Sightseeing in Xi’an

We have been multiple times in Xi’an and visited each time some new locations. The most we saw back in 2011 during our first holiday there when my parents were both visiting. Over the years I developed a better understanding about the city compared to my wife who grew up there. She is kind of resisting in learning anything new about her home town and she has zero sense of direction thus making every place we visit new to her even though we had been there before. So how to decide what places to show when friends are coming for a weekend visit?

Peaceful times at the Guangren Temple

Those friends are all from my wife as they were together in the same dormitory when studying in Finland during their first year (in Kajaani to be precise, my wife moved later to Helsinki). All those friends kept close contact over the years even though some moved back to China, others stayed in Finland and we moved to Germany.  Now when we had our holiday in April/ May in China and some of them decided to come over for a visit. All of those friends married and got kids so we had a bit bigger group coming over which required some good planning. My wife had grand plans for her friends, very grand plans. They all failed.

View from the City Wall

They did not fail because of not putting enough heart and time in them. No they failed because my wife didn’t consider two things. First of all she has zero sense of direction and has no clue at all how long it takes to go to some location and second of all she did not consider that her friends mess up plans completletly each time, every single time and are always, really always late. Because of this mess we only saw few sightseeing spots such as the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda with the Fountain show, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, the City Wall, the Muslim Quarter, Guangren Temple, Qinglong Temple, the City God Temple and few other temples of which I have no clue about theirnames any longer.

Some Booze at the Guangren Temple

Just to show you why all planning failed I give you two examples. The complete lack of any kind of sense of direction of my wife lead to a rather embarrassing failure. She had the grand plan of going with all people to the City Wall, walk a bit on it till we reach the city center and go eating in some famous restaurant. You see the City Wall goes all around the old city center and is roughly 14km long.  So we entered the City Wall at the West Gate where my in-laws live. For some unknown reason my wife had the idea that you could walk on the city wall straight to the old city center (note it still goes all around, not through the city…). She had this plan also while facing 36 Degrees Celsius and walking together with little kids. Needless to say everyone gave up after not even managing 800m on the wall (out of the needed 5km on the wall and further 2km walking to the restaurant) and going to eat in some small restaurant near the wall entrance.

#Nathancuty just like a real German tourist, Sandals and Socks! (plus Adidas Shirt)

Now to the problem how her friends mess up plans each time and are always late. On the second day we planned to meet up at 10 in the morning to take a little walk and eat at a restaurant famous for Liangpi. Shortly before we arrived they called us that they just woke up and bought some beef noodles for breakfast. For breakfast! By the time everyone was ready to move it was already 12 and all of them were too full to go eating for the next hours leaving my wife, Nathan and me starving. You might say something like this can happen from time to time but this actually happens each time we meet them (also during our short Finland trip this summer, but that is stuff for another blog article).

Even though nearly everything went wrong what could have gone wrong we still had a great time with them. It was really nice to meet them again and their kids. Sure there were frustrating moments but living each year 3 months with MIL made me kind of immune to such things.

Do you have friends who are always late or mess up all your planning?

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New Apartment Part III

Yes, my first blog post in ages will be about the new apartment my parents in-law have bought. As a reminder here are Part I and Part II of the new apartment blog posts. I know that there should have been some updates here in the past weeks but I was just too lazy and the weather here is just insane. Right now we even wish that it would start to rain again, yes here in North Germany where it normally rains 9 out of 10 days!

We wish for some rain clouds here!

So what is so special about the news from the new apartment in China? Remember that my in-laws had decided to move in towards the end of the year so we still could enjoy the old apartment during our holiday in April/ May. Plans changed again (who would have expected that with my in-laws!) but they changed to a rather good plan. In fact the plan is so great that my father in-law has been seen smiling in the past months, something unknown before. No they don’t sell the new apartment and no they did not win the lottery, it is something much much better for FIL.

According to the new plan MIL will move alone to the new apartment and FIL will stay in the old apartment! That is like the perfect solution for them. So FIL can finally live his way in a calm and peaceful environment while everything is clean while MIL will drown in madness and dirt after a short while. Sure it is sad that the new apartment will be ruined by my dear Chinese mother-in-law but at least her husband seems happy again. I have the feeling it is the  best thing happening to him in decades.

Crazy women dancing

As you might remember the new apartment is not the closest to the old one. By bus you need around 30 min in good conditions and up to 1 hour with traffic jams. MIL insists she will still go to her dancing lessons and evening dancing group meetings. But no, she won’t use a bus, she came up with the plan to use a rental bike! I have seen her ride a bike and I say that plan is utterly stupid. A tortoise with only one leg is faster than her bicycling. The past years we went sometimes by bike to a nearby supermarket. While I need alone roughly 7-8 minutes, I need together with my wife and pulling a bike trailer for our Nathan about 15 min. Now guess how long the same trip took when MIL was riding a bike as well…40 min! I have zero hope in her going anywhere by bike and besides she would get lost anyway and never arrive at her destination, leaving her rental bike somewhere in the middle of nowhere and call a taxi to take her home.

What do you think about my in-law’s new plan?

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Beautiful Osaka

Now we come to our last part of the Japan trip. After a lot of fun in Tokyo and visiting Thomas Land it was time to travel to Osaka. We took the Shinkansen in the late afternoon so we arrived in Osaka in the early evening. Here we had once again an Airbnb house rented and it was just a walking distance away from the Namba station and thus very close to the city center. As we arrived so late we only picked up some food from a convenience store and went to sleep.

At Sumiyoshi taisha

For the following day we met up with the amazing Marina who showed us Sumiyoshi Taisha which is a beautiful old Temple area, Shinsekai and of course Dotonbori. It was great that Marina had time for us as she could give useful advice what else to visit and of course where and what to eat! On that day the weather decided to go crazy as the day started with way too much sun and once we were done with our Lunch (Okonomiyaki in a nice restaurant in Dotonbori) the sky was heavy with grey clouds and it started to rain. In fact it would continue to rain for the next days till our departure!

Shinsekai by night

The rain was also the reason why we visited much fewer places than intended. Sure we manage it in that terrible weather to the Osaka Castle (where we found nearby a wonderful little Curry Restaurant, will never forget it) but that is about it. Our plans for Kobe and Kyoto we had to abandon as it would have been insane to go there in such bad weather conditions with two little kids.  So we stayed those last days in Osaka and tried to make the best out of it. We revisited Dotonbori and Shinsekai a few times, took a ride in the Don Quixote Ferris Wheel, ate a lot, visited few other temples, got lost in the Shinsaibashi shopping streets and in between went back to the house to somehow dry all our clothes.

Yep, Nathan loved them

Even though the weather ruined a lot of our plans for Osaka and visiting the neighbouring cities we still loved it there. Sure the rain wasn’t all  that great but we had a wonderful time there. Osaka felt much more “homely” compared to Tokyo and we certainly liked it. When we come back to Japan I definitely want to revisited Osaka and enjoy some more Okonomiyaki and eat few Takoyaki while looking upon the Glico Man!

Has bad weather ruined your holiday plans 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.

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My crazy Chinese Family I married into…