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  • Writer's pictureAnja

Curse and blessing

Last week we received an invitation to a Chinese wedding. The date is 11.7.2021, which is a Sunday. Start of the party 10:58. Why such a strange time? It has something to do with Chinese ideas of luck. The number 8 means a lot of wealth. That means money. If you put it on its side, the number eight is the infinite sign. So infinite wealth.

But I don't know if this numerology also says something about luck and love. It would be desirable for the couple to have both wealth and love. Or they have their preferences elsewhere...

In any case, I know that Chinese weddings are very different from German weddings. I will report on how exactly in my next post.

But the invitation is very beautiful. And it has a little bell that rings.

On the road

On one of our recent trips, this time to Chagan Lake, about 2.5 hours north from Changchun, Denny and I were escorted off the lake.

We were out with the SUPs when there was no wind and looked at the shore from the water, went behind a reed island to see if you could kite there if there was wind.

When we were on our way back, we heard a motorboat and it came straight towards us. But since we don't understand Chinese, we could only try to interpret the hand signals of the three men. It wasn't difficult, they pointed to the land and came up behind us with the boat. But it took several attempts until the men understood our hand signals. Of course we wanted to go back to where our car was and not where the men thought the shortest way out of the water was.

Back on land, we used the translation app to try to understand why they wanted us off the water. They were not police officers, so no one official. The one man answered Denny's questions: He wouldn't go swimming there and that's why he doesn't recommend it. That was all we could get out of him, or out of the app. So we had to get off the water because they were worried about us or a Chinese guy can't swim and thought we couldn't either. (The translation app always leaves room for interpretation) We certainly owe this operation to the crowd on the roadside that we had caused with our paddle tour. There must have been 10-15 people standing on the shore, their cars blocking the lane... (I already mentioned the Chinese driving style in detail...) Probably one of our "observers" organised the Baywatch squad.

Did I ever mention that many Chinese can't swim? Our escort also shone with red jackets).

Sport free!

Last Friday evening Denny surprised me with a request for Saturday. He would like me to run around Moon Lake with him and his team of colleagues on Saturday morning. So run!

The whole thing was a team event organised by the employer and I think also supported by the party. After all, the party had its 100th birthday the week before. Several stations were set up for the employees, where they had to answer questions about the party and were given water. Each correct answer shortened the time the team needed to round the lake by 5 minutes.

The meeting point was at half past seven in the morning, and the run started half an hour later. 16 kilometres. From a standing start and untrained. It worked somehow. It's really exciting what the body is capable of. Especially as it was already over 25 degrees in the morning (7:00 am). At home it would have been heat-free...

With a time of 2 hours and 25 minutes, we were still doing well. Especially since Denny took care of his colleague so that he didn't have to run alone.

In retrospect, the heat didn't do me any good, or the wait for the start in the sun. I had a headache later in the day and certainly a slight sunstroke. Rest and drinking quickly helped, though, and by Sunday I was fit again. Well, not quite. My muscles were already sore. We both did.

New look

As you may have noticed, the look of our website has changed. Now it is no longer my "work site" where I have attached the blog, so to speak, but the website is now our shared one.

On the one hand, I don't have a job here and probably won't get one in all probability, and on the other hand I can't work here as a self-employed fitness trainer. The regulations that have to be adhered to in order to be allowed to be a freelancer here are so excessive that it is impossible to do so officially. One point, for example, is to make a monthly tax return. However, you are not allowed to do this yourself, but have to have it done by a Chinese tax consultant. That alone costs about 5,000RMB/month. These have to be earned first.

Besides, I don't have any female clients. Not that there is no need here. When I look at the ladies here, there are some who would definitely have a need, but maybe the interests are distributed differently...

So I have decided to redesign the website.

Curse and blessing

So I have a lot of time. I have time to do things I have always wanted to do. I just don't know what I want. What do you do with time you have available but don't know what to do with it?

