Ludmila Anisimova (right) talks with a Russian shopper at the "Female Housekeeper" retail center in Hunchun, Jilin province. (Photo for China Daily)
When Ludmila Anisimova from St. Petersburg retired eight years ago, she decided to start a new life thousands of miles away in China.
The 63-year-old used to work for a district court in the Russian city. She was a civil lawyer in charge of labor-dispute cases for decades.
Life after retirement is boring, she said, so she was more than happy to travel to Hunchun in Jilin province for a blind date organized by her daughter.
"At first glance, I was deeply fascinated. The city is so energetic and well-planned," Anisimova said.
A few months later, she stopped dating the man she was introduced to. But by then, she was in love with the city.
"The environment is good, roads are broad and flat, and most importantly, people are kind. I love them," she said.
After consulting with her daughter, she chose to stay and start a new life.
In the past three years, she has tried a series of jobs including working as a beauty salon assistant and as a Russian teacher. She now works for a retail store, helping Russian tourists.
"She's very friendly and willing to help people," said Liu Xu, Anisimova's boss. "She knows exactly what Russians like and communicates with them effectively."
Liu's store, one of the largest of its kind in the region, mainly sells bedding products.
"Work for me is not only about making money but also about enjoying life," Anisimova said. "I love this job because it enables me to talk with my fellow Russians. I can help them find what they want at the right prices."
She rents a 78-square-meter apartment, and gets up at around 6 am every day to prepare a Russian breakfast comprising milk, vegetable porridge and Russian bread.
"The beef dumplings here are so delicious. I can't resist the temptation whenever I go to restaurants with friends," she said. "I could not think of a better place to enjoy my retirement years than Hunchun."
Every Tuesday she takes a day off and goes for a facial beauty treatment and a massage.
Her monthly pay is around $310, which covers all her expenses, and allows her to save her pension back in Russia.
"Food and other products are not so expensive here," Anisimova said. "People in the supermarket and at the vegetable market are so kind, and they understand what I say. Some are even my friends now."
In the last three years, she has also traveled to many Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Dalian.
"I enjoy life here and I want to stay here forever," she said.
"In fact, lots of friends and I are now looking for Mr Right in China because Chinese people are considerate and kindhearted," she said.
"What I'm looking for now is a marriage agency," she added.