Em­ploy­ees by day, tourists by night

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By HOULIQIANG

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of women choose to be­come do­mes­tic work­ers in Bei­jing. Most do the work be­cause wages in the me­trop­o­lis are higher than in other cities, but for some, the work of­fers an op­por­tu­nity for do­mes­tic tourism and a chance to broaden their hori­zons in China’s an­cient cap­i­tal.

Ding Surong is a re­tired pri­mary school teacher from the out­skirts of He­gang city, Hei­longjiang prov­ince. The 60-year-old was once em­ployed as a do­mes­tic worker in Harbin while her daugh­ter at­tended univer­sity inthe city, the provin­cial cap­i­tal.

The sin­gle mother chose do­mes­tic work be­cause she was un­der pres­sure as a re­sult of sup­port­ing her daugh­ter through univer­sity, but her de­ci­sion to pur­sue the same line of work in Bei­jing was mainly due to her cu­rios­ity about the city.

“I wanted to hang around in Bei­jing,” she said, adding that many zhiqing— young­peo­ple­fro­mur­ban ar­eas who were sent to the coun­try­side around “the cul­tural rev­o­lu­tion” (1966-76) — who worked on

I played around Bei­jing while work­ing as a do­mes­tic helper. It was a very nice way to learn about lo­cal customs and prac­tices.”

Ding Surong, a 60-year-old do­mes­tic worker in Bei­jing her farm now live in Bei­jing, as do many of her for­mer stu­dents.

“It (do­mes­tic work) suited me well. There­was­noneed forany fur­ther study, and work­ing in a client’s home was just like work­ing at home. All you needed to do was cook and clean the house,” she said. “I played around Bei­jing while work­ing as a do­mes­tic helper. It was a very nice way to learn about lo­cal customs and prac­tices.”

Ding chose to only work for se­niors. “I had been around chil­dren for­morethan half ofmy life, I didn’t want to care for chil­dren any­more,” she said, “Some of the se­niors I worked for were in­tel­lec­tu­als and vet­er­ans. I learned a lot from them.”

Dur­ing her seven years in the cap­i­tal, she vis­ited al­most all of Bei­jing’s ma­jor tourist at­trac­tions, but has also trav­eled to Xi’an in Shaanxi prov­ince and the north­ern port city of Tian­jin.

Last year, Ding quit her job and went back to her­home­town to help her daugh­ter, who is plan­ning to open a kinder­garten.

When Jia Huifeng was laid off from her job as an ac­coun­tant at a fac­tory in Shanxi prov­ince in the 1990s, she be­came a busi­ness­woman and then a do­mes­tic worker in Bei­jing in 2007.

“I had been think­ing about com­ing to Bei­jing after I was laid off,” said the 55-year-old. “Many peo­ple have to spend money on tourism and hav­ing fun in Bei­jing, but I can tour the city while work­ing here. It’s a lot of fun.”

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