Rus­sian tour guide con­nects with China on the bor­der

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - TIAN XUEFEI

An­drei Baluas Vladimirovich,

50, has been work­ing for the past 15 years as a tourist guide on the Sino-Rus­sian bor­der, of­ten be­tween the cities of Khabarovsk and Fuyuan, which face each other across the Hei­longjiang River. Re­cently, Vladimirovich, a res­i­dent of Khabarovski, spoke to China Daily about his life and changes in cross-bor­der tourism.

How of­ten do you cross the Hei­longjiang River?

Ev­ery day there are six boats trav­el­ing be­tween Khabarovsk and Fuyuan. Each boat can carry 45 pas­sen­gers, and ev­ery week I bring 150 to 200 tourists to China. Dur­ing the busy sea­son, I come here once a day. But now, be­cause of much lower ex­change rates of rubles against the yuan and ris­ing prices, the num­ber of tourists has dropped.

Who are the Rus­sian tourists you bring to China? What kind of Chi­nese com­modi­ties do they like? Af­ter so many years, what has hap­pened to the spend­ing habits of Rus­sian tourists?

Most are young peo­ple but some are re­tirees. In the past, af­ter re­turn­ing to Rus­sia, they sold the goods they bought in China, in­clud­ing clothes, shoes, hats, un­der­wear, swim­suits and mink coats. Now, be­cause of higher costs, they can’t make a profit from buy­ing and sell­ing. So most of the goods they buy are for per­sonal con­sump­tion, like jeans, T-shirts and daily ne­ces­si­ties. Some Rus­sians or­der fur­ni­ture made in Guangzhou, and ship their pur­chases through Suifenhe.

What kind of Chi­nese food do they like?

For me, I like all kinds of Chi­nese food. Rus­sian tourists like Chi­nese tea, fruit, Snow and Harbin brand beers, and Ant wine.

Be­sides shop­ping, what do Rus­sian tourists like to do? Which scenic spots do they like in Fuyuan?

They like Chi­nese tra­di­tional mas­sage, and they like to see Chi­nese den­tists be­cause of their low prices and ef­fi­ciency. They like to visit Dong­ming Tem­ple and en­joy the lo­tus flow­ers in Fuyuan.

What do you do when the Hei­longjiang River freezes in win­ter?

In win­ter, my main task is to rest. Some­times I can help oth­ers re­pair elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances.

What about your fam­ily?

My wife helps me with the tour busi­ness, like tak­ing book­ings and or­ga­niz­ing trips. My son is a com­puter en­gi­neer.

What about your in­come?

I earn 15 yuan ($2.25) from each tourist, or 2,000 to 3,000 yuan per week. Not much.

Why is there a logo on your busi­ness card?

I help Rus­sians buy Chi­nese goods from Taobao and ask the sellers to de­liver them to a fixed ad­dress in Fuyuan. Then I carry them back to Khabarovsk. Many Rus­sian peo­ple like buy­ing goods on Taobao.

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