Surrounded by the smell of chili and bacon unfamiliar to most Shanghaiers, former residents from the Three Gorges Dam Area are observing the Chinese year of horse at their new homes in Chongming County in the east China metropolis.
Most families prepared the traditional Chongqing style dishes for their grand New Year's Eve dinner on Monday.
"We all miss the spicy food from our hometown," said a housewife, giving her name as Lu, "Shanghai food is OK, but is too sweet for us."
Like most housewives in the neighborhood, Lu has prepared four jars of pickles for the holiday, along with other traditional Chongqing food, including bean curd, pork and various dim sum.
To make way for the world's largest water control project at the Three Gorges, 1,210 people from Yunyang County in the Yangtze riverside municipality of Chongqing were resettled in 14 towns and villages in the County over the past two years.
All those resettled have been allocated farming land. Some have found jobs in local businesses. "Although we feel homesick at times, I hope we'll all get used to our new home and enjoy our life here," said Fan Minghua, who found work at a local handkerchief factory soon after his family moved here.
Some residents are making money from their own businesses in town, which include drugstores, hairdressing and tailoring. The local government has exempted them from tax during the first year of operation.
Pan Jialong's family moved to Chongming in 2000, and was allocated two hectares of land, where he planted rice, vegetables and oranges. "People are nice and friendly here," said Pan, "There are free lectures on how to increase our crop yield, and the villagers even offer me a lift in their trucks to sell fruit and vegetables downtown."
The younger generation of the new residents have found life particularly enjoyable in their second hometown, as the well-equipped schools, amiable teachers and friendly classmates all make them feel at home.
Yu Liqing, a second year student at a junior high school in Chongming, did not learn any English at the primary school in her hometown Yuyang. She was at a loss when she found most of her native Shanghai classmates had started to learn English at an much earlier age.
But her sympathetic teacher soon helped her out with an extra half hour of tuition each day. By the end of last semester, the diligent Yu had become one of the best students in her class.
"Young people adjust easily to new environments," the teenage girl said, "Life here is even better than in our hometown, and I'm confident I will make more progress."
Some 107 of the required 114 resettlement townships have been rebuilt in safe regions since the Three Gorges project was launched in 1993.
The Chinese Government has promised the general standard of living for those resettled will be higher than it previously was.
(Xinhua News Agency February 12, 2002)