Tag Archives: China

Plans for the rest of the Year

Over half of the year 2017 is over and much has already happened. Untill the birth of our daughter in May we were very busy trying to “stabilising” our little business. From January till the beginning of May we were investing so much time into our business that we had no time to do anything else. We did not travel anywhere, we didn’t visit any neighbouring towns, we did not even go shopping or eating in some nice restaurant (with the exception of birthdays and the weekend Family Gathering in March).

Basically all we did was work and spend the little free time with Nathan. Due to our work we do not even have any free weekends which can be sometimes very hard when the work seems to have no end. By the time our baby girl was born we had reduced the workload already in order for my wife to find some rest. However it was just reduced workload and thus just two days after Nathalie was born I started working again. Now two months after our family grew by one we started to wonder what we can do to enjoy life a bit more once again after those hard months.

Lübeck in 2015

No, we won’t have any big travels planned such as last year. However we have some smaller trips planned already within Germany. For one we want for Nathan to have some more fun by going to a little theme park in the next few weeks. That theme park is perfect for little kids like him as he can pretty much go into every amusement ride as there aren’t any “wild” ones and there is also a deer park! Besides the theme park we will go to a few cities this summer such as revisiting Lübeck and Flensburg for some day trips. In August we have then our “biggest” trip which will lead us to the dark East of Germany.

Lübeck will be lovely to revisit

That big trip developed only because I got an invitation for a Class reunion from my high school in Chemnitz (East Germany). As my wife had no interest in going there at all just for some reunion I had to come up with some plan. So now we will be driving first to Quedlingburg which is a very old town first mentioned in the records in 922 AD. The old town, the church and the castle are on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1994. I was there already once back in 1994 or 1995 with my parents and brother but I do not remember much of it anymore. There we will stay for one night right in the historic old town and then on the following day travel to Chemnitz. Except meeting with some friends and then having later on the reunion I have not planned anything yet. The problem for me with Chemnitz is just that I have no clue what to visit there even though I lived there for two years from 2005-2007.

My father on his way to his old home in 1991

In the late summer we will be trying to travel for a weekend to Poland to revisit my father’s birthplace Kołczewo on the Island Usedom. That trip will be especially important for my father as he had revisited that place only twice before, both between 1990 and 1991.He has not much memories from that place as he was very young when his family had to flee back in 1945 and become refugees till settling down in my hometown (they were living in camps for the first few years here). After that trip we will have only a few more day trips in mind. For us it is only important to get out of the daily routine from time to time. Next year shall be different again for us and I will write about it at some point towards the end of this year.

1990 My father carrying me in front of the old family house. The child standing there belongs to the “new” residents, let’s see if they are still there this year

What are your plans for the second half of 2017?

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Getting Lost in Langzhong

Remember my blog post “The Time we actually travelled somewhere”? Back then I only mentioned the Jianmenguan Pass however we still had another destination afterwards. I guess I tried to forget about it as the bus trip (which already took 6 hours to the Jianmenguan Pass) did not improve while driving to our final destination. In fact it got worse as the driver got lost several times so the whole trip took instead of another 2 1/2 hours again around 6 hours.

One of the countless of Buildings we visited in Langzhong

At late night we arrived in  Langzhong and were hushed by the tour guide into the old town to our Traditional Inn. As we arrived so late they did not have any dinner left and nearly all restaurants had closed already as the Old Town is a tourist attraction and thus only opened during daytime. After searching for what felt an eternity we found one restaurant we could eat something. On the down side it was filled with drunken patrons, on the bright side they had food for us. The only memories I have from the first night in the room was that those old buildings certainly do not give you any rest as you hear everyone in the whole inn talking or walking around.

From the towers in the Ancient Town you have a wonderful view around

Because we were part of a tourist group it meant also a very strict timetable. Wake up was at 5:30 AM and by 6 AM we had to be done with breakfast and run around the ancient town of Langzhong. The place looks really amazing and it is full of history but running from one temple to the next ancient school to the next ancient tomb was very exhausting. Besides exhausting it was also very repetitive as after a while all those buildings were looking the same. Because of the strict timetable we had to rush to every location and we got lost several times as we could not keep up the speed together with Nathan. One good thing though was that the food was pretty decent unlike at the horrifying experience from the City Tour Extreme a year later.

