Category Archives: Chinese Wife

A Weekend in Sotkamo

Back in 2011 we visited my wife’s friends in Sotkamo which is in the in the middle east of Finland. From Helsinki Sotkamo is about 580km away by car which means that it takes over 6 1/2 h to get there. So why my wife has friends in the middle of nowhere of Finland? In 2006 my wife started her studies in Finland. She didn’t study in Helsinki in the beginning but in Kajaani which is roughly 30km to the west of Sotkamo. She stayed there for one year until she found another university and moved to Helsinki. During that one year she made many new friends and one of them she still considers to be her best friend and that is the one we visited back then.

Snow snow and more snow

We went there in December which means that there is snow, too much snow all around and it is cold, too cold! We left our home near Helsinki at 6am in order to arrive at a reasonable time in Sotkamo for lunch. During those morning hours we had about -16 degrees (Celsius ~ 3 degrees Fahrenheit) which was already a challenge for my poor Diesel powered Opel Astra. Nonetheless the car managed somehow however during the drive to Sotkamo the temperatures plummeted sometimes down to -40 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees Fahrenheit). Let me just say that in never got warm inside the car and even the car engine decided not get warm and thus many other things didn’t work such as the Turbo…(really great when the car has suddenly troubles to get up a small hill!).

It was also during that trip that we had our first (and only) car crash. The whole mess happened towards the final 100km of the journey and wasn’t fun at all. You have to imagine having a road covered in a layer own snow which is compressed and thus nearly like ice at such low temperatures. Somehow I got with my right front tire too much to the right where the snow layer was higher and then everything happened rather quick. At over 80km/h (~50 mp/h) the car started spinning around crashing on the opposite lane into the fields just barely missing an oncoming truck. I don’t know how but nothing happened to us or the car! Some driver who saw everything came to our aid and managed to call on some farmer who pulled us out of the field with his tractor for very little money. I will never forget the feeling when I lost control over the car and saw during the spinning motion the truck coming closer and closer.

Getting ready for some cross-country skiing failure

With some delay we managed it finally to Sotkamo where we had our lunch at the friend’s restaurant. Compared to Helsinki Sotkamo was already entirely in the Christmas season with too much snow all around. The little town is known for its skiing resort Vuokatti. It was there I tried my luck to teach my wife how to do cross-country skiing but it didn’t work out so well. In fact my wife gave up after a while so I decided to do a short 2.5 km round but got lost somehow and had to do a 15km round. The skiing center in Vuokatti is very famous in Finland as it offers a variety of possible activities such as downhill skiing, cross-country, ski jumping and there is also a cross-country skiing tunnel which makes training on snow possible during summer time. Though it offers so many sport activties we spent the least time doing any kind of sporty stuff there. My wife had more important things to do with her friends such as talking, eating, watching movies, eating and eating. As said before one of her friends got back then a Chinese restaurant in the town resulting that there was always more than enough food.

As Sotkamo is very small with only 10.000 inhabitants there is also not much to do within the city center. There are some shops around but that’s about it.  During winter it is a perfect place for winter sport enthusiasts and in summer time it offers great hiking trails. What makes this place also interesting is that it is not that far away from the Arctic Circle and Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi where my wife visited once with her friends in 2009 but that is again stuff for another time.

Have you visited a place with more than enough snow to get already annoying for you?

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Nathan’s Crazy Photoshoot

Indeed, our little Nathan had also a crazy photoshoot same as his parents had several years ago in China. Okay it was not only one photoshoot but actually two different ones but that was due to my crazy Chinese mother-in-law. Why? Oh well, she messed up as usual but more about that later on. You might remember that the photoshoot we had back in 2011 is not one of my fondest memories as it was pretty much a day of torture for me. Now just imagine how to make a 1 1/2 year old kid pose for the camera for several hours…yeah it won’t really work.

Meet Nathan the monk

Enough of the introduction and lets talk a bit about the first session Nathan had to endure. Appearently the first company they went to with Nathan was not the perfect one. MIL won from some kind of prize competition a photoshoot for children worth 500RMB. This was pretty great at first until they went to that place as everything was kind of run down and broken plus some of the items the children are supposed to pose with were empty German beer kegs. Each and every single thing was broken there and dusty enough that you might think that the place was a movie setting from Tatooine. The next problem were the clothes for Nathan. My wife brought some clothes she had ordered beforehand from Taobao and it was a good decision to do so as barely any clothes they had at the photoshoot were fitting or any good-looking for our little one. Needless to say my wife was not pleased at all about where her mother had taken them but MIL had already excuses as nothing is ever her fault. In the end she blamed her friend whom she had asked about the location and this friend said it was okay. So no way on earth it was MIL’s fault by not checking out this company beforehand!

