Slow pace of life makes foreigners feel at home

Updated: Nov 5, 2019 By Yuan Shenggaoo China Daily Print
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As a city with an inclusive culture and vibrant way of life, Chengdu has become a popular choice for foreigners who live or work in China.

Frenchman David Tabacznyj has lived in Chengdu for 14 years. He regards himself as a local and refuses to be called laowai - Chinese term to describe a foreigner.

In 2003, he visited Chengdu. At that time, he worked at a Fortune Global 500 company in Jiangsu province. On his travels, he has visited multiple regions of China, including Yunnan province, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Sichuan province. He had initially planned to stay in Chengdu for two days, but was awed by the city's charm and decided to stay for two weeks.

After returning to France, China remained on his mind, especially Chengdu. In 2005, Tabacznyj studied in Sichuan province and then worked as a French teacher there. After that, he opened his very own cafe in Chengdu.

"I was planning to stay in Chengdu for two or three years. It turns out I have been here for 14 years," he said. In 2007, he met his wife at his cafe and now the couple has a four-year-old child.

Tabacznyj said he likes the lifestyle in Chengdu - he loves drinking tea in tea houses, savoring the local cuisine and even enjoys getting his ears professionally cleaned - a very local specialty in Chengdu.

Dieter Vanonckelen from Belgium operates a bar and restaurant in Chengdu. He has lived in the city for a decade and says he doesn't intend on leaving any time soon.

He also runs several new media platforms to share his experiences and lifestyle in Chengdu, as well as to provide advice and organize activities for foreigners living in the city.

"We help many foreigners when they first arrive to better adapt to the city. I feel good about that," he said, adding he believes his business will benefit as the city becomes more international.

"Chengdu is a paradise especially for food lovers. You can always find a good restaurant here," he said. "If you ask me to recommend any one, I pick hotpot."

Vanonckelen recently became interested in running and has participated in several marathons in Chengdu. With the expansion of the greenways, it has become a local lifestyle trend to exercise and relax there. He added that the greenways meet the needs of running lovers.

Raz Galor, an Israeli social media personality in China, said Chengdu is one of the most fun, open and dynamic cities and is an ideal destination for foreign visitors.

Galor has made a name for himself by interviewing foreigners in China, and has over 1 million fans online. He said he recommends Chengdu not only because of the spicy food and giant pandas but also because its culture and lifestyle are very youth-oriented.

"Chengdu is creative. The diverse cultures and inclusiveness attract many young content producers," Galor said.

As the awareness of Chengdu becomes more global, more and more people are expected to visit, stay and set up businesses in the city.

Chengdu currently has 17,400 permanent foreign residents.

The number of foreign visitors in Chengdu now ranks first among all cities in Midwest China.

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