Interviewee: Liao Zhijun, male, 26, a subway construction engineer
Place of birth: Ningdu County, central China's Jiangxi Province
Current residence: Hangzhou City, east China's Zhejiang Province
Cities visited: Ganzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, and Hangzhou
Understanding of "Better City, Better Life": A high standard of living and a spiritual life that meets residents' needs. The climate and environmental conditions must also be comfortable.
Hangzhou is a beautiful city with green hills and lakes. Although the standard of living here is not as high as that of Shanghai, it is still reasonable. There is a strong cultural atmosphere with thousands of years of history, which makes me feel very comfortable. The Legend of White Snake, a Chinese love story, adds a sense of romance to the city.
I like to ride a bicycle at weekends around West Lake, one of the must-see sites in the city. Every time I go there, I discover a new kind of beauty – it's different from the Great Wall in Beijing and Yu Garden in Shanghai, where one visit is enough for me.
The nearby counties and towns are also amazing. There are various options within a three-hour drive. During the Tomb-Sweeping Day holiday in early April, I went to Putuo Mountain, one of the country's four Buddhist shrines, the former residence of Chiang Kai-shek in Fenghua, the former residence of writer Lu Xun in Shaoxing, and Tianmu Mountain by sharing a car with my friends. I also stopped by the Sea of Bamboo in Anji County, where the Academy-Award-winning film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was shot. I was deeply impressed by the endless green mountains and the scenery along the way.
As a subway construction engineer, I'm responsible for the monthly and annual plans for subway construction projects. I think subways have greatly expanded cities' territories and extended real estate construction to the suburbs. They also make people's lives much easier and can alleviate traffic problems.
Beijing and Shanghai's subway networks are well developed and cover a wide area. But here in Hangzhou, the first subway line has yet to open. On November 15, 2008, there was a collapse on the Hangzhou subway construction site. Since then, we have had very strict construction management, and the progress of construction has been quite slow.
Since the subway is still under construction, traffic is very congested in Hangzhou. Sometimes it takes me an hour to drive to a place when I could walk there in only 30 minutes. But I believe that once the subway line opens, it will be connected with plane, train, bus and other transportation networks to add more charms to Hangzhou.
The distance between Hangzhou and Shanghai is around 200 km, which is not very far. Shanghai is a city of diversity. Personally, I think the standard of living there is even higher than in Beijing. For example, I can grab my hometown cuisine in Shanghai, but that is not the case in Beijing.
Besides, it is very convenient to live in Shanghai. If you have enough money, you can do whatever you want, go wherever you want 24 hours a day. But in Beijing, particularly in winter, the streets become empty and shops are closed after 10 p.m. Shanghai has more 24-hour convenience stores than Beijing. Sometimes you can find three or four in a 100-meter-long alley.
I spent my college years in Beijing. After graduation, I got a job at a design institute in Shanghai. Although the salary was good, I didn't like it. Maybe it was because Shanghai lacks cultural atmosphere. For example, restaurants and KTV were the only two options for reunions with classmates. Going to these places over and over again made me feel empty - my spiritual needs could not be met in Shanghai. So I found another job in Hangzhou and settled down.
As a tourist destination, Hangzhou has its own problems, such as expensive housing and insufficient public services. But overall, I think it is a city where I can live for quite a long time. I will save money for several years, and hopefully can afford an apartment here.