Posing with a beer keg

Apparently it was also not Nathan’s best day as he was very grumpy but I guess it was also due to the jet lag as it was just few days after the arrival in China. I don’t know how but through some dark magic the photographer managed in those two hours of demon baby running around to get few decent shots. You know when you pose for some pictures you know where to stand as the photographer will give you basic commands what to do, how to smile etc. This does not work with a little kid. Everything and really everything is just pure luck. Little Nathan the Satan won’t just stand there holding a toy airplane and smile into the camera, no…he will take that airplane, throw it in some corner, turn around and crawl somewhere as crawling on a dusty ground is so much cooler than walking. In the end some pictures ended up pretty well and my in-laws even got a huge picture for their wall (the monk picture above).

Pumpkin tastes good

The second photoshoot company was a total different matter. My wife spent several days researching all about this topic until she settled on one company. Everything also went well except two things which somehow happens every single time we have to be somewhere at a certain time. First of all MIL never wants to “book” a taxi as according to her it is no problem to get a taxi on the street. Yes, usually it is not a problem but when your appointment is around the time the taxi drivers have their shift change it is a huge problem. This always results that the heavily crowded busses are the main mean of transportation. The next problem is that it is impossible for my in-laws and my wife to find the right location. I don’t know if it is normal in China but it happens all the time with them. They roughly know where to go and it pretty much stops there already. Going around buildings and asking people where to go for at least one hour is nothing special. Now you can see why for this photoshoot Nathan was nearly two hours late resulting that a long waiting time was needed as the photo appointments of other children which were supposed to be after Nathan were suddenly before him (thank you MIL).

Coolest Monk ever

This second place was the exact opposite of the first company. Everything was clean, only few things were broken and the staff was pretty good in cheering up the kids to make them smile. Furthermore they did not push with one child through the whole session but gave after 5-10 min  the kids (and the family) some rest and took pictures with another child. Though Nathan was still very great in avoiding in front of the camera what he was supposed to do the photographer adapted always quickly to the new situations and was able to take many great pictures in the end. Also the whole family left less exhausted and annoyed than after the first photoshoot as everything (except the arrival) went very smooth.

What are your experiences when it comes to take pictures of children?

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Hopeless Plans

Our China holidays are getting closer and closer. Sure I am very happy and can’t wait for the trip however I am also worried. The thing is that my wife got again some plans on what we should do there and what places to visit. For any outsider this must sound great but you just don’t know my wife so let me explain.

One of my biggest victories: Getting my couch potato wife up the mountain

Over the years we had many plans to travel around when being in China. Those plans always stayed plans as there is something magical happening as soon as my wife enters her parents home. The person who had all those great ideas about visiting some nice places basically disintegrates in front of my eyes as the couch potatoeism spreads through her body. Yes, my wife is a notorious coach potato when being in China. There is no bigger joy for her than lying on the sofa, having her favorite snacks and drinks within arms reach and watching TV all day long. Within seconds all plans are forgotten or not important enough anymore. Who wants to see the beautiful nature in Jiuzhaigou 九寨沟 when you have the 100th rerun of 武林外传 My own Swordsman in the TV, some bubble tea and 大白兔White Rabbit candy?

I think you understand now the dilemma I am facing as my wife is starting to make all kinds of plans for our upcoming holiday. Each time she gets me excited about all those places we plan to visit and in the end we just stay for several weeks in Xi’an and the only times she leaves the apartment on her on free will is in order to go out eating. So what has she planned thus far? Now she no longer wants to visit places in China but is doing research on nice travel destination in Asia which we can reach rather quick (and cheap) from China. Few months ago she made some plans to go to the Jeju Island as her parents had invited us for such trip. Then suddenly she started checking on Thailand but then it was Jeju Island again. This morning she woke me up by pushing her mobile phone in my face. No, she didn’t try to kill me but to show some wonderful pictures of Bali.

Some river in some mountains

While still in bed she started searching for plane tickets, hotels and whatnot all. She even contacted one friend in China if she wants to come with us there together with her little family (they also got a one year old child). Right now I am myself looking up what Bali is offering for tourists and sad but true, I am excited about it. By now I should have learned from the past years but still I really get hyped every time she makes plans because somehow I still have hope that one of those plans will become reality. Though our big plans never worked out we still went sometimes at least to nice places around Xi’an such as Mount Hua or the Mountain Range near Qinghua Mountain. However these destinations are far from the original plans we had before each holiday in China. For now I also hope that MIL won’t suddenly decide it would be a great idea to join us in case the Bali plan ever becomes reality!


Are you a couch potato?

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