top of page
  • Writer's pictureAnja

Life stories and Hainan 2.0

We are once again sending out a sign of life. It's been more than 5 whole weeks since we've had any news from us. I've already written about how quickly time flies here.

In the meantime, I have also decided to continue writing in first-person mode. It's much easier for me than writing about myself in the 3rd person. So from now on you will only read about me, Anja, in the first person. If Denny also feels like writing about his experiences personally, we will clearly mark that here so that there are no misunderstandings ;)

In the last few weeks Denny was sick, we were on holiday, Denny had his birthday, we fixed our shower and our flat is available for subletting. That all this fits into 5 weeks is actually almost impossible. But let's start from the beginning:

After my somewhat unsuccessful Hainan holiday at the beginning of March, Denny and I started planning a holiday together. Should it be Hainan again? Do we want to go somewhere else? We already wanted to kite, so where do we find wind? Where can we go at all without having to go into quarantine afterwards? Where is it moderately warm, so that we can feel a little summer feeling after the long winter... and and and. In the end, we decided to go to Hainan. The decisive factor was that our friend from the northern Chinese kite club also receives and teaches his students there. So we booked our holiday for early to mid-April. (Actually, this would be the period when we wanted to celebrate our free wedding in Germany...).

We passed the time until the holiday with other exciting things. So besides Denny's work and my housewife job...

First of all, we have to exchange our Golf in May. The leasing company's contract for the current one is expiring. So we have to get a new one. We didn't want a Bora or a Sagitar, it has such a crappy rear boot. Just a limousine. It should be a Golf. After some back and forth we now get one. In fire engine red. Most of the cars here in China are white. The Chinese think that the cars look bigger then, and everyone wants to have the biggest car here, hence white. I think red is hard to miss, black we both find too drab and such a nice gold-grey as now was not available.

Denny has ordered a roof tent. The thing weighs about 60 kg and we have already set it up in the garage. We haven't mounted it on the car yet, the right fasteners are still missing. In any case, we have enough space for the two of us. There are no camping regulations in China. Everyone is allowed to camp wherever they want, even if it's on the main road (I've already seen this), but I haven't yet decided whether I really like the idea of free and wild camping here. First I'll see how the package is attached to the roof rail and how I can safely trust it...

Denny already has ideas about where to take the tent. To Dalian, or to the kite club or or or. There are 5 free days here again at the beginning of May. I'm sure we'll spend a few of them on the road. Two weeks before our holiday, Denny came home from work with a cold. A trip to the pharmacy unfortunately didn't have the desired effect. You can't get medicines like Grippostad or similar here in China. Even simple vitamin C or zinc tablets are not available here. (Of course, you can order them via Taobao, but they usually come from Germany, are very expensive and have a long delivery time). But there is a fruit shop next to the pharmacy. So I bought some vitamin C in the form of fruit for Denny. I also moved out of the shared bedroom and spent the nights in the guest room. When I take care of Denny and he is healthy again, I am almost always sick. And since the holiday was just around the corner, I really didn't want to take any risks. I stayed healthy, by the way, so my tactics worked.

For a long time, we had both been bothered by the fact that the water in both showers stood still after use. The drains are set in such a way that the remaining water never runs off and there is always at least 4-5 cm of water left in one corner. Yes, you could put a squeegee in the shower and use it after every wash. But honestly, who does that? So the water stands there until the next time you use it, because the air is not so dry that it would evaporate by then, and you step into a cold puddle with bare feet. Not nice.

We thought and thought for a long time about how we could solve the problem. We had both ruled out telling the landlady right from the start. If she reacts at all, she'll only send a couple of Chinese to our house. And I've already seen how that turns out with my bathtub. So it's better to do it yourself, then at least it will work.

My idea to open up the floor and lay the tiles again, so to speak: "if then properly and very neatly" stood against Denny's idea: we dump epoxy resin on it until the sink is filled, variant: "little effort, big result".

Now that we have repaired the damage, I am finally allowed to write about it. Before, Denny had asked me not to do so because he was embarrassed by this mishap.

What happened?

We decided on Denny's variant: "Little effort". Denny orders 4 litres of epoxy from Taobao. As soon as they arrive, Denny mixes the mixture and starts pouring. I quickly run after him and tape around the drain cover so that nothing runs down the drain. Now it was time to wait. After 24 hours, I carefully touched it to see if it was already solid. Our conclusion: Joar, it looks good. Not perfect, but neat. "Turn on the shower and see if it drains well".

It drained well too. At least up to the point where the drain was full. So we epoxied the traps with our action. The resin ran past the cover of the drain and into the drain. Here it filled the pipe and became solid. All the knocking and shining with the torch did not help. The drain was blocked, our faces were long and we could have taken a bath in the shower.

