. Attempts to contact the online taxi company initially led nowhere, as the system kept referring me to the driver I had canceled. Eventually, a local taxi helped me called the online driver once again, but the driver perhaps busy with the passenger, found no passport and phone. So I thought they must be fell on the bus station, metro station, or fast train station. This local taxi driver helped me searched my passport and phone on the bus and metro stations to no avail, and then suggested we visit the police station.

I was skeptical about the police's willingness to help, recalling my Serbian friend's unsuccessful finding missing passport experience in Malaysia, and my Indonesian friends' failed attempt to get back their lost phones in Indonesia. Surprisingly, the polices in Wenzhou were incredibly diligent. They reviewed CCTV footage from the train, train stations, metro, metro station, from morning until around 5 PM. They called the train's driver to stop the train movement and check whether there are any phone and passport there. Although they initially found nothing, the police remained confident.

During the conference, I managed to attend a few hours but was mostly preoccupied with the search from my hotel room. Because I am a muslim that can't be parted from praying, there, I prayed certain prayer my mother taught me: "Ya Mu'id...". I still believe just like in Guangzhou, in Wenzhou, my belongings will be back. Miraculously, the police later informed me that my belongings were found in the back seat of the taxi that had driven me to the hotel. The police called the taxi driver, and the taxi driver found and returned them to the police. The police then invited me to collect them in the police station. When I offered a reward (money), they refused. They said, "Don't give the police money. If we need money, why do we become a police? We are from people, to serve the people. Not only Chinese people, but also 外国朋友.“ These words touched my heart and it silently cried; 太感动了.

When I came to the police office to take my passport and phone, the police were exceptionally friendly and even prepared colleagues who spoke English, because I said my Chinese 口语 was limited. We shared laughs over the incident and took photos together, creating a memorable experience that seems funny and warm.

This story, was probably only happened in China.

Me and the Wenzhou policemen, Mr. Long C.S.

Miraculously got back my passport!

Part 2: Sightseeing and the Nature Conference

I attended the conference on April 26 in few sessions only, focusing on how AI accelerates diagnosis and research in areas like cancer and eyesight, and comparing AI's performance with that of physicians in performance. There were also sessions and product display how technology with AI fasten data reading, image to image mapping, data synthesis, to vision check and enhancement. There was also special message that we shouldn't blindly believe in AI technology, and still utilize our brain to read, synthesize, and draw data, since sometimes they produced hallucinations.

This AI technology function is for eye condition checking

This technology is also for eye checking condition

On April 27, I skipped the conference sessions to explore Wenzhou. I visited Jiangxin Island, where I tried delicious fruits from a local vendor called 马蹄 (water chest nut), and learned from a first-year bachelor student from Xian about the island's historical sites. After lunch time, he continued sightseeing while I farewell and went to the train station to buy ticket to Guangzhou, and got back to the hotel to pack my things.

Miniature of British consulate in the island in the past

The island garden scenery

Bhuddist temple to pray

On April 28, I fully engaged in the conference, attending sessions on mitigating risks in AI, from Prof. Marzyeh which trained models with empirical bias risk minimization, and found the models to predict disease encode demographic attributes. Prof. Melissa who talked about stages to develop AI model, and the end, a talk about low cost digital solutions to improve child health in Sub Sahara Africa from Prof. Nada. Prof Judy, energetic in her 60s, discussed complex algorithms, ending her talk with reflections on global issues and the importance of continuous learning.

With Prof. Judy. Even though I didn't understand the complex algorithm, I like her keep learning spirit

Before departing, I expressed my gratitude to the editor and volunteers who made the conference enriching, enabling me to meet notable individuals like the cheerful graduated in less than 3 years of Dr. Malake from Lebanon, an amazing Dr. Graciella from Cameroon who worked in the hospital, the humble hardworking Miss Hu who is writing her thesis from China, and off course, the charming happy to help Dr. Stephen from Ghana.

With other students from different countries

28 April 2024 noon. Packed and ready, I returned to Guangzhou using train, reinvigorated by the wonderful experiences in Wenzhou. This, is not going to be the last solo traveling in China.