Strawberries and Raisins

During our trip in China this year we really just started to see how different many things are. I don’t mean basics such as language, culture or anything like that. It is more the “think big” mentality in so many aspects especially buildings. Let’s take shopping malls as an example. Growing up in Europe I have visited too many shopping malls over the years. I always thought that they are pretty huge but oh boy was I wrong after really visiting multiple ones this time in China. While the shopping malls are big in Europe (the ones I have visited in several countries at least) they still don’t go overboard and usually just offer enough space for the shops and few restaurants, nothing more.

We were not even at the bottom of that side wing of the mall

In China it is a bit different, very much different. Alone the malls we have visited in Xi’an are just not normal in any way. For example there is the one mall with just some kind of glass roof (of course not glass, some other new transparent material which is like 90% lighter than glass or something like that) without any real walls. So you have that nice roof against the rain and the shops and restaurants are located in some smaller buildings beneath it. Now what will protect you in the hottest summer months from melting on the spot when walking around there as there is of course no air condition? Water mist of course! All around the pathways and buildings water mist is being sprayed every five minutes or so to cool down the air. I have seen similar before but that was on a totally different scale compared to this huge shopping center. Besides this very interesting cooling system there are some attractions such as a huge pillar covered in LED panels which sometimes looks like a giant tree or at other times like a crystal. Furthermore there is a gigantic “waterfall” which sprays water in certain rhythm combined with some music every hour or so. It is hard to explain so check out the picture and of course the Instagram post I had back then.

Some kind of musicish, lightish, waterish thingy thing

 

Then there is the nice other mall which has probably more restaurants on one floor compared to my hometown and all its surrounding villages combined. It is just insane to have that many different restaurants in one mall, it took us one hour to actually select one we liked as there were just too many to choose from. Besides that the mall also has a waterfall, okay not one waterfall but several spanning over five or six floors with gold fishes in the ponds in between. Sadly I do not have a picture of that as I was first of all too amazed by it, then I was too hungry to hold the camera and third of all I was scared for my life as thousands of other people were streaming through the passageways in that mall and I tried not be trampled to death.

Exhausted from eating

I do not know why these experiences amazed me so much this time in China. For some reason I experience China each time a bit different or to be more precise I realize or learn something new and different during each visit. I had been in so many malls before in China but those visits never flashed me like this year. Strawberries and raisins anyone? Yes I can change topics in such smooth way but now you will learn what I mean with that headline.

Yay for a the looks of that cake

Our dear Nathalie had her first birthday in China and we had to celebrate it with the whole family. One certain thing had to be at the celebration as well, one thing  we had to walk and wait ages for: the birthday cake. This cake looked so great (and cute) now guess my horror when I took the first bite of that great looking strawberry cake to taste raisins. Yes raisins. Why on earth anybody in this world would add raisins into a strawberry cake? This was officially the worst cake I have ever tried in my life. This is something you give someone you hate, not love! Writing this I got goosebumps again from that horrid memory this cake has caused. Thankfully Nathalie is still too young to  have any memory of this experience but I am still in shock how the whole rest of the family had apparently no problems with that cake and even stated how good it tasted.

Trying to take a group picture with Nathan, impossible…

 

Have you ever tasted something like a strawberry raisin cake?

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Our new family member Haruki the Shiba

Everyone who follows me on social media might have seen that a tiny little puppy popped up in my feeds in the past two weeks. In fact that puppy kept us so busy that this blog post had to wait till now as there was just no time last weekend.

Two weeks ago I went to an official dog breeder together with Nathan to pick up our Shiba Inu puppy Haruki. My wife had no idea about this whole matter the entire time and was pretty shocked. When she saw Nathan carrying a little puppy she thought I had borrowed him from some friend or program. Well it really seems that I kept all my research and reaching out to multiple breeders over the past year a very good secret.

Haruki just a bit over 8 weeks old, right after we got him

Back in Finland we were playing already with the idea of getting a dog. My wife always wanted some small dog breed like Pomeranian while I prefered a Samoyed. As you might see (in case you have some ideas about dog breeds) that both of them are in fact Spitz. However we gave up on the idea as our apartment in Finland was just too small and we planned on moving to Germany. Then in 2014 just a month before moving away from Finland a friend of us visited us with her new Shiba Inu puppy Tsuki. It was that first meeting with a Shiba that got me hooked.

The little fox

During the first few years here in Germany I put the idea of getting a dog aside as many things happened with my work, getting sick, starting our own business and the birth of Nathalie. But then last year just few months after Nathalie was born the first one of our little bunnies passed away. It was then that I started researching about Shiba Inus again and reaching out to Shiba breeders in Germany. Let me tell you that it is so hard to even reserve a Shiba puppy as there are only few breeders in Germany and most of them are in South Germany while we live in the very North. To make matters worse these dogs usually give birth to only 2-3 puppies.

