Tag Archives: Chinese parents in law

Eating out with my Chinese Family

Eating out with my Chinese family or mostly with my in-laws is always a very special occasion. Not because it happens so rarely but due to their interesting behavior which includes that mother-in-law is always right and father-in-law is very careful.

There is something like a pattern to the way everything works out. It usually starts when deciding where and what to eat. Of course I get always asked what I would like to eat but somehow plans change and I get for example not my visit to my favorite BBQ place a second time during our stay! (So evil people, oh how I suffer). This is due to one simple reason, we get invited out of nowhere by other people for the evening or next day so my beloved BBQ is on hold until there is a time slot available.

eating2

After all this is settled we need to arrive in time which never works out. Somehow we are always late, for example we should be there at 1pm but we just start leaving by 1pm. But here again it has one very simple reason. Mother-in-law is the one who gets to know what time we should be there but tells us that we should leave by 1pm. So when we arrive she says that she thought it was agreed to leave by 1pm and not to arrive by that time! Sounds weird and it certainly is without being able to provide any further information on why this happens every time (my wife is also confused).

The next hurdle begins when sitting down at our table. Here it starts immediately with father-in-law taking all our tableware and clean it with the wipes he took along. These wipes are dry so all what happens is that in case there was any dirt or similar on them he just spreads it evenly out. Next it’s the turn for mother-in-law by putting the chopsticks into the tea to kill the bacteria. That the tea is already on a temperature to drink and thus not that suitable to fight of germs does not matter. Even better, she fills up one cup of tea and “cleans” each other cup by pouring this very tea from cup to cup resulting once again in a very nice spreading of dirt if it ever was somewhere.

eating
Mother-in-law has her tea ready

As I wrote in another article so long time ago the most important step is actually before we sit down. In here I have to observe where exactly mother-in-law or any other aunty or grandma is sitting and from there I have to choose the seat furthest away from them. The importance of this step can be explained in a very simple way: survival! Whenever I sit too close to them my plate just keeps on piling more food and whatever I try, I cannot eat up everything. As I was raised in Europe you usually learn to eat everything on you plate which can be in China very quickly be a death sentence (for your waist).

eating8
Grandma is very quick to pack up my plate with food

In case there are some leftovers my MIL has always few plastic bags with her or just asks the staff for some food boxes. This might strike you as pretty normal but this food is not for us, nono, it is for the wild cats she feeds in the yard. No matter what food it is or how spicy, she brings it to the cats. These animals are fed so well that they already ignore the occasional mouse sprinting by them but what am I saying, there are of course no mice according to mother-in-law!

After all of this is over the paying starts. When it is just us with the in-laws it does not really matter but as soon as other people are there the battle starts who has to pay. As this is very common in China I won’t go any further detail besides that I have already seen mother-in-law racing one of her friends through a restaurant to see who will be first able to pay…

 

And now some pictures just to make you a bit hungry

 

What are you experiences when going out to eat?

Advertisements

Visiting Kammi-Kylä

Last year summer my parents in law were visiting us for the first time in Finland. The main reason behind it was that they could attend our “big” wedding in Finland and see where we currently live. As we had a whole month with them we tried to show them as much as possible without straining our financial situation too much. In a previous post I wrote about their first visit on a strawberry farm, well now I will write about their first visit in a truly weird place.

kammi1
Welcome to Finland

This place is located near our summer cottage in Nummijärvi which is near the city of Kauhajoki. I guess these names mean nothing to you but anyways I wrote them down  just as some reference if you ever get interested and want to visit there. So as I mentioned this site is near the cottage my parents own and we were there for a few days prior to our wedding. We wanted to show my parents in law more than just the beautiful nature there and the idea of visiting that weird place came just at the right time. We only had a 20 min car ride through forests and swamps till we arrived.

