Household service expands
Granny Wang was overjoyed when she unlocked the door of her apartment and saw a clean and tidy flat.
Wang, a resident of Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang Province, had been away for a couple of weeks, travelling to another city for a family reunion to celebrate the lunar New Year.
She was thankful she had entrusted the administration staff at her residential community with the care of her home.
Holiday house care services like this have expanded from simple house keeping to taking care of elderly people, pets and even extend to taking care of flowers and plants. It has become an increasingly popular and thriving business in Hangzhou.
The increasing number of people leaving their hometowns to study or work elsewhere means their homes are left unattended to.
Also, Chinese now enjoy three seven-day-long holidays every year, including the Chinese New Year and National Day on October 1. All this creates a market for people who are willing to take care of houses, pets, and plants and flowers left behind.
One Hangzhou resident surnamed Gu is still upset about the death from starvation of her three beloved goldfish during the last May 1 holiday.
"I should have asked someone else to take care of them," said Gu.
In Hangzhou, the holiday care service is done by three main groups, residential communities, volunteers, and by companies.
Services provided by the first two groups come free of charge.
But firms charge from 20 to 30 yuan (US$2.4 to 3.6) to look after a pet, and 5 yuan (60 US cents) to care for a pot of flowers.
Some domestic household companies also supply temporary services to take care of elderly people during the holidays.
(China Daily 02/22/2005 page3)