So the next order from Taobao: a long drill with a hole circle end to drill out. When the drill was delivered, we were like cats with a torch and a drill, hanging around the mouse hole to see how far we had to drill, and in between we kept sticking the hoover pipe in to remove the crumbs. Denny worked his way forward centimetre by centimetre until he heard: "It's getting lighter, I think we're through!

In deed, we were through! He had drilled up to the kitchen ceiling, where the ceiling lights are. (as the kitchen ceiling is attached, that wasn't so bad either, you couldn't see it from the "outside") So the water would now drain again, but into the kitchen ceiling. So still not the perfect solution. But since we are order champions at Taobao, another order went out that evening. This time it was pipes and corners and glue and pipe clamps and a jigsaw to saw open the kitchen ceiling.

After a supplier delivered a wrong pipe with a 90° corner instead of a 45° corner, we finally have a working drain in the shower after 2.5 months, a hole in the kitchen ceiling that won't be seen again later and Denny one or two grey hairs. My job was just to hand out tools and scrape the epoxy out of the shower.

So if you ever want to straighten a shower with epoxy - don't do it, it will backfire! So much for "little" effort, big result.....

Shortly before our holiday, my brother André and my mum cleared out our flat in Braunschweig. For the time we are here in China, we don't want the flat to stand empty and unused. So we will sublet it. We have agreed with our landlords, but now we need someone who wants to live there for the time.

Actually, we had planned to sort everything out ourselves. But since we had to postpone our wedding until September, we had help from Ute and Andre. All the personal things we still had in the flat are now stored in the cellar. Thank you very much you two.

And a big thank you also to Patricia. Best neighbour you could wish for. She takes care of our mailbox, our Kedi and all the other things we can't do from here.

I have started a new project here. Until my birthday in May, our terrace should become more beautiful. I want to get rid of the old bench where you get splinters in your butt and replace it with something sensible and beautiful.


Current status:

Our Holiday

Since I had such a dilly-dally with the sports luggage last time, the planes only take it as excess luggage here and you can't declare it in advance either, we had to find another solution for our holiday together. After some research, we came up with the following solution: we send our luggage in advance by post. Cost, insured, 35kg: 301RMB (approx. 37€) Is there a catch? Yes, there is. You can only book it via an app, and of course it's in Chinese. So it was Denny's job to order the pick-up with his colleagues. Everything worked out so far. The pick-up man arrived at the agreed time. Our sports luggage was already packed and ready, so all he had to do was take it with him.

So simple, so good?

No, of course not. We are in China!!!

The good man wanted to look inside the package to see what was inside. (Denny and I had lovingly packed our boards in bubble wrap the night before, the bars and straps non-slip and the neos as padding) After he already wanted to cut the luggage straps with a box cutter, I preferred to unpack our package myself, let him take photos and repack everything. Time spent: about 1.5 hours.

After everything was well tied up again, I thought, now he'll take it with him. No, unfortunately he still didn't. The packaging was not enough for him, our parcel needed a wooden frame. He wanted another 270RMB (about 34€) for the wooden frame. Neither the assistant at Denny's nor my Chinese teacher could convince the man that our parcel was also packed so well. Without a wooden frame, he did not want to take our luggage. When I asked him if he was taking the piss because I was a foreigner here, he said no. Later, however, it turned out that he wanted to rip us off. We sent our parcel without the wooden frame for the 301RMB we had booked. Just from a different shop.

Does the term "chiseler" actually come from "chink"? Yes, I know, not really, because historically a chink is someone who has been expelled from the guild, e.g. because he wasn't honest. But it's a bit close. Especially with such experiences.

But everything went smoothly with the shipment, our package arrived and we have no losses to report. We did the same on the way back, but it hasn't arrived at home yet.

Denny has already made a video about our holiday. Have a look.

And yes, we are now proud owners of a Youtube channel Anja & Denny. Little by little we will publish our videos here, but you still have to be patient, it's all still in its infancy ;)

What you don't see in the video, I'll tell you here:

Since I knew from my last stay there that the food is very spicy, I had brought ketchup and whole-grain bread from home. We only ate the bread on the return flight and the ketchup was unfortunately also spicy....

Denny saved me, though. One evening he ordered 4 burgers and took a bite out of all of them to see which one was the least spicy. I was then allowed to eat that one. If that's not love! Rice without sauce and toast is always good, plus a bit of fruit. It may not be particularly nutritious or balanced, but it's okay for 11 days. But together with our kite instructor buddy, we also cooked Chinese food one evening. It was delicious and not at all spicy. And one evening we went to eat in a street restaurant. Right at the crossroads in town. We had plenty of grilled oysters. We paid 200RMB for 4 people, until everyone had eaten their fill. (25€)

During the time we were there, there was a meeting of important Chinese economic officials. The website says that this event can be (or would like to be) compared to the World Economic Forum, only for the Asian region. Our hotel was full of police recruits and imported food had been removed for fear of being checked by officers. There was already no cheese, no jam, no whole-grain or multigrain bread, and now there was no butter for toast. When we asked if we could get some, they told us about their concerns about the imported food and let it slip that we could have breakfast with butter in the room. And so we did. However, here in China there is always a difference between expectation and reality.