KK
One of the many Saunas

First of all the whole place is located within a swamp and the owner of this particular place had some years back the idea to build on his own several buildings in this swamp. I think all materials except the windows and some water drains are natural materials found all over his property.

After many years of building he had created a little village for himself, including several sauna buildings, a building for parties and dances and a little swamp spa. Swamp Spa? Oh yes, it is hard to describe but I have uploaded a picture with a part of it. Basically it is a circular trench with a little island in the middle on which can be found a few benches and a fireplace. The trench itself can be used to swim around. Did I mention already this whole thing is located in the middle of a swamp? This means that you swim in the swamp when you feel like it.  You got to remember that there are some fancy spa’s worldwide where you have to pay a hefty sum to take a swamp mud bath so this “free” version has its own positive aspects.

kammi2
The Swamp Spa

Sadly I just don’t have the words to describe this place in its entire beauty and weirdness. It is just one of these places you have to visit to get to know its value.

kammi3
look at that craftsmanship

My parents in law were also fairly impressed by this place but they said they would never go to swim there, fair enough, I don’t know if I would do it either without the sauna being on!

kammi4
View from the 2nd floor

 

 

kammi5
Fine details everywhere

 

kammi6
What wonderful and weird buildings here are

 

Here are some picture and a very short description in English and hereyoucan find everything more described in Finnish. Also here the official website of the Lake and, yet again, a Finnish description.

What to do later?

 

This is something we have discussed a lot in the past years. “What to do later” actually means what do we do later with her parents when they need help.

Planing ahead on how to take care for your parents has in Asian countries a whole different meaning than in many European countries.

In Germany most elderly people are often pushed by their family into retirement homes rather than taken in by their families into their homes to be taken care of. In China on the other hand it’s the other way around. Even when those families do have money to send their parents to retirement homes, they prefer taking them into their own homes and either take care of them by their own or hire some nurse to help out.

 

I guess most Chinese living abroad have been wondering about the very same question rather much. This is because if they build themselves a life in a foreign country they would need to give it all up just be with their parents back in China. Why giving it all up? Well, the world is a cruel place and many countries make it under normal circumstances nearly impossible to get your own parents to stay with you. Sure there are exceptions, as I know some Chinese in Finland who own restaurants and basically get first either their mother or father to work there for 5 years to get a permanent residence permit and afterwards get the other parent as this one will get a residence permit immediately due to the permit of the partner. Indeed not an easy way.

 

Now back to my story. As we plan to move soon back to Germany it will be pretty much impossible to get her parents to stay with us later. The law in Germany is pretty strict and chances are close to zero to ever getting her parents live with us. My wife pretty much doubts also that her parents would feel comfortable in such a different environment.

They are happy in China and life is so very different in Europe.

So what does it leave us? We have actually no clue at all. We have been discussing this topic so often that it is currently on hold because neither of us wants to think about it anymore. Not only because it is so complicated but also it is just awful to think ahead and imagine your own parents in a condition that they are in dire need of you.The only thing we can think of is either hiring professional help later in form of a nurse helping them out in their own home or somehow finding a very good retirement home (which are often incredible expensive and at the moment out of our league).

 

Many might say “Just move to China!”. It is not as easy as it sounds and you never know when this situation of need might occur. Maybe it is in the middle of your own children’s school education or during important project work for your company, can you just leave everything behind like that and start entirely anew? Furthermore, my wife has no wish to ever move back to China. For her, a month staying for holidays in China are already too much, she hates the pollution, the noise, and the people (the mass of them and mostly their behavior).

 

As you can see, we still have much to figure out. We doubt that the migration law in Germany will change anytime soon in our favor in this situation so we really have to create other plans for the future.

 

Do you have similar troubles when thinking ahead in your life?

 

P.S. as this blog is titled “My Crazy Chinese Family” I did not talk about my own parents who are actually a whole bit older than my parents in law. But do not fear, I have no wish to send them to some retirement home and thus far my wife shares my opinion.