Tag Archives: Chinese father-in-law

Visiting the Qinling Zoological Park

During the trips to China we have visited few places there. However those places were always nearby Xi’an as my dear wife turn into a role model couch potato once she arrives in her parents apartment. Usually the only means to get her away from the beloved sofa and TV are either restaurants or animals. In this case animals worked as we manged to even go twice to the Qinling Zoological Park.

The Park itself is roughly 28km away from Xi’an and is located, as the name suggests, at the starting point of the Qinling Mountain Range. The Park is advertising to have more than 300 animal species including the Giant Panda! But more about it later on…



It was pretty exciting for me there the first time as I just love good Zoo’s. This one even offered some kind of safari tour in which you sit in the back of a truck with metal bars around to be protected against more dangerous animals. Of course I wanted this tour as I never had experienced something like that before.

At the beginning of the Zoo is even a little theme park. My in-laws offered that we go there however it didn’t look too safe in my opinion and I was pretty much right about it. Why you may ask well, a couple of years later there was an accident at the theme park with three people injured. Of course this could happen in any theme park but when I see that the amusement rides are full of rust and some parts fell already off I just don’t really have the urge to try it out myself.



Right after you enter the Zoo the different trucks wait for paying visitors to take the little safari tour. Needless to say that MIL was the first at the different trucks trying to get few spots for us as well. Though the whole tour is interesting I must say that the truck just drives too quickly through the different sections resulting that you don’t have time to watch the animals nor take proper pictures. For me the beginning of the tour with the giraffes, zebras, camels and so on was much more interesting than the later part with the dangerous wolves, lion and tigers as those were always sleeping some distance away in the shadows. The safari area is enclosed and each part is separated from each other by double gates to prevent animals to get out or people to get in. This on the other hand didn’t stop in 2010 a father and his son to enter the tiger area…(when researching this in Chinese you find out that those two didn’t even had tickets for the Zoo and no one knows how they even could enter!)

After the safari tour you can start the normal tour and go around following the many paths. The map you get with the tickets give a nice overview where to find what animals as otherwise walking around the whole park surely takes nearly an entire day. Now we come back to the Giant Pandas. Everywhere is advertised that there are Pandas and not only I wanted to see them but the rest of my Chinese family as well. You can imagine our disappointment when there were no Pandas in the enclosure! Now, this could have been just coincidence, perhaps they were somewhere else on that day but no. When I was there a year later there were again no Pandas and reading several reviews it seems that barely anyone has ever seen them there.

Anyways the Zoo is huge so after a while we forgot again about the Pandas and were doing our round to see all kind of different animals. Some places looked even really nice such as the little lake with the different water birds. The Zoo has even a little water show with different kind of seals. Not only allowed it us to sit down for a while but after the show was done we had  the opportunity to take pictures together with one of the seals. I think MIL wanted to take the seal with her but FIL wouldn’t allow it…


You know what? Even though I just love Zoo’s and this one has a huge variety of animals it is definitely not my favorite one. For one, everything appears to be in a bad condition as if nothing has been really maintained for years. All over the park you can see these kind of things. From rusted amusement rides for the children within the park (not the theme park in front of the Zoo) over dried out water areas to buildings with huge cracks and holes in the roofs! I haven’t been in any other zoo’s in China yet but I really hope this is not the norm. I mean this park has many positive reviews from Chinese but many bad ones from  foreigners.

I don’t want to say the park is bad as it offers a nice day trip away from the city however I would not recommend it as a main thing to see when visiting Xi’an as there are many other and better things to see. In case they would really start taking better care of the entire Zoo in terms of actually repairing broken things, make it look more inviting including improving the animals enclosures I will definitely go there again and perhaps then recommend it but not right now.


What are your experiences when visiting Zoo’s? Have you ever been in a Chinese Zoo?

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The love for Table Tennis

My father-in-law is a pretty normal person if you exclude his cleaning frenzies every single day. He wakes up around 6 in the morning and goes to work from where he returns some when in the late afternoon. In his free time he loves to clean the apartment, play some weird browser games, watching some sports on TV and then its already sleeping time. Basically he is busy the whole day but you are wrong, he squeezes in still his hobby: Table Tennis!


His work is not the busiest you might imagine as it leaves him plenty of time to go eating with us (when we are there), buy some groceries and do sports with his colleagues. Usually he plays every day at least one hour table tennis and this already for years. This resulted that he even participated and won the city political bureau championships.

I always imagined my father-in-law as a not so sporty person because, I don’t know, perhaps because most of my friends are doing sports partly even professionally and you can see from their appearance that they do something, not so much FIL. Of course every sport is different and I am used to swimming and the like which shapes the body a bit different. Anyways, last years summer FIL invited us to join his practice. I was more than eager to join as that holiday in China was more about our wedding and not so much about visiting new interesting places in Xi’an.