Eating bubbles because why not

Langzhong is a very interesting city as the ancient town is well-preserved and has an over 2.300 years of history. One of the main points I still remember is the ZhangFei Temple which is also where his tomb is located. On a funny side note I have to mention that MIL did not dare to enter the temple as she thinks that God will punish her for that. No idea where she got that from but in all our travels she never entered a temple due to her fear. Nathan became quickly an attraction on his own when we walked around wearing his monk costume. At one point there were several dozen people following him and taking pictures with him. Needless to say that MIL tried to be in each picture as well…

See, take picture of me and also the little guy in my arms

Our tour group allowed to have some little “freedom” by being able to select certain extras to visit. One of those extras was a performance on the other side of the river. It was a really wonderful perfomance and the only negative thing was the ridiculous amount of selfie-sticks being used to take pictures and videos. Due to that I had too often a huge tablet right in front of me. I tried my best but somehow I could not find the name of the performance online nor does my wife remembers the name any longer. All I know is that it is located right next to the Jinping Hill which is on its own already a great location to visit. We had a strict timetable when visiting the Jinping Hill and kind of got lost half way through. Especially carrying Nathan’s small pram up and down countless of stairs was a bit hard.

Entrance to the performance area

I can only recommend to visit Langzhong but without a tour group! Two to three days would be best as there is a lot to see already in the ancient town and in the surrounding area. The Jinping Hill alone can easily consume up to six hours when trying to really “see” everything there. What I can not recommend is the vinegar museum as it is just a tourist trap and of course everyone in my tour group bought plenty of vinegar in the store located at the exit of the museum.

Have you visited so-called Ancient Towns before?

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The Countryside Experience for the Wealthy

Over the years we have been several times to China. Xi’an is the place where we had spent most of our time so I also learned one or two things about the city. One of those things I learned is where you want to have an apartment in case you got a bit more spare money on you. Yes I am talking about the Qujiang New District 曲江新区which was at first only for tourism but evolved quickly into a real district. What makes the place so interesting for people with some money? It looks just great with parks around, a lake and tons of shopping malls growing like mushrooms here and there. Also the apartment blocks are bit more luxurious than the standard ones you find in other city districts as they even have their own parks in the inner yard with ponds and tiny temples.

Ain’t a bad place to have an apartment at

One friend of my wife had the luck and got one of the apartments there and now my little story starts. That friend is someone my wife knows since Elementary school and was always a bit wealthier than others around. She married a prince charming who studied in the UK and these days they live in the above mentioned area. Now what is so interesting about the younger generation in China who grew up in big cities is that they kind of lost the connection to nature and rural life. Sure it is wonderful to take walks around the parks in that area in Qujiang New District but it is not really a natural landscape. So what do younger people do when they get bored with going around shopping malls, eating in luxury restaurants or buying food in overpriced supermarkets? They leave the city for a few hours to experience the village life, or what they think the real village life is like.

Nearby the guesthouse, you can see Xi’an in the background

This year we joined them for such trip into the rural depths of Shaanxi. Mind you I don’t complain here as it was a relaxing trip in a nice surrounding with wonderful food. However it is a bit amusing to see how these people think about life in rural areas. So what kind of place we would visit in order to experience village life? Of course a fancy guest house on a mountain slope just outside the city. With fancy guest house I really do mean a fancy guest house. We were eating in guest houses before and none of them got even close to this one. The whole little village was a bit better looking than what I had gotten used to over the years. While driving up the village road I noticed that nearly each building was a guesthouse with nice cars parking outside. Once we reached our guesthouse I was somehow not surprised anymore to see a collection of BMW’s, Mercedes and Audi in the yard.

Part of the Guesthouse

The building itself was not so different from the normal guest houses you might encounter in China just a bit bigger and very nicely decorated. The main attraction here was their garden which was turned into a small restaurant with big shady trees and a bamboo fence all around to keep unwanted eyes away from the wealthy patrons. There was even an interesting self-made bamboo waterplay going around next to the fence which caught the attention of the playing children. The patrons who were not busy eating or drinking coffee were lounging in the swinging seats or in one of the hammocks. The more adventurous people were even taking short hikes up the mountain till they reached some run down houses and turned back in fear. All this while taking tons of Selfies posing in this village surroundings.

Latest at this spot most visitors rushed back to their guesthouses

By now you might be wondering why there are not specific pictures of this village, the guesthouse or other things I described. I was not allowed! For one there was some strange tower/ bridge like metal construction with military personnel and I was not allowed to take really any pictures there and the second reason being that some of the patrons were people who do not wish to appear in any kind of photo making it impossible to do anything within the guesthouse. For me it is just so interesting how this all is happening. The friend of my wife and her husband were so amazed by the hammocks and that there were chicken on the street, it just blew my mind. I mean scenes which are for me just normal in China seems to be something the “upper class” has no contact with or idea about. It seems just so surreal that these normal things are something special for them and they even pay for it to see it. I must say that this particular village/ the guesthouses certainly found good way to make money, by simply giving wealthier people a polished version of the countryside life.

Have you ever experienced something similar? I just lack the words and can only sum it up as “fake countryside for rich people”.

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