To this day, I cannot understand what is dangerous about butter. Especially since they didn't stop all imports. Cars were still there; as far as I know, they are not a Chinese invention. There was also electricity and a lot more.... Somebody understands the Chinese!

What is not so noticeable here in the city, but really obvious on Hainan, is that as long as the Chinese, mostly in the city, have someone cleaning the street, everything looks fine and tidy. But as soon as you are no longer in the catchment area of the street sweepers, it looks terrible. There are tons of rubbish lying around. On the street, on the beach, in the water... The Chinese also just throw their rubbish over their shoulder. When Denny was driving back to the hotel, he saw a scooter driver emptying his bags into the ditch. When Denny got out of the car and told him clearly that this was a bad habit, he put his rubbish away again.

I was so proud of my Denny. Unfortunately, I wasn't there, but that was the first time Denny raised criticism about this country loud and clear, and not just at home in a quiet room. And yes, I agree with him wholeheartedly. The Chinese over 35 are sluts. Why over 35? Denny and I had this explained to us independently. He from one of his co-workers, I from my Chinese teacher. All those who are older than about 35/40 have not studied. No, probably not all of them, but most of them. Universities haven't been around that long in China, my teacher says. So the older generation here is less educated, or educated differently. The tragic thing is that exactly this generation sits in the government. Deeply rooted in old and outdated traditions, they cling to them and are surprised when the younger generation rebels. Especially during our holidays, through this economic forum, this latent insecurity was noticeable. A very large police and military presence. Chanting in the morning and evening. Marching in lines of two. The whole town was cleaned for this visit, flowers planted, streets swept and mopped, the beach closed. Access was only through a gate. All tourists, staff, residents, suppliers, taxis, visitors and participants had to pass through. They had to get out of the car, hand in their ID cards, have their bags checked, open the boot, let the dog sniff through the car. We also had to go through it once. We even had to go to the adjacent police station, because we only had our passports, which were entered into the computer there. At least they didn't complain because we only had our passports in electronic form. Yes, you feel uncomfortable, x-rayed and insecure. Even if you haven't done anything wrong, like we did, you start thinking about what could have gone wrong. I don't usually mind all the cameras here, but I found the procedure exhausting and frightening. And we weren't even close to the conference. It was at the other end of the city on an island. Luckily, our hotel was outside this security zone.

Nevertheless, our holiday was great. We had many beautiful days, sunshine, went surfing and kiting, discovered a great camping hotel, went for walks on the beach, drank coffee, lay in the sun, ordered too much food, and so on:

Back home and relationship management

Back home, we notice that spring is also slowly arriving in Changchun. The first trees are greening and blossoming. It is getting much warmer, yesterday 25°C, today only 18°C again. At night it is still very cold, sometimes below zero. Nevertheless, our heating is already turned off. So at home it's maybe 16° in the morning. You don't really want to get out of the warm and cosy bed. We don't turn the heating back on until the end of October, regardless of whether it's still warm then or not.

In the last few months, I have often thought about coming back home. I didn't feel welcome here and even now I often feel homesick. In the meantime I know that it is not only me who feels this way. A colleague of Denny's had a terrible first year. Hearing that others are also having such a hard time makes me feel good and gives me hope that things can almost only get better. Of the two big expectations I had when we said goodbye, the one -work for me- has vanished into thin air. Still, of course, I try to keep myself busy and find things to do that bring me joy. My second expectation, to take our relationship to a new, deeper level, has also proved very difficult in recent months. Denny is ambitious and eager to lead his staff, invests a lot of time in his work, works more than in Germany and, of course, has wishes and ideas for his free time. Of course, they don't always coincide with mine. If he needs a rest from a long day, I'm bored at home and bother him with questions, stories and things I could think of during the day. I'm sure you can understand that this leads to disagreements. I don't think I speak only for myself when I say that we both feel misunderstood and partly ignored. So instead of the togetherness and endless harmony I expect and desire, there is often impatience and arguing about little things that probably wouldn't upset either of us under other circumstances. Finding a way here that is satisfying for both of us and doesn't take advantage of either of us is a task that is not done overnight. For me, after the months here, it was great to be on holiday with Denny. It was nice to watch the stress release, his brow smooth out and he relaxes. He doesn't talk much about work at home and he is never stressed after work. He says. I see and, above all, feel differently. In short, the holiday was good for me and I think it was good for Denny, too. Unfortunately, the relaxation after the holiday is always over again quickly.

We are planning to come to Germany in September. We still have a few kilos left for the flight to Frankfurt. So if you have any wishes for what we should bring back from China, please let us know.

And just today I read that there is now Lockdown 3.0 in Germany, so even if I'm homesick, I don't want to change places either...

Best regards

Anja & Denny

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page