Sun Qing and her husband are among millions of farmers who have moved to the city for a better life. The 36-year-old from the northeast spoke to Vivian Wu about the leap from life on the land to working as a cleaner in a five-star Beijing hotel. What was your life like in your home town? Did you see the recent popular comedy series on television about the life of farmers in the northeast provinces? That's quite similar to my life back there. My husband and I were farming a big piece of land ... but we could not earn much several years ago when the government levied heavy taxes. The weather had also been terrible and we only received several thousand yuan a year. I thought this was unfair so we left. Before becoming a cleaner, I worked as a vegetable seller with my husband and business was good. But getting up at 3am was too tough and I quit about two years ago. Do you regret leaving farming? Yes, sometimes I do. Over the past few years, the government reduced some of the tax burden and I heard the income of villagers back home is higher. Before heading to Beijing, we leased the land to others and collected a mere 4,000 yuan a year for a 10-year lease. If we continued to farm we would no doubt be earning more, but who could have known the situation would improve? What's it like being a cleaner? It's really tiring ... I get up at 5am every day and take the bus to the hotel at 6.30. I work non-stop until lunchtime when we are allowed a short rest. In this luxury hotel with such high sanitary requirements, cleaners work to keep every tiny piece of wall, glass and carpet clean. The hotel maintains a strict check on us. Even if nobody checks on me, I will still work as I should, because I think I should be honest to myself by doing everything well. We are paid 600 yuan a month, for eight hours a day and ... work provides a nice lunch worth 12 yuan and free showers. Making money is never easy. I feel pressured working around the wealthy and sometimes I feel depressed. But I managed to get used to it. My heart has been empty and insecure since coming to Beijing. This will never be my home, I always feel we are just vagabonds in the city. The only reason for me to stay here is so my son can receive a better education. I hope my son can become a teacher. What do you think of Beijing? It's big and civilised. I realise I have become more polite and cultivated after living here. For example, in the market, I once hit a woman by accident with my trolley and said, 'I didn't do that on purpose'. That's a common way for people to apologise in my home town. But she thought I was trying to quibble. I know I should be more polite and say, 'I'm sorry'. But years ago I thought it was shameful to say sorry. That's a big cultural clash between urban and rural areas.