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  • Writer's pictureAnja

May in Changchun

Our first wedding anniversary

On our first wedding day (registry office) we surprised each other. I surprised Denny with a homemade chocolate heart cake and Denny surprised me with a huge bouquet of flowers. Similar to Fleurop or the like in Germany, you can order flowers here via an app. However, they are not sent by the post office, but brought directly to your door by a scooter driver. The app is actually called Meituan. But with a picture of a kangaroo on it. So we just called KangarooApp and kangaroo men bring the ordered things. Flowers, food or even pharmacy orders, anything goes and in a relatively short time. That's something I think I'll miss in Germany. If you order there, you wait for the post office or the food delivery man, because every restaurant has its own supplier. Here it works differently: the kangaroo, which is close to the pick-up point, takes the order and delivers it. Done.

On Hainan, we even had ice cream sundaes delivered to the beach. Suuuper!!

First May

Over our long May weekend, Denny and I set off for the first time with the roof tent. We filled the car to the roof with kite gear and SUPs and drove to a lake about 1.5 hours from Changchun.

The kite club is also based there. However, we didn't go to the property, but looked for a nice spot nearby. The lake is really huge. Almost 30 km long and up to 10 km at its widest point. Part of the shore is declared a kind of nature reserve. When we arrived, we were stopped by, we think it was firemen. They gave us a piece of paper with Chinese writing on it and waved us through. Later, we translated the note with the help of a mobile phone and translation app. From mid-April to mid-September there is a danger of forest fires. Open fires such as cigarettes, barbecues or similar are forbidden and will be severely punished. So our steak, which we had in the cooler, had to wait. Happy about our pasta salad, we unfolded our tent in the afternoon. Loosen the straps, lift the lid, take the stairs out - DONE. It took about 5 minutes. Well, we also had to put away the bedding and so on, but it was really quick and stable.

We still have to optimise a little, the mattress is a bit thin (in the morning I didn't know which side to lie on) and we also have to consider the wind for the next day when looking for a camping spot.

When you put the tent back together, you fold in the stairs, put the tent sheets in the sides and close the lid. As in every tent, moisture collects overnight, so you have to let it dry before packing it away.

What really surprised us, however, was the death cult in the corner. We have seen a cemetery on Hainan, but not here in and around Changchun. At the lake, however, the dead are buried in the forest. It seems as if the families look for the most beautiful place in the forest for the deceased. Then they dig a hole, put the dead person in it and shovel a huge mountain of sand on top. Afterwards, the whole thing is hung/sprinkled with foil flowers and plastic tinsel. So plastic and glittery stuff, which is now forbidden in most registry offices. It flies around in the forest. Sometimes the relatives hang a solar loudspeaker in the trees to play music to the dead. You can find a pile like this on every corner. And always with a TOP view of the lake.

After our trip, the following ended up in our Taobao shopping cart: A cigarette lighter kettle. Since open fires are not allowed, we can at least make coffee this way. Denny's idea of ordering a device that runs our electric grill on electricity from the car battery is good, but not feasible in practice. The device fits on the car, but delivers too little for a socket grill with a measured 1700 watts, although it was advertised with 2000W continuous power and 4000W peak power. Basically, the power converter worked, but after a minute it was hotter than the grill and then went to overload. Maybe it will be a Cmaping gas barbecue after all, it also has open fire, but has virtually no smoke development and should therefore not be noticeable.

On our way back we saw a snake:

We carefully rolled the car next to it and took a photo outside. We don't know if they are poisonous or not, but we didn't want to test it out. It was probably 50-70 cm long. So bigger than any slow worm or grass snake I've seen so far.

Ladies Breakfast

Last week I had the breakfast ladies for a visit. This is a group of women who do NOT live in the german village and meet once a month for breakfast. In turn, each one hosts a meeting. This time it was my turn, or rather I volunteered. It was a really great morning, although I didn't want to get up at first. Each of the women brought something, so we had a really sumptuous breakfast. And we didn't manage to eat it all. Little by little, I'm getting to know more and more people here and I'm getting to know more and more. One of our group told me that she gives courses at the university. But even there, I don't think everything is in the bag yet with the registration. So I keep seeing that it's not just me, or has been.

The first accident

Denny has been cycling to work since the weather got warmer. So I often have the car to get around. This week I wanted to go to the fabric market first to get something for the terrace and then to the plant market to get some flowers. Since there are always whole street sections or markets here where the individual vendors gather, you almost never have everything in one place. You always have to drive a bit.

On Wednesday, a Chinese woman drove into my car. It's nothing serious, actually just damage to the paintwork, but since it's a leased car, we had to follow the planned process.

Call the leasing company, call the insurance company - wait for feedback, don't move the car. The leasing company or the insurance company then makes the decision whether to call the police (at least that's how I understood it). The police were not called, but an employee of the insurance company or the leasing company was supposed to go and assess the damage directly on site. After 2.5 hours of waiting, I got a call from Denny saying that I could drive on without an expert being there. I can't say exactly how that went down in the background, but it completely threw my day's planning out of whack.

But what exactly had happened now?

I wanted to drive out of a narrow street. The Chinese woman wanted to enter the street. Since very few people want to wait here, not even at the lift (first out, then in), she turned into the street. I stopped and could neither move forward nor to the side, because I was already standing at the edge. She still drove on. I had the presence of mind to fold in my mirrors, otherwise she would probably have been hit too. As she was still driving, the rear wheel arch on the driver's side was hit. Only then did it stop. It took another 2 minutes until she understood that she really had to drive back. The road would have been