Tag Archives: crazy Chinese family

Going to Stockholm

One of the few trips we did with my in-laws together last summer was to Stockholm, Sweden. My wife’s parents stayed with us four weeks, usually enough to get something decent done however we had in between a wedding to manage which took some resources from us. In the end we only managed to go to my parent’s cottage, Tallinn and Stockholm. The trip to Stockholm was already something my wife had planned before but our ever-changing schedule that summer made it nearly impossible to go anywhere.

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Our ship (the red one!) in Helsinki

 

Some Basics

Stockholm is a place nearly every Finn has visited at least once and this has a very simple reason: The ship cruise! The usual way to go from Helsinki to Stockholm is by ship, either leaving from the capital city itself or going further to the west coast to Turku. This cruise is so popular for Finnish people due to the tax-free store, snus and drinks. During the night hours the ship can be divided into two groups. The one group, made up mostly by families and tourists from around the world, tries to get rest for a day of activities in Stockholm and the other group, mainly consisting of the younger generation of Finnish and Swedish people partying and drinking the night away.

 

Our Trip

Right from the start we got into some trouble due to lack of parking lots at the harbor. This led to a situation in which we nearly missed our ship. Calls by my wife (as I was too unstable already by driving around the different parking lots) to the service line of the ship cruise company solved the issue right in time. These cruises are for most people something fun, they go around, eat in the restaurants, go shopping in the tax-free, sing karaoke or relax in the bar. This cruise was everything but relaxing for us. You see, once MIL discovered the tax-free store we had to go with her there several times to help her around. During that time she was in some kind of shopping frenzy as she was not able to buy any clothes for three weeks already. This resulted in her looking at each clothing item with manic eyes, trying the same pieces on several times even though she knew they wouldn’t fit or didn’t match her taste. This all didn’t matter to her, she needed to buy something! However even after the fifth time going to the store she could not find anything to buy or got convinced by her daughter not to buy this or that useless item.

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Too many people again

As you can see, there was not so much relaxing up to this point for us, so what about going to eat? Oh no, we did not go to eat. We actually wanted but each restaurant we went to my in-laws had only one comment “Too expensive”. Well, there went the good food part of the trip as well. Karaoke? Sorry, nothing for me and I had also no interest in going to the bars so we ended up staying the entire trip (except the many visits to the tax-free store) in our cabins.

Last but not least we arrived next morning in Stockholm and experienced our very next disappointment. We took the tourist bus tour around the city but, unlike in Helsinki where the same company is operating, only a few buses had the tour offered in Chinese and we ended up on a bus without it. This meant a lot of translating work for my wife for the entire time and to make matters even worse, our bus broke down towards the end. Slightly annoyed we made our way from the last station towards the city center to grab some food. All the while my in-laws made the often repeated comments of “It is so clean here”, “Such a blue sky”, “How can they keep their windows so clean” and then one comment we hadn’t heard in Finland “So many people here”. Yes, there were many people in the streets and it felt sometimes as busy as in Xi’an but that could be because anything more than 2 people on the street is busy when living in Finland.

Usually it is fairly easy to find a nice place to eat, especially when you are really hungry. But this does not apply with my in-laws around. Usually it is something like this “We don’t want to eat Chinese”, “We want to eat something new”, “This looks so strange”, “Too expensive”, “Too foreign”, “This looks good!” and as you may guess, this last one is a Chinese restaurant…

With filled stomachs we started our journey anew through Stockholm or let’s say, our journey from clothing store to clothing store, MIL viewing each item with ferocious eagerness. Through some unknown magic she was once again not able to buy anything, making her even more crazy than usual. More crazy as we now started to go through all souvenir shops so she just could buy something, at least something little but now again, nothing. To make her mother feel better my wife came up with the idea to buy chocolate on the ship for her friends as a gift. What a terrible idea but more about that later.

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My last grey memories of Sweden

As I knew already that we would spend the entire cruise back to Helsinki just in our cabins I decided to get my family exhausted by taking the long way back to the ship. This meant also we would be walking through the beautiful old town of Stockholm were the Royal Palace is located. As expected MIL had something weird to ask again “Can we go visit the King, I would like to see him”. No comment.

Thankfully we stopped at a supermarket before the harbor to buy some food for the cruise which included some sweet pastries covered in jam. The biggest and sweetest looking one we had planned for FIL (he has a real sweet tooth) but we would not know the fate of this delicious pastry until the next day. Once again on board the tax-free shop mayhem started and this time focused solely on the chocolates. As promised my wife guided her parents to the chocolate section but little did we know about the plans my in-laws had created during the past hours. We expected perhaps ten to twelve 300g chocolate bars for their friends, oh no, we spent in the end over 100€ on these chocolate bars. Can you guess how damn heavy so much chocolate is? Well, it resulted later on to some trouble when packing for their flight back to China, yes, too much chocolate. Furthermore this chocolate shopping easily took us close to two hours as my in-laws were fighting with each over whose friends would get how much chocolate, how much they would keep for themselves and so on. Let’s just say it was a basic fight over useless things as always.