Haruki now with already over ten weeks old, what a sad looking little fellow

During this summer when we were still in Finland (and met once again with Tsuki the Shiba from our friend of which I posted also on Instagram) I finally found per chance a Shiba breeder just 1 1/2 hours away from our hometown and they just got three little healthy puppies. I immediately contacted them and set up a meeting to check out the puppies. As my wife was not allowed to know at all about this I had to make up some excuses to drive 150km away so I told her that I was going to check out some cars with my brother as he was actually even searching for a new one back then (and he is still…). My wife believed it without any questions and thus I met the three-week old puppies and reserved Haruki immediately.

You give me food now or what?

Now fast forward to the 1st of September I told my wife that I would be going to some meeting from Kindergarten with Nathan and once again she believed me. She was not even questioning me when I took the car even though the Kindergarten is just 200m away from our building. I also posted a picture on Instagram of Haruki on Instagram when I picked him up. And then we arrived back home with a puppy and she did not believe me at all, only after I told her to contact our friend in Finland who has a Shiba and ask her, she slowly started to realize that our family got another baby.

Sleeping is great

Our little Haruki kept as rather busy thus far but it got better and better the past days. By now I don’t even need to get up in the middle of the night to let him out and he sleeps till we get up. In fact he spends most of the day sleeping, cleaning himself like a cat, playing for a short time, eating and making cat-like sounds rather than barking. No this is not unusual for Shiba’s as they are a bit different from many dog breeds. I heard from other people that their dogs are so lazy that they fall asleep while taking a walk!

Do you have a dog or are planning for one?

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Helsinki, Moominworld and Brahehus

Now to the second installment of our holidays in Finland. I can’t say really why but even though Helsinki plays such big part of this trip I only have one single pictures from it! It might be because I lived there way too long or took last time enough pictures? No idea. So after one week at my parents cottage we drove to Helsinki to meet up with a lot of friends. With a lot of friends I mean really a lot to visit in just two days. Especially on our second day we had a tough schedule in which we met up with someone every hour from 10am till 6pm.

Only picture from Helsinki at Linnanmäki

But now to the beginning of the Helsinki trip. We were already late as we run into tons of traffic jams on the way which meant that we arrived 2 hours late to Linnanmäki the theme park in Helsinki to meet up with several Chinese friends. With Chinese friends I mean exactly the ones I wrote about meeting in Xi’an so you might guess what all went wrong in just two days. We had in Helsinki a lovely place to stay just 10min by car from the city center. However this meant that we were nearly one hour away from any other place we had to visit, talk about excellent planning again by my wife (just as in Xi’an!).

Edward the Booble at the Bath house

The second day we were supposed to meet with our Chinese friends at Ikea at 10am and then eat there later lunch. Yes, it did not work out that way. When we left at 9am and were half way to Ikea we got a call that they were just preparing once again beef noodles for breakfast. Yep, we had to reschedule everything, meet with other friends first and then went to Ikea to eat lunch on our own. Much later our friends arrived so we had coffee and cake with them. The rest of our Helsinki time was spent on meeting with other friends, checking on our old apartment and rushing on the third day to get early enough to our next location.

Nathan is not too sure what to think about this

The third day which was day number 10 in Finland we drove to Moominworld. From Helsinki it is a bit less than a three-hour drive as you will get stuck behind slow cars all the time. What to say about Moominworld? It is just a wonderful place for little children and also for adults. The amount of Japanese tourists was rather interesting but then again Moomins are still a big thing in Japan and they just opened/ are about to open a Moomin Theme Park over there. We had perfect (too hot) weather and explored the whole theme park for several hours. Everywhere you can find buildings from the different inhabitants of the Moomin Valley and character are walking around and interact with the visitors. We really enjoyed our time there even though Nathan was not too fond of meeting some of the character, especially Stinky and The Groke.

Brahehus

After Moominworld we drove to Turku Harbour to take our ferry back to Sweden. Well the drive through Sweden was nothing special once again but we had a longer stop at the Brahehus at Lake Vättern. Brahehus is an old ruin of a castle which sits about 270m above sea level. From there you have a stunning view over the countryside and especially over the Lake Vättern. The lake itself is so big that you can’t even see the other side. The entire length around the shore of that lake is around 300km, so it is a pretty big lake. At the castle we enjoyed the view and Nathan tried his best in boulder climbing but his mom and grandma were not so fond of it as it was rather high up there. After that trip we drove once again to my Uncle for a night and then left early morning to the second long drive through Danmark and back to Germany. With this our Finland holidays ended and normal working life got back immediately as we started work the same evening we arrived home.

Have you heard about Moomins before?

Be sure to follow me also on Facebook and on Twitter as I will post there occasionally pictures which do not find their way into my blog posts. Furthermore there is also my Instagram account in which from time to time some pictures and short videos might pop up.

My crazy Chinese Family I married into…

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