There are gaudy striped umbrellas and chaises longue everywhere. A plump blonde from Russia’s Magadan is ecstatically sunbathing; a thickset man from Khabarovsk is cutting a juicy water-melon for his kids. A volleyball net is quite nearby: a team of guys from Russia’s Irkutsk is playing volleyball. This is a beach so much typical of beaches in the Caucasus or in the Crimea (or any other beaches at the Mediterranean, Adriatic or some other seas where Russians prefer to spend vacations). One difference is that water is too salt, and Chinese hieroglyphs are everywhere.
However, Russians feel quite at home here: even in restaurants you are sure to get a menu in Russian, and what is more, in perfect Russian at that. There are cafes where you can taste Russian borsch (red-beet soup), fried potatoes, tick pancakes. This is all about Chinese town of Badahe situated 300 km from Beijing; the place is famous since Mao Zedong’s rule for top-meetings of Chinese government that always fell on summer heat. What is more interesting is that Badahe is the only place in China where majority of foreign guests are Russians; there is a resort base, a so-called “China’s Russian-town”.
There are no palms trees and other exotics typical of south regions in Badahe. If you settle in a two-storey cottage, you will see short Chinese pine trees with fluffy paws like in the Moscow region. This is a wonderful seaside area, where the weather is warm due to low wooded mountains, but at the same time the air is fresh and cool, very much like in Abkhazia.
Badahe is full of sights; the Great Chinese Wall, construction of which started 2,200 years ago, raises from the sea 30 km from the town. A central office of a wonder-working tsi gun gymnastics that is believed to cure from gastritis, ulcer, nephritis, hypertension is situated in Badahe, which is also famous as a governmental resort.
What is also astonishing is that prosperity of the town is closely connected with an innovation experiment of Russian business. Some time ago Russian business was just an outsider in China, it involved ordinary purchase and sale only. Much was spoken about prospective investments and further development of science effective production in the Tumangan river area. Russia’s role in the project was estimated as the most important, because a railway was supposed to pass via Russia to the sea. In a word, even in China’s remotest areas Russia is considered only as a territory suitable for transport roads, the role similar to Panama’s.
Already in the tsar times, Russians built the Chinese Eastern Railway, the cities of Harbin and Dalny; Russian merchant Churin opened shops all about China, his name is still written at many shops nowadays. It was Russia that raised the basis of today’s industry in China in the 1950s. And Russia is still treated not seriously enough in China. Badahe is a happy exclusion from the rule.
This is mostly due to the Druzhba (Friendship) resort home built for Soviet specialists in the 1950s. However, Druzhba started collapsing under new market relations. Several cottages of the resort home were assigned for a Russian-Chinese joint-stock enterprise that was later called Russotel.
The joint-stock enterprise opened in 1994; 63 rooms offered to tourists by the enterprise at former Druzhba were almost always occupied by guests, that in its turn yielded $35,000 to the owners already after the first summer of Russotel’s exploitation. Moreover, the joint-stock enterprise was steadily developing the business, services offered to tourists were getting better with every year. Russotel established contacts with tourism companies from Siberia and Far East.
In a word, not only Russotel got better thanks to Russian tourists, but even Badahe itself has changed greatly.
Even when the joint-stock enterprise that had set up Russotel, was closed, the Russotel sign remained on the building. The business started with the help of Russian businessmen is prospering now. The incumbent director of Russotel highly appreciates the role of Russian tourists in Badahe development. And Russian tourists, arriving to Badahe from Siberian regions mostly, are happy to visit the resort which is available for them and situated quite nearby.
If China plans to turn Badahe into a prosperous international resort, it is quite natural that importance of Russian tourists for this should be taken into consideration. However, for a greater success Russian managers who know Russia’s mentality perfectly well should be invited for developing the tourism business in Badahe.
Andrey Krushinsky PRAVDA.Ru Beijing
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/08/01/45048.html