Tag Archives: snow

A Weekend in Sotkamo

Back in 2011 we visited my wife’s friends in Sotkamo which is in the in the middle east of Finland. From Helsinki Sotkamo is about 580km away by car which means that it takes over 6 1/2 h to get there. So why my wife has friends in the middle of nowhere of Finland? In 2006 my wife started her studies in Finland. She didn’t study in Helsinki in the beginning but in Kajaani which is roughly 30km to the west of Sotkamo. She stayed there for one year until she found another university and moved to Helsinki. During that one year she made many new friends and one of them she still considers to be her best friend and that is the one we visited back then.

Snow snow and more snow

We went there in December which means that there is snow, too much snow all around and it is cold, too cold! We left our home near Helsinki at 6am in order to arrive at a reasonable time in Sotkamo for lunch. During those morning hours we had about -16 degrees (Celsius ~ 3 degrees Fahrenheit) which was already a challenge for my poor Diesel powered Opel Astra. Nonetheless the car managed somehow however during the drive to Sotkamo the temperatures plummeted sometimes down to -40 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees Fahrenheit). Let me just say that in never got warm inside the car and even the car engine decided not get warm and thus many other things didn’t work such as the Turbo…(really great when the car has suddenly troubles to get up a small hill!).

It was also during that trip that we had our first (and only) car crash. The whole mess happened towards the final 100km of the journey and wasn’t fun at all. You have to imagine having a road covered in a layer own snow which is compressed and thus nearly like ice at such low temperatures. Somehow I got with my right front tire too much to the right where the snow layer was higher and then everything happened rather quick. At over 80km/h (~50 mp/h) the car started spinning around crashing on the opposite lane into the fields just barely missing an oncoming truck. I don’t know how but nothing happened to us or the car! Some driver who saw everything came to our aid and managed to call on some farmer who pulled us out of the field with his tractor for very little money. I will never forget the feeling when I lost control over the car and saw during the spinning motion the truck coming closer and closer.

Getting ready for some cross-country skiing failure

With some delay we managed it finally to Sotkamo where we had our lunch at the friend’s restaurant. Compared to Helsinki Sotkamo was already entirely in the Christmas season with too much snow all around. The little town is known for its skiing resort Vuokatti. It was there I tried my luck to teach my wife how to do cross-country skiing but it didn’t work out so well. In fact my wife gave up after a while so I decided to do a short 2.5 km round but got lost somehow and had to do a 15km round. The skiing center in Vuokatti is very famous in Finland as it offers a variety of possible activities such as downhill skiing, cross-country, ski jumping and there is also a cross-country skiing tunnel which makes training on snow possible during summer time. Though it offers so many sport activties we spent the least time doing any kind of sporty stuff there. My wife had more important things to do with her friends such as talking, eating, watching movies, eating and eating. As said before one of her friends got back then a Chinese restaurant in the town resulting that there was always more than enough food.

As Sotkamo is very small with only 10.000 inhabitants there is also not much to do within the city center. There are some shops around but that’s about it.  During winter it is a perfect place for winter sport enthusiasts and in summer time it offers great hiking trails. What makes this place also interesting is that it is not that far away from the Arctic Circle and Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi where my wife visited once with her friends in 2009 but that is again stuff for another time.

Have you visited a place with more than enough snow to get already annoying for you?

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Mother in law visiting

I have mentioned it plenty of times before: Mom in law will be visiting us in February. And as you are a careful reader of this blog you also know it is because her grandson will be born in that month. Basically she will be here to help us out. Basically…but my wife and me know also the other reason, she is especially here to spend hours a day in the shopping malls looking for stuff to buy. However she never buys anything anyways except stealing hours of our lives away…

In the past months we both came up with a plan how to survive with mom in law (the detailed plan can be found here https://crazychinesefamily.com/2013/10/28/how-to-make-life/). But we are not that cruel to think only about ourselves so actually we created also a little plan on how to make the stay enjoyable for her. Here are some of the main points of that plan.



She is Chinese, my wife is Chinese = they love food. Problem is that my wife’s mom is not making the best food other than some noodle dishes and jiaozi 饺子.Honestly, I am not a big fan of her food and in my opinion my wife makes much better food (she agrees). This leads to the need of visiting Chinese restaurants on a more frequent level than usual. Because my wife and me did not fear any hardships during the past years in discovering new Chinese restaurants in our area, we have a handful of good ones to visit. They are a bit different from the usual restaurants as they usually two different menus. There is one menu for Finnish people and one menu for Chinese people. The menu for the Finnish people is obviously less spicy, less well tasting and has less variety. Sadly visiting those restaurants on a daily basis is out of the question due to the high costs here in this cold cold country but at least once a week should be possible.



Mom in law loves shopping. I believe she would even sleep in the shopping mall given the chance. Thankfully we have three shopping malls in close proximity and additional two or three involving 20-30min car ride. Due to these perfect conditions I do not have to worry about the shopping part at all (except the costs involved if she actually finds something she likes…)



According to my wife, she really wants to play in the snow. No problem, here should be plenty of it by then. However I don’t know how long she will enjoy it and furthermore we will need to buy her some good winter clothes.


The Baby

Mom in law wants a cute mixed grandson. No problem, our son will be the cutest baby ever (no offence to other babies 😉 )

Great news is that she will help us out with the child, the not so great news is that I don’t really know who might be more annoying at night; the baby crying at night or mom in law snoring as loud as a starting jet plane.



Yes you read right, presents. As any good Chinese who wants to keep face she will have to bring some nice presents for her family and friends. Luckily we have a huge collection of fragrances, make-ups, cremes etc. due to the profession of my wife. So finding presents for her female friends and relatives won’t be a problem. The presents for the men will be a different story. Alcohol here in Finland is incredibly expensive and mostly pretty bad (I would not recommend any local beer to foreigners if they do not wish to feel very sad). This means that those presents are still mostly a big question mark in our plan.



She will be three months here and spending that much time only in one apartment and few shopping malls will even get boring for my mother in law. However due to the baby we won’t be able to take her to any nice places or countries. But my parents came up with a solution! We will take a ship cruise to Germany, stay few weeks with my parents and go back by ship to Finland in April. With this mom in law will experience some other country she hasn’t been visiting yet, my own parents can see their grandson and even better, we can buy some presents which are still required so mom in law can keep her face.


This is our “Big Plan” thus far. Additional points might be still created or other parts changed (and no, the cutest baby part will stay). Have you ever made similar plans when your parents in law came to visit?