 

Conclusion

In the end we managed to arrive in Helsinki unharmed. Carrying our luggage I felt like I could open a chocolate store and have supplies for at least a month. I do believe the trip might have been much more enjoyable without my in-laws, at least we could have done everything on our own pace and actually eat nicely. Oh and remember the pastry for FIL? He threw it away as he thought the jam was meat. D’Oh!

 

 

 

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Poor little cousin

Let me tell you a story of my mother-in-law. I know, there have been many stories about her in this blog but she just gives me so many things to write about. I do not know how she does it but somehow something happens nearly every day to write about and I believe she is far from being done with crazy.

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Uncle, distant relative, Granny and Aunty

This particular story happened last summer when we were in Xi’an. It was once again one of those days when we visited my wife’s grandmother. Not only is the grandmother living there but also her uncle with his wife and daughter. This little girl is about four to five years old and the younger cousin of my wife. Basically every time we visit MIL has something to complain about such as granny is playing too much Mahjong, granny is not drinking enough water, granny is spoiling the little girl too much, and granny is not doing enough for the little girl. In case it’s not granny’s fault it is either MIL’s brother, or my wife or father-in-law who has done something wrong.

 

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My wife feeding her little cousin

Where did I stop? Oh, everyone is doing something wrong. Alright, so we visited last summer once again. We were playing with my wife’s little cousin and MIL noticed the clothes of the poor little girl. She took a closer look at the girl, turned her about and then said to her brother “What are these for ugly clothes, how can you make her wear something like this?

 

As you can see MIL is very delicate when forming accusation and taking always the highest care not to make anybody feel bad. Naturally all people were looking at the little girl and her clothes, then at uncle who looked confused and then at MIL who was still poking the girl and observing the clothes. What came then would be pretty weird for other people but is just another usual day for MIL.The uncle just looked at his older sister, smiled and replied “But older sister, you bought these clothes and gave them to her last time you visited”

Of course MIL just tried to deny it as she never ever does anything wrong and has much better taste than this but father-in-laws comment about his wife makes more and more sense “She has water in the head” 脑子进水了 or “She has fishes in the head” 脑子养鱼.FIL is indeed a very wise man.

 

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MIL with her niece

This brings me to MIL and how stubborn she is. However she must have gotten her stubbornness and weirdness from somewhere and  granny comes into the play here. Grandmother is also really weird and stubborn, sure no competition for MIL but still playing in a high weirdness league. For example one of the main discussions they have when visiting granny is that she should not cut the little girls hairs anymore. For unknown reasons she always cuts the hairs of the girl very short and very unprofessional. The result is that the girl always has some really crazy hairstyle when we visit. Everyone is telling grandma to stop doing it, she then agrees but as soon as the girl’s parents are out at work she goes back to practice her hairdressing techniques on her. Thankfully the little girl doesn’t seem to mind it yet but I have the feeling that the combined influence of weird and stubborn grandma and MIL visiting will create yet another crazy family member I can write about in a few years.

Visiting Tallinn

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View on Tallinn from the ship

This week we visited Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. As we are leaving Finland soon behind my wife wanted to travel together with her friends from her very early days in this country. They quickly decided on Tallinn as it just 2 1/2 hours away by ship from Helsinki and furthermore so much more interesting than any Finnish town we know.

We had visited the city before many times however for this trip we wanted a more relaxed atmosphere and decided to stay one night in a hotel. We arrived at Tallinn harbour at around 11am and went straight on towards the Old Town to check in our hotel. This hotel was something special for us as it is a historical building construced in 1437, full of small corridors, an amazing layout and you basically feel like in some old castle.

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Being pushed around my tourists

The first day we just spent walking around, finding nice restaurants, a cafe to relax and most importantly for us guys, buying drinks and watching the World Cup at night. Even though I had been so often in this city I saw so many more sights I had never seen before. Sadky, due to utter laziness I forgot my camera in the hotel room and could not take any pictures of those (for me new) interesting areas of the old town.

After a not so relaxing night, full of creaking floors, stairs, music and crying babies we started our shopping tour through the new inner city. I believe that this was the best day for the women and the worst day for us guys. I do not remember how many hours we spent in the shopping malls but I do know that one can get very bored sitting in front of a shop and waiting for the better half to come out. Towards the end we still had some drama coming  up as we went (thanks to me) to the wrong ship terminal and had to run to the other one, arriving just in time before the gates were closing.

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Happy people after eating Thai food

Last year we visiting Tallinn together with my in-laws during summer. Besides that they were amazed why everything was so much cheaper than in Finland they also wondered why there were so many old buildings. “In China something as old as this gets torn down and a beautiful new apartment block is constructed!” – You just go to love those apartment complexes in Chinese cities, enhancing together with the smog the overall beauty.

Here are some links for more information:

Tallinn

St. Olav Hotel

Tallinn Historic Centre

P.S. Old buildings are really noisy, you hear each step taken around you due to the old wooden floor, stairs are creaking non-stop, and you wont get any sleep if there is a baby crying next door however it is still worth the experience