FIL in action


As we entered the sports hall several colleagues of FIL greeted us and all of them were playing some matches. FIL was wearing already his sports clothes so he started his warm up and putting on his knee protectors (he is not the youngest anymore). Meanwhile I checked how the others were playing and it looked to me already pretty good but then FIL’s first match started. Lets just say that I could not even follow the ball. Sure, it was no World Championships level but I had never seen anything like it before and I had actually watched once in my youth the Staten Championships in Germany. I don’t know how to describe it other than that the usually so slowly paced FIL transformed into an agile table tennis playing machine.

Already by watching him I started to sweat (might be also because it was too hot in that hall!) but he barely got out of breath in three matches. After he was done he asked me if I wanted to play a quick round of table tennis. The stupid me thought of course that he might be exhausted despite the fact that he was not out of breath and not sweating. I lost, I lost terribly. He made me run non-stop and I barely got any points on him. After 15 min I was lying on the ground, out of breath and created a little lake of sweat around me. How embarrassing but at least it seemed I was able to bond a bit with FIL even though I must have looked like the worst table tennis player in history.

The strawberries seem to pull him down!


Latest from this experience I learned not ever to judge someone by their appearance!


Ikea Madness

Few days ago I had an adventurous day at Ikea with my family to buy a bedroom wardrobe. This adventure reminded me first of all how crazy shopping at Ikea can be and secondly, how my mother-in-law went into berserk mode at that store last summer.

This is how it should look like
This is how the wardrobe should look like in the end!

Let me tell you first of all about the family adventure to buy that wardrobe. In theory everything was set in stone, we had already figured out which wardrobe we want (PAX System), what extras should be included and how we transport it. How naive I had been to imagine that this would actually work as planned. The trouble started already with the mass of people at Ikea. It was so full that I felt like being back in China, walking through some shopping center except it was not that hot at Ikea and few less Chinese around. The next problem was that we could not just pick out a wardrobe from the examples as they did not fit my wife’s taste so we had to put together every single item of the 3m wardrobe system.


The list of the different items for such wardrobe included for example the frame, sliding doors, the different elements of the door, shelves and much more. After roughly one hour of planing this was done and everyone was hungry (except me because I was just dead tired by now) so it was lunch time at the store’s own restaurant. Again it felt eerily similar to a Chinese restaurant by the noise level and amount of people except of course the food itself.


WP_20141017_044Lunch was done and the first two hours at Ikea were survived and we walked straight into the next disaster. We had to collect the different parts from the warehouse and as we found the first few pieces we started to realize that we would definitely not be able to take the monstrosity of a wardrobe in our car with us. Not only were these parts just too huge but also too heavy as my father and me together started to sweat carrying them. This meant we had to decide on a delivery option and we ended up renting a little truck to drive our purchased goods home. This is usually not so stressful or related to madness itself however the rental timeframe was only two hours, the store being over 30km away from our home, which meant a lot of speeding and very quick loading and unloading of the truck. In the end we spent six hours with Ikea stuff, including the rental truck story!



DSC01021Now lets continue with my dear mother-in-law. Back in February I wrote a short version of her berserk shopping style at Ikea. As it was only a brief description of her weird ideas I did not mention much of her craziness. As mentioned in the article she had the idea to take an Ikea kitchen cabinet to China for their own use. Not only was this a very silly idea due to the size and weight of the packed cabinet but this whole kitchen cabinet idea would have ended latest in China as both MIL and FIL have just zero talent at constructing stuff. They surely would have tried to build it up but it would have been anything but a kitchen cabinet in the end! Whenever they have to do such things themselves it either never happens or they hire someone to do it for them as it just does not work for them.


The fascinating thing about my crazy Chinese mother-in-law was that she was not really interested in all the furniture offered at Ikea but all the annoying stuff downstairs(for me at least) such as kitchen ware, carpets, textiles and the dreadful area of interior decoration. Can you even imagine how much time a person can spend on trying to convince someone of the great traits of a cappuccino foam maker? Lets just say MIL used up the better part of one hour to convince her daughter to purchase it. Saddest part back then was that MIL did not even like any coffee or related drinks, she just wanted it to show her friends what fancy drinks she can make. But that was back then, by now she has her own coffee machine and couple of nice Finnish coffee packs.


Basically MIL and FIL investigated everything there, especially all the small items to give away as gifts to their friends. No matter what they checked out it was just not good enough as every single item had one thing in common: Made in China. No good for my Chinese parents-in-law but good enough for me. After being for several hours there with my in-laws we left the store without having bought anything. They certainly liked the things offered there but all the stuff was not good enough for their friends which resulted later on a chocolate buying mayhem on a cruise ship.


Now in the end to show you what Ikea Madness means also for me: 2 1/2 days of constructing the bedroom wardrobe and still not done!