Go shopping? It's boring. Get into the share business? Too uncertain for me, and I find playing roulette exciting enough. Live out my hobbies? Yes, theoretically possible, but in practice they are hobbies that you would have to do in pairs (for kiting you need a take-off and landing buddy, for dancing you need a dance partner). Study again? I don't know what I should study then, besides, I would have to fly to Germany for exams, which is more than inconvenient in the current situation.

So you see, a lot of time and few ideas at the moment.

I prefer to spend my time with Denny. And when he's on holiday, that's great. But during the week there is always very little time left for us. Denny leaves the house at 6:30 in the morning and is rarely home before 18:00. Dinner and a quick talk about the day, then it's almost time to go to bed again, the alarm clock rings at 5:15. And that doesn't include the fact that Denny also attends evening events at work or has his own plans for his evenings.

The idea I had when I came here, namely to spend a lot of time with my husband, I had to say goodbye to once and for all.

So we are left with the weekends. Denny tries to fit all the things he can't do during the week into one day. And on at least one day we plan an excursion to the surrounding area.

Restaurant visits

Every now and then Denny and I go out to eat. As a former gastronomy manager, it's really difficult for me to observe how the guests are treated and how things are done in Chinese restaurants, because I've been trained in the ways of German and Austrian gastronomy. Not that we often go to Chinese restaurants, but they are international ones with Chinese staff. Sure.

Most of the time, the waiter brings you the menu. However, he then waits at the table until you have chosen. So either you choose quickly or you don't care that the waiter is standing next to you at the table all the time waiting.

If you have ordered, everything is brought out exactly when it is ready. So if your drink takes longer than the salad you ordered, you get the salad first. And if one main course is ready faster than the other, someone starts eating. Here, the dishes are not served together, so everyone at the table can start together. And if you make the mistake of ordering the starter, main course and dessert in one go, it comes to the table in the order in which the chef has it ready, regardless of whether you might still be chewing on your starter.

On a visit to the Italian restaurant here, ordered 2 glasses of wine, 1x bruscetta as a starter, pasta and pizza for the main course, things came in the following order: 1 glass of wine, bruscetta with pasta, 1 glass of wine, pizza.

I'm really struggling to get used to this. As a solution to not having to eat in perceived haste, or so that the main course doesn't get cold, Denny and I have come up with the idea that from now on, especially at this Italian place, we order the drinks first and wait until they arrive. Then we order the starter and finish it. And only then do we order the main course (but even then it's not guaranteed that our food will come at the same time). So it is and remains laborious.


What we also observed on one of our last trips:

A Chinese drove his car into the river or riverbed to wash his car. Unthinkable in Germany, you get tarred and feathered if you only wash your car on the road. Here it is apparently common.

The way of thinking here is often strange to me. Here in Changchun there is also a (clean) water shortage. The lakes and rivers are really murky and I don't think it's necessarily just the -20° winter that there have been so many dead fish. (We'd really like to get water samples tested) And although this is a really visible problem, the average Chinese person doesn't seem interested in changing that, preferring to take the luxury truck, mop and washing up liquid to the stream.

A few weeks ago, however, our kite club at the lake organised a clean-up day. The guys were also really busy on the beach. A medium-sized section was cleared of rubbish and fish. We already know what kind of work that is.

A week later we were there again, just the two of us. It looked as if nothing had ever happened there. Well, there were less dead fish lying around, but again lots of rubbish. And there were also tyre tracks. As if someone had done donuts on the beach, although there wasn't enough space for that.

We don't know whether the rubbish has been washed up again by the water, "dug up" again by the tyres, or whether it has been dumped again. But it makes us sad.


Anja & Denny


We really experience wild things here sometimes.

We can't take pictures of everything because we just drive by or it's too short a moment. So short that you shake your head and think it was a dream.

But it wasn't, because we both saw it!

But we don't want to withhold two pictures from you ;)

Electricity cables in the city:

Work Safety Level China

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