Tag Archives: China

Plans for the new apartment

Following my last article about the new apartment I have some new developments to write about. First of all I am sorry that I didn’t manage to do so last weekend but some basic company related mess kept me away from writing anything. For everyone who doesn’t know about this apartment and does not want to read through the whole blog post from two weeks ago called “This and that” I will give you a quick summary.

My parents in-law are about to buy a new apartment in Xi’an. This apartment is roughly 25% cheaper for them through some reason I still don’t really understand, it involves somehow them being former workers at that factory which used to be on the grounds of that new apartment block. Two weeks ago I wrote that I am not too happy about them buying that apartment as it is first of all far away from the city center and second of all it would also mess up their daily lives as they need to commute everywhere by bus and thus making everything harder and more expensive.

Those lovely buildings in the background is where my in-laws are living right now

For the past twenty’ish years they have been living right in the city center of Xi’an within the old city walls. Sure the area is not the prettiest around as the buildings haven’t been taken care of at all ever since their existence but it had some certain feeling to it as most neighbours know  each other, on the streets in front of the buildings you can have all kind of delicious food, all kind of stores are all around there and it feels just real. In short it is for me the real Chinese city life, not those fancy malls or new skyscraper apartment blocks. My parents joked when they first saw the area that it looks like Germany after WWII (which my father even witnessed so there must be some truth to it). My in-laws apartment is in stark contrast to the outside of the building as everything was nicely renovated six years ago and everything inside is more “western” orientated with the basic Chinese kitsch to top it off.

Yeah this is me with long hairs eating an apple in my in-laws old apartment

The new apartment they want is in another area of the city which used to be an old industrial site. Apparently both of my in-laws used to work there (also the entire rest of the family as far as I know) and now they all got some nice discount on buying apartments there. My in-laws are planning to buy a 98m² (1055f²) apartment which would be about 1/3 bigger than their old one. Of course in China those 98m² are not actually the entire living space you buy as some of those m² are counted into the stairway and what not all so I believe the new apartment will be 85m² at most. Next to the new apartment buildings are the old buildings of the factory workers which are also in a terrible condition. There crazy granny still lives with crazy Uncle and his family (they already purchased the biggest available apartment in the new building). All around there is actually not much to do. There are not even many street kitchens, during daytime you can by only some watermelons from one vendor and there are some car repair place, nothing more. The nearest supermarket is 20 minutes away by walking so all in all it is not really a dream location.

Now to the apartment itself. The apartment is right now pretty much bare brickwork (okay it is concrete) without anything but some windows and the piping done. This means after you purchase such apartment you still have to invest tons of money. What else is not that great is the layout of the apartment which is in my opinion (everyone we asked) really bad, especially the kitchen is the size of a small storage room and I do not know how they will fit anything inside there. As they have installed already windows you can’t purchase yourself proper windows. In China the basic windows you get are some kind of “sliding” windows and they have as much insulation as a sheet of paper. All in all it is a real mess.

What is the new development when it comes to the apartment? You see my wife and I already convinced them to keep the old apartment as its value will increase a lot once plans are made for tearing it down and building a new apartment block there (not one of those ugly skyscrapers but something more traditional looking and not that high as it is within the city walls). After we brought our concerns forward regarding how hard life would be for them when living there they started to think about it themselves. MIL quickly realized that there would be no shopping for her any longer and that she would have to travel for over half hour to her dancing lessons and classes (half hour in case there is no traffic so it is more like one hour for a normal day). Also FIL would not be able to go to his table tennis sessions everyday as it would be the same as with his wife too: much traveling.

This is just 10 minutes away from the old apartment…

Right now they still want to buy that apartment but no longer want to live in it. They also do not plan on renting it out at all! They just want to buy it and leave it in its current condition. As they can get the apartment 25% cheaper they want to wait for a few years and then sell it with a nice profit. I must admit that I kind of like the idea especially as 300k RMB (~45k$) are not from their own pocket but from another source located in another country…

Would you move to such new location? What do you think about my in-laws new plan?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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?

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

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https://www.youtube.com/