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Amazing Quedlinburg

The town Quedlinburg is something very different from the normal places we have visited thus far. You might remember how fascinated I was by the historic Old Town of Prague but Quedlinburg is on another level. Not that this city is bigger than Prague or more Grand (rather the opposite with only 24.000 inhabitants) but Quedlinburg has its own charm which makes it appear like a town from a fairytale. In 1994 the castle, church and old town were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

View from our apartment

In the beginning of the 90’s I was once in Quedlinburg with my family. I do not remember too much except that I was amazed by all the old buildings and also sad that so many were falling apart. You see after WWII Quedlinburg (nearly nothing was damaged during the war) belonged to East Germany and there were little to no efforts to restore the old buildings. There were even plans to destroy the entire old town and build there the wonderful East German apartment blocks instead. Thankfully there was not enough money so barely anything was torn down during those decades.

#Nathancuty with his new rainboots

After the Reunification the city was slowly restored and by now there are barely any buildings left in poor condition. The city has over 1300 half-timbered houses with the oldest was being built around 1300 A.D. and towering over it all is the Burgberg (Castle Mountain). On the Burgberg you can find the Abbesses’ Palace and the St. Servatius church. The construction of the church started back in 1070 and was finished in 1129. It is said that Henry the Fowler was offered the German Crown in Quedlingburg in 919 and he is also buried there. His widow Matilda founded the Quedlinburg Abbey and the city was basically ruled by women after that for 800 years till the French invasion under Napoleon who also disbanded the abbey.

Münzenberger Klause, can only recommend this restaurant

We stayed in a holiday apartment right in the Old Town. Of course that building was also one of the many historical buildings in the town. Walking around the town gives you a very strange feeling as everything around you is from another time. Wherever you look you see historical buildings and I really had to hold back with my camera there. We had bad luck on our visit as it was raining but it didn’t stop us going around the entire day to discover as much as possible. Nathan was so amazed, especially by the Burgberg as it really looks like a medieval castle. For lunch we went to the Münzenberger Klause, a wonderful traditional German restaurant which just fits perfectly the historical surroundings. Sadly we had no chance to try the famous Quedlinburger Cheesecake as we had lunch a bit too late and by the time we had some room in our stomachs all the bakeries were closed already.

More wonderful buildings

Besides the bad weather during our stay we had also the (bad) luck of having the guild festival starting on our visit. Usually I have nothing against some events like that but too many places were just covered by music stages and food stalls. Interesting is that there are barely any tourists from outside Europe. Somehow Quedlinburg is still something like a hidden gem and despite the guild fest it was nowhere crowded unlike Prague. I must say that we planned way too less time in Quedlinburg by staying there only one night and leaving early morning to our next destination. At least two or three nights are really needed to see as much as possible in the city and of course in the surroundings. Perhaps next year we might go there again as two dear friends are getting married next summer in Weimar which is not “that far” from Quedlinburg and more or less even on the way.

Do you know some “hidden gems” when it comes to places to visit?

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City Tour Extreme: Day Three, Hangzhou and Wuzhen

I warned you in the last post that the torturous city tour did not end at day two with the trips to Yangzhou and Suzhou.  Day three is the day when it really got out of hand with an insane plan for the day. It meant once again hours in a bus too small for humans, a howling monkey tour guide doing her best to keep us awake, tourist trap stops and spending too less time in the cities. Please not that this post is a bit longer as it was a very long day.

So I ended last post with the remark that we went to our hotel and were able to enjoy some eatable dinner. The hotel, as mentioned last time, was surprisingly good. In fact it was nearly a five-star hotel, everything was clean, no tobacco smell anywhere, a bathroom bigger than the first hotels main room and a nice view from our room at the 17th floor. My father and I were already looking forward to the breakfast as the previous days that part was never something good. Oh boy, we should never ever have hopes in China it seems. You see, first of all we went to breakfast at 6:30 which meant it was nearly one hour before normal breakfast time for this hotel. At first glance it even looked good until we realized that under nearly all the food covers at the buffet only emptiness was awaiting us. So what food was ready this time? Indeed, mantou and some more mantou BUT there I found coffee and even milk. Big mistake again. The coffee was undrinkable as it appeared that they used 1/5 with actual super strong coffee, 1/5 with milk (or something similar to it) and last but not least 3/5 of sugar. After one sip my stomach was in turmoil so I grabbed the milk and big surprise it was hot milk with a weird aftertaste. The time between this experience and the bus leaving for Hangzhou I spent in the bathroom…

A huge Buddha covered with pearls

Hangzhou was our next city on the agenda roughly 2 1/2 hours by bus. However after 30 minutes we stopped at a Pearl Museum. It sounded very nice and started off so well. There was this museum guide explaining the history of the freshwater pearls in China and how one scholar figured out how to cultivate them successfully back in the day. There were wonderful pearls on display, a dress full of pearls worn by Cixi 慈禧 and even a Buddha statue covered in pearls. As you might guess it was just the beginning which was nice at this museum because as we were walking to the next room we were suddenly in the biggest pearl selling place I have ever seen. First there were several rooms filled with hundred if not thousands of tourist at the different pearl selling stands. It was so loud and crowded, just so unbelievable how the whole scenery changed from a nice museum tour into this tourist trap within seconds. After we managed somehow to get out of those pearl selling rooms we were out of nowhere surrounded by vinegar selling stands then in the next room it was all about clothes and and and. We went from room to room, from floor to floor for about half hour until we finally got out. I am not kidding that they basically had everything to sell there what you might find in a huge mall, from jewelery over toys and clothes to food.

Main square at Song Cheng

After this wonderful tourist trap stop we went on with our journey to Hangzhou. I don’t think I need to mention again how comfortable this trip was. The first destination in Hangzhou was Song Cheng, a large theme park with the architectural style based on the painting “Along the River during the Qingming Festival” by Zhang Zeduan. Once again it was just huge there and despite the terrible weather (yes, it was still raining) it was packed with people. My wife loved this place as she had watched before an episode of “Hurry Up, Brother or Running Man” 奔跑吧兄弟 which was shot in that theme park. I must say it was really nice there but of course we had just too little time there. The nice howling monkey reminded us once again that we had 60 minutes on our own there until the show “Romance of the Song Dynasty” would start. This gave us only time to visit few things there such as one of the great haunted houses (my wife is still scared) and a couple of amusement rides for Nathan. The show itself was incredible and what was even more incredible was that it was just huge there, the biggest theatre hall I have ever seen. All in all this was once again a place you could easily spend an entire day to see it all.

West Lake with the Leifeng Pagoda in the background

Again it was time for a bus trip for a half hour to reach the West Lake. There a little “ship cruise” was planned and while waiting for the ship/ tiny boat we could enjoy the beautiful scenery there. We could see the Leifeng Pagoda and the Jingci Temple on the opposite side of the lake. The ship cruise itself wasn’t that interesting except that we saw one ridiculous ship which looked like a giant dragon. As our howling monkey got lost in the park trying to find the way back to the bus we passed by many interesting spots within this park but sadly it was raining the entire time and thus I could not take any pictures.

View from one of the bridges in Wuzhen

Now then to my favorite part of this day. From Hangzhou we drove roughly 1 1/2 hours to Wuzhen, a wonderful little town. As the schedule was completely messed up we arrived there around 7pm instead of half day earlier. At first I was afraid it would be another tourist trap as I saw pretty much millions of busses in front but as soon as we went to the check-in area it was empty. All visitors have to leave the old village center till 6 or 7pm and only the inhabitants, inn-guests and workers can stay. We had some delicious dinner there (the best food for the entire trip!) and then had to find our own inn rooms in the old village center. The view was just incredible as during night-time all the houses and bridges are covered in lights. After getting our luggage to our guest rooms we went for a little tour around to take some pictures till most of the lights were turned off. I can only recommend visiting Wuzhen or even stay in one of the guest houses within the water town as it is definitely a place I would love to stay for a couple of days.

With this a very long day came to and end. It was certainly chaotic and only towards our last destination we could finally relax and enjoy the surrounding for a bit. After this night in Wuzhen only two days remained however they will be in one blog post as it is all about Shanghai (and some annoying side stops…).

Have you ever visited Wuzhen?

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Crazy Chinese Family Trees

It is time for the first guest post on my blog in 2016. This guest post by Learn Mandarin Now gives interesting facts about Chinese Family Trees and how to address family members the proper way without embarrassing yourself too much. It is not the first guest post you Learn Mandarin Now on my blog and you might remember for example Three Ways To Learn Mandarin Chinese Effectively or the Infographic about the Top 10 Ways to Learn Mandarin Chinese.


I don’t know about you, but I am a long-time follower of Timo’s blog: Crazy Chinese Family. I enjoy it the most when Timo writes about his “interesting” relationship with his mother-in law, which makes me laugh every time!

I know Timo can speak some Mandarin Chinese and, despite this and having first-hand experience about how Chinese-in laws and families can be, it’s probably still hard for him to sometimes understand just how crazy and complicated Chinese family trees can be. In fact, at times, it’s hard to get family relationships all right, even for native Chinese!

Well, if you also feel this way too, we hope we can help you out today!


In my opinion, the Chinese family tree is complicated for couple of key reasons:

  • for example, for the English word “cousin” there are eight Chinese word: 表(biǎo)哥(gē),表(biǎo)姐(jiě),表(biǎo)弟(dì),表(biǎo)妹(mèi),堂(táng)哥(gē),堂(táng)姐(jiě),堂(táng)弟(dì),堂(táng)妹(mèi)。Crazy?
  • as we all know, China is a really big country and, although the aim is to have a standard language for students to learn or remember, there are lots of variations for the same terms. The Chinese word “媳(xí)妇(fù)” means daughter-in law but, in some areas, it can also mean wife… again so crazy!


A Chinese family tree can be talked about forever, but let’s get started with the basics:

A couple: this is easy:

Husband: 老(lǎo)公(gōng),丈(zhàng)夫(fu),先(xiān)生(shēng)

Wife: 老(lǎo)婆(pó),妻(qī)子(zi),夫(fū)人(rén)

In-laws (here’s a more complicated part)

If you are like Timo and married to a Chinese lady, you should call your wife’s parents:

wife’s father: 岳(yuè)父(fù)

wife’s mother: 岳(yuè)母(mǔ)


But what they should call Timo?


Note: 女(nǚ)婿(xù)is the most proper word to use. It’s used more to introduce you to someone. Eg. This is my son in-law. 是(shì)我(wǒ)的(de)女(nǚ)婿(xù)。

In most cases, your in-laws will just say your formal name or your Chinese name (if you have one).

What if your wife has lots of brothers/sisters?

Your wife’s older brother: 大舅子(dàjiùzi)

older sister: 大姨子(dàyízi)

younger brother: 小舅子(xiǎojiùzǐ)

younger sister: 小(xiǎo)姨(yí)子(zǐ)

Seems a bit complicated, right? Well, I don’t want to go any deeper into this today, but really I understand how confused you may feel.


Still, as Chinese New Year is coming soon, if you also are meeting family-in law and family, here are two great tips for you:

  • The number one rule is NEVER call seniors by their name directly. For example, your (future) mother-in-law is 陈大矛(I just made her name up). Don’t call her 陈大矛or 大矛,both are big No-no’s, unless you don’t want to see her again ever… However, when speaking to the younger generation, calling them by their names is acceptable.
  • The second tip is if your Chinese is only at beginner level and you don’t remember the names of relatives at all, just ask before you speak to anyone to avoid making any silly mistakes. Typically, as you might be one of only one of the few foreigners in the room, a friend or colleague or your Chinese family will usually be happy to help you out.


Finally, as a long time follower of Timo, I am always on Timo’s side and hope in the New Year he can win the “war” with his mother in-law. With that thought, I want to offer Timo’s some Chinese wisdom from the “art of the war” in the New Year. 己(jǐ)知(zhī)彼(bǐ),百(bǎi)战(zhàn)不(bú)殆(dài)。

Weekly Chinese Wisdom_01


Anyway, I am just joking. Of course, Timo loves his in-laws and his Chinese family 🙂


Either way, if you are also interested in learning more about Mandarin Chinese, we recently launched our very interesting, daily Chinese Podcasts from Monday to Friday on our site. You can either listen directly on our site Learn Mandarin Now or via different platforms such as iTunes. Feel free to leave your honest feedback or rating to us, we always appreciate hearing from you.

I wish everyone an amazing 2016 and Spring Festival ahead.


Did you ever face the problem of addressing family members the proper way?

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