Christmas and New Year celebrations

The Christmas madness is over. Just kidding, there was no madness involved for us this year. We had some peaceful days of doing barely anything besides relaxing. Only on the 24th we made some Christmas cookies again as I had finished the last batch some time earlier once again.

So did we follow-up on our Christmas celebration plan? Certainly not. We skipped the whole music part of the plan due to our laziness and I guess we cut on some edges on the other points as well…besides all of that mother nature didn’t like us and gave us only rain the entire time.

Because my wife sometimes loves to make food, we had a great Christmas dinner and afterwards exchanged our gifts (yes, I managed to buy something fairly useful for her). On the other celebration days we visited some Chinese friends, had hot pot 火锅 and they played some 6 hours of mahjong 麻将(I was pushed to the living room to watch TV as I have no idea about the game).

Now it is just trying to figure out what we will do on New Year except of watching “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”. Maybe we celebrate with some friends or maybe alone, we shall see…

This was it for this year, I hope everyone had a great year or at least managed fine. I bet many of you have once again New Year’s resolutions and barely anyone will stick to it (But I will!).

I wish you all a Happy New Year and see you as lively as ever in 2014!

Visiting an apiary

Last summer in China we visited something like an apiary (bee yard). My mother in law advertised it as an apiary with beautiful scenery she always wanted to visit. Always? No, of course not. After some inquiries by her daughter she admitted that her dancing group got an offer to visit that place, get some food and walk around the country side – for free. We both had nothing against it as it was for free so we decided to join her and the dancing group.

The tour started in early morning hours and we had to hurry to catch the little bus bringing the group to the destination. We needed to hurry, because mother in law was busy packing an absurdly huge backpack full of food and drinks, again, which I had to carry. No words of my wife could persuade her to not pack that much food even though deep down inside she must have known already that the bag would be still full by evening.

The tour itself was nothing out of the ordinary, lots of traffic jams in the city, the bus getting either too hot or too cold depending on the setting of the ac, lots of noise by the dancing group (howler monkeys are paling in comparison when it comes to noise) and their little grandchildren singing children songs through the onboard entertainment system. After a journey which felt like eternity, in an either freezing or burning hell, we arrived at our destination, a collection of some old buildings with some beehives in the yard.

From the locals sitting in the yard my wife learned that this here was just an example of an apiary and it was more like a subsidiary in order to sell the products. Selling they did! The whole dancing group went into a little house where a nice man explained the benefits of honey, beeswax, royal jelly and so forth. The people got excited and bought whatever he advertised (even the pupae which are supposedly very delicious). And who was in the middle of it? Right! Mom in law already calculating how much honey she can eat from that point onwards each day…

After we had eaten in a nearby restaurant for free and were about to be driven to the nearby mountain side for some “sightseeing” I asked my wife why they would offer this whole thing for free.  She told me that she was surprised by it as well in the beginning but after sitting in the sales pitch she learned the reason. During that one hour of selling bee products to around 20 elderly women around 20.000 RMB changed hands! That is no little pocket-money in China and furthermore they had a group before us and still a few more groups coming later on. That is some huge amount of money just for bee products and sadly the local people apparently didn’t benefit much from it. The place was totally run down, the vehicles were on the edge of falling apart so some big boss is earning himself/ herself a golden nose.

Later that day I checked what mom in law all bought and was shocked about the amount she had bought. My guess is that my parents in law are still consuming an incredible amount of honey on a daily basis at this moment. At least she didn’t went on and bought the pupae… All in all it was a nice trip even though I am still shocked by the high price for bee products there (in Finland, one of the most expensive countries in Europe, you pay less than half that amount for honey or any other of those products).

Mother in law visiting

I have mentioned it plenty of times before: Mom in law will be visiting us in February. And as you are a careful reader of this blog you also know it is because her grandson will be born in that month. Basically she will be here to help us out. Basically…but my wife and me know also the other reason, she is especially here to spend hours a day in the shopping malls looking for stuff to buy. However she never buys anything anyways except stealing hours of our lives away…

In the past months we both came up with a plan how to survive with mom in law (the detailed plan can be found here https://crazychinesefamily.com/2013/10/28/how-to-make-life/). But we are not that cruel to think only about ourselves so actually we created also a little plan on how to make the stay enjoyable for her. Here are some of the main points of that plan.

 

Food

She is Chinese, my wife is Chinese = they love food. Problem is that my wife’s mom is not making the best food other than some noodle dishes and jiaozi 饺子.Honestly, I am not a big fan of her food and in my opinion my wife makes much better food (she agrees). This leads to the need of visiting Chinese restaurants on a more frequent level than usual. Because my wife and me did not fear any hardships during the past years in discovering new Chinese restaurants in our area, we have a handful of good ones to visit. They are a bit different from the usual restaurants as they usually two different menus. There is one menu for Finnish people and one menu for Chinese people. The menu for the Finnish people is obviously less spicy, less well tasting and has less variety. Sadly visiting those restaurants on a daily basis is out of the question due to the high costs here in this cold cold country but at least once a week should be possible.

 

Shopping

Mom in law loves shopping. I believe she would even sleep in the shopping mall given the chance. Thankfully we have three shopping malls in close proximity and additional two or three involving 20-30min car ride. Due to these perfect conditions I do not have to worry about the shopping part at all (except the costs involved if she actually finds something she likes…)

 

Snow

According to my wife, she really wants to play in the snow. No problem, here should be plenty of it by then. However I don’t know how long she will enjoy it and furthermore we will need to buy her some good winter clothes.

 

The Baby

Mom in law wants a cute mixed grandson. No problem, our son will be the cutest baby ever (no offence to other babies 😉 )

Great news is that she will help us out with the child, the not so great news is that I don’t really know who might be more annoying at night; the baby crying at night or mom in law snoring as loud as a starting jet plane.

 

Presents

Yes you read right, presents. As any good Chinese who wants to keep face she will have to bring some nice presents for her family and friends. Luckily we have a huge collection of fragrances, make-ups, cremes etc. due to the profession of my wife. So finding presents for her female friends and relatives won’t be a problem. The presents for the men will be a different story. Alcohol here in Finland is incredibly expensive and mostly pretty bad (I would not recommend any local beer to foreigners if they do not wish to feel very sad). This means that those presents are still mostly a big question mark in our plan.

 

Travelling

She will be three months here and spending that much time only in one apartment and few shopping malls will even get boring for my mother in law. However due to the baby we won’t be able to take her to any nice places or countries. But my parents came up with a solution! We will take a ship cruise to Germany, stay few weeks with my parents and go back by ship to Finland in April. With this mom in law will experience some other country she hasn’t been visiting yet, my own parents can see their grandson and even better, we can buy some presents which are still required so mom in law can keep her face.

 

This is our “Big Plan” thus far. Additional points might be still created or other parts changed (and no, the cutest baby part will stay). Have you ever made similar plans when your parents in law came to visit?

 

 

My crazy Chinese Family I married into…