Family Gathering

This weekend we had just our first Family Gathering since 2005. Back in the day it was organized, just like all the previous Family Gatherings, by my Uncle who passed away a few years after that last meeting. For twelve years we did not meet in such a way again until my cousin (daughter of my uncle) decided to change this and started contacting us last autumn.

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The old boys playing some game together (cousin and my brother), in the background my father

First of all it started with a simple family group chat on WhatsApp and from then on the planning progressed quickly (Even my 75 year old father is in that group). The destination for the gathering was found in short time as it was the same place the family had met before. In my case I was around ten years of age when I was there for the first and only time. Back then the group was much smaller as none of the many cousins had children. Even at our last gathering in 2005 there were still many children not yet born. For this meeting we had ten kids making it a total of 21 family members at this gathering. This is the “close” family we have here in Germany. I doubt we would ever manage to plan a Gathering for the entire family as it could easily reach up to 150 people or more.

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All in one group picture

The little village called Tönning was our meeting place right by the North Sea. It is a fairly small village with just 5000 inhabitants. Due to its location it was an important sea port till the end of the 19th century. Then the Kiel Canal was built which made the route via the Eider river obsolete. These days the historical port is a tourist destination with lovely old houses which have been transformed into restaurants and hotels. Just few minutes from our hotel is the Multimar Wattforum which is an information center for the Wadden Sea National Park. This place is just great for kids as they can learn everything about the Wadden Sea from the tides over the important work of the many different worms to the big sharks and wales living in the North Sea. I’d say we all enjoyed the time spent there and it was just so fascinating to see what animals are all living there.

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Later at the dinner (table with tons of kids not shown is to the left)

Later that day we all had a lovely dinner together which lasted until the late evening hours. All in all it was a wonderful time and so great to see all of my cousins again. Especially Nathan had a great time with so many other kids around playing with him. By the end he was so exhausted that he started to fall asleep while sitting at the dinner table. Even my late Uncle was present at the dinner in form of a picture one of his daughters had brought with her portraying him with a big small and raising a pint. The good thing about our close family is that we all live in the same State and that from my hometown (which is right in the middle of the State) it is to each one of my cousins it just take a bit over one hour by car. Now I just hope that we will be able to organize such gathering again in the near future and not to wait another twelve years. We have high hopes to have such meeting again perhaps next year!

Do you have family gatherings?

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Real Competence Vol. 2

I honestly did not expect to write so soon again about the competence of my dear Chinese mother-in-law. Back in November I wrote about her most recent disasters and I must say it helped a lot to let it all out. However she did not stop there and the whole madness accumulated till now to unbearable levels.

All the misshappenings of her always have either one of these reasons

  1. She does NOT listen!
  2. She decides ON HER OWN what is best!

Usually I have nothing against when people decide on their own what to do as long as it does not affect us negatively. The problem is that each and every single of her own decisions has only created trouble for us.

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I have this situation under control!

Now I am going to tell you just one story which lasted for a couple of months. In those couple of months both of the reasons of Chaos happened. It all involved that we wanted to transfer some money from China to Germany. As over 95% of our customers are from China they pay in RMB and that money stays for a while there. We keep it always in China for a while as we have to wait for the best exchange rate. The thing is we are only a small small company and can not afford staff in China and thus in order to do all the money related things we are stuck with MIL. She takes care of all the money transactions and I know that sounds very scary. We wanted father-in-law for this job but MIL ain’t going to give any money into FIL’s care. So what could possibly go wrong?

First of all she told us one day “I can’t send this year any money anymore. The banks are only allowing X Amount of Euros per year per person”. Okay that sounds reasonable but that got us thinking how on earth other small businesses run by Chinese can possibly continue their work when they run out of money in between. So my wife asked around and they all answered that they have several accounts in the different banks so it is no problem. My wife told this her mother and she said it is not possible. Strange, very strange why would it be different in our case? After days of annoying MIL about this topic she then finally answered “Oh, I don’t want to exchange and send the money from the other accounts as they might have higher handling fees.” What? She knew about it the entire time and let us run dry on money on several occasions because the other banks MIGHT have higher handling fees? Why on earth would we care about few RMB higher fees when we have a business to run? My dear wife all furious asked her mother about it but no reply for nearly the whole day. Later that day she send a message “Oh, I had a long nap, didn’t see your messages till now”…a 6 hour nap, alright.

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I am the best, even this big fish knows it

Sounds bad? It will just get worse. The money we earn stays always for a few months in China due to the exchange rate. My wife checks daily when it might be the best time for changing it and then tells her mother to do so. Guess how often we got the reply “Oh, you should have told me sooner, I exchanged it just few days/ weeks ago”. Indeed she found thus far always the worst exchange rates and thus destroying some of our money. This is the reason my wife told her last time not to change all the money but just a small part of it. No, somehow that message never arrived in MIL’s brain as she did the exact opposite and now we get to the part where she sends the money to us.

Since the beginning of the year the whole banking system changed a bit once again and now you can only pick from a few “Reasons” when transferring money abroad. MIL told us all of those reasons we can choose from and it all didn’t really make sense. There was stuff like “Needed for travels”, “Buying an apartment abroad”, “Investment” and stuff like that. Mh, strange and none of the things we could select did fit our purpose. Again my wife did all kind of research and in fact there was one reason which fit our purpose but MIL never mentioned it. In order nothing could go wrong my wife got herself the form , filled it all out and send it to her mother to use when transferring the money. Now we got the money but hey: The reason did not fit at all with what was on the form and also the amount of money was wrong. Thing is MIL had ignored the printed form entirely and just freestyled everything. Furious wife sent MIL again dozens of messages which were not replied till the next day “I was at dancing class and afterwards I was just too tired to check my phone”. Too tired to check her phone? In fact she shared on WeChat (kind of the Chinese version of WhatsApp) all kinds of weird stories of other people for the whole day but she could not answer her daughters messages.

P.S. by now we got it more or less figured out with MIL when it comes to transferring money. However this whole story meant also countless of hours harassing the local tax office/ getting our tax statement right as MIL had messed up so badly.

Do you have experiences with people who do always the exact opposite of what you told them?

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 I also have a YouTube Channel in which some videos might pop up from time to time

https://www.facebook.com/CrazyChineseFamily

https://twitter.com/CraChineseFam

https://www.youtube.com/

A Day to Remember

Here is another little story I wanted to share already for a long time. I really do wonder why I didn’t write about it before but well better late than never.

This whole annoyance happened back in 2015 when we were flying to China. I had everything planned out on how we get from our home to the central bus station and from there to the airport. The day started even well (except that I was pretty ill back then) and we got our taxi to the bus station without problems. The bus also arrived in time and the entire trip to the airport went without problems. But then the nightmare started and it lasted nearly the whole day.

First of all my wife had the wrong residence permit with her (The Finnish one, not the needed German) but we were able to settle that after some time. The next problem was at the customs as we had some products with us for our customers. The line there was just huge and we saw the time running away to get to the gate. After the customs we were relieved as there was still time left but oh no, more troubles were ahead. One big trouble was the security check where we found out that one of the products was a mixer and we completely had forgotten about the nice blade placed within it. The option now was 1. throw the thing away or 2. someone had to run back to the check-in to get the bag with the mixer inside as an extra luggage.

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All is still well at the bus station

Turns out I was the one to run to the check-in and the staff was so friendly to declare that suitcase as an extra luggage for Nathan and thus it was for free. What joy I felt in that moment and I really did believe now all of our troubles were over. Well while as I had this brief moment of joy my wife had other struggles at the security check as her laptop had to be checked for explosives and this whole stress made Nathan a very very upset little boy. Upset equals a lot of crying and thus making it also very hard for mommy. Even these troubles we survived and we were looking forward to just relax a bit before flying to Helsinki.

Flying to Helsinki? Not going to happen! Just as we had few minutes to calm down we heard the announcement that the flight to Helsinki was delayed by two hours. Those two hours would mean that we miss our connecting flight to Xi’an. All the stress began anew and we rushed to the gate to get more information. There we were told that all passengers with connecting flights to China got a new flight via Lufthansa going from Hamburg to Frankfurt, from Frankfurt to Beijing and then for us from Beijing to Xi’an. All in all over 23 hours instead of our booked flight with only 10 hours! We weren’t happy at all so we had to go back to the check-in area to the Service Center to make some complaints. Result was that we still had to catch that flight to Frankfurt and we needed to hurry as the Gate was closing in 15 minutes. Now the problem was that we still needed to get our luggage from the Baggage Claims. In all the hurry (only 5 minutes left!) we forgot one suitcase but we wouldn’t realize that until much later. As we ran with the staff to the Gate we saw our plane slowly rolling away…

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Brief moment of rest before finding out that the flight is delayed

Now we had to go back to the Service Center. There my wife was already in a terrible mood and it escalated into a shouting match between her and some of the staff. Meanwhile I was busy entertaining Nathan somehow who got also grumpier by the minute. After what felt like an eternity we got another flight and this one was leaving once again in just 30 minutes. So all the running madness began again (I think I do not need to point out that we had to do the security check each time we passed between the areas + having the same stupid explosive check with our laptop). Half way through the running we finally realized that one suitcase was missing. Down I ran with the staff to the Baggage Claim just to find out after spending 20 minutes there that our suitcase had by now taken its flight to Helsinki with the delayed machine. By now we had in fact already spent 6 hours at the airport, running here and there with our 1 1/2 year old son without resting, eating or drinking something. Of course we missed our new flight as well due to the delay at the Baggage Claim.

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More than two days later Nathan is exhausted in FIL’s arms

Exhausted we had to go back to the Service Center once again and the staff there was not all too happy to see my wife again in front of them. I don’t know what all happened in the following hours but it involved me going down to the Baggage Claim to the Lost & Found desk to somehow find the missing suitcase which was by now somewhere in Helsinki (indeed it was kind of lost as the tracking number was gone), my wife having an emotional breakdown and Nathan getting very exhausted and more grumpy. In the end we settled for taking the next flight to Xi’an via Helsinki two days later. We spent 11 hours at the airport, running the whole day and did not eat or drink anything during the entire time. As we got back home we were just dead tired and went to sleep after eating a bit.

This has been thus far our worst flight experience as it was a day where nothing worked out at all, everything going wrong. Two days later everything went as smooth as it could go. I must also add that the staff at the Hamburg Airport did an excellent job by helping us out and not to actually trying to kill my wife.

What was your worst experience when it comes to flying/ being stucked at the airport.

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 I also have a YouTube Channel in which some videos might pop up from time to time

https://www.facebook.com/CrazyChineseFamily

https://twitter.com/CraChineseFam

https://www.youtube.com/

My crazy Chinese Family I married into…