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Foreigners' Street in Chongqing
    2007-11-23 14:15:51     CRIENGLISH.com

Welcome back. In south-west China's Chongqing Municipality, Foreigners' Street, or Yangren Jie, is famous for its unique atmosphere that combines various styles of food, games and architecture from around the world. Tourists enjoy Italian coffee, Indian cakes and British tea on the street, amidst arched churches, castles, stores and restaurants. A number of restaurants and pubs have been opened by foreigners, like Clifford Yasay from Hawaii and Rebecca Cohan and Wendy Moss from Australia. But to them, life is more than just business, because they have deep affection for Chongqing and have made the city their home in China. Our reporter Shen Ting has more.


Almost everyone on the Foreigners' Street knows Clifford Yasay. He opened the first bar on the street last year, which also happened to be the first sports bar in Chongqing.

A tall and well-built man, he is also a bartender and cook. His father and grandfather were bartenders as well. They worked for General Douglas MacArthur and in the White House.

Yasay has been living in Chongqing for three and a half years. He likes the city, which keeps him on his toes.

'I love it here, Chongqing is good [because] everyday something new changes. A lot of buildings are going up, a lot of buildings are coming down. I like that; everyday is a different change. Every time you go out to Yangren Jie or to Jiefang Bei, you see something new. It's just amazing how fast the life here is changing.'

In the early days in Chongqing, life was not as happy as it is now for Clifford. He opened a restaurant, but the business did not go well.

He decided to give it another try rather than go back home though, since he thought life would get easier, smoother and more comfortable.

Clifford doesn't speak Chinese and his translator was not always available, so he memorized the city's layout and walked everywhere, not using buses or taxies. When he started living in the city, transportation was not as easy as today, so Clifford often felt it difficult to even go outside. But the situation has changed: broken roads have been fixed up and more roads and bridges are being built.

Things in Clifford's life in Chongqing also started to look up. His business started going in the right direction and he was making lots of new friends and enjoying life with them.

'The people here are so nice; they show me around, they take me. I never had that. They make you feel special all the time.'

Li Ping is one of Clifford's best friends in China. He works as a cook in Clifford's bar and they met each other at the very beginning of Clifford's time here. In Li Ping's eyes, Clifford is frank and honest, much like the people in Chongqing.

'If he doesn't have enough money for something, he borrows money from us and pay us back the next day. He is an honest person. And if we need help, like when we caught cold, he gave us medicine. He is very helpful.'

Clifford and his friends often gather in his bar, talking about their experiences in the city. No matter where they have come from, they all find Chongqing to be a good place to live and feel the development of the youngest municipality in China.

'I think the economy is the biggest change. There has been so much construction, so much reconstruction, so many new businesses, so many new areas and so many changes. You know in one year, we may have 20 changes. The economy has just been going really well that is a great thing for Chongqing.'

Rebecca Cohen is from Australia. Having lived in Chongqing for four years, she has worked as an English teacher, a community newspaper editor, and a boss of a restaurant and a tea house on the Foreigners' Street.

These jobs have enabled her to learn more about life in China. But what touched her most was the warm relationship within Chinese families. Rebecca said the rapid development in this country has not affected people's emotion. They remain very closely connected, as they always have been.

'Most of my friends are Chinese. It is like a whole new family, because you are not just friends with your friends, but with your friend's whole family. Their parents take you in, their uncles and aunts take you in, their grandparents, it's amazing.'

Rebecca enjoys every single moment with her friends. They sit outside drinking coffee and watching people passing by. They go shopping at small stores, having fun bargaining with local people. Although not able to speak Chinese, Rebecca finds life to be very cozy, as well as her friend Wendy Moss, a 52-year-old Australian woman.

During her time in Chongqing, whenever she gets lost, she can always get help from friendly local people.

She also likes catching a bus into the city, as her head of white hair often gets her a seat.

'I've been to Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Chengdu. But in Chongqing, I love the people and I have friends here. I just love Chongqing, there's something special about it, I don't know why, I just don't know why. I will not be back [home] for many years. I will stay here in Chongqing.'

On the Foreigners' Street, Clifford, Rebecca and Wendy are building lives for themselves. They may have met some difficulties at first, but they have gradually learned to get along in the city. No matter whether starting a business or teaching English, they have found a home in Chongqing.

That was Shen Ting, who found out about the interesting lives of the foreign residents making home in Chongqing. 'Life in China' will continue after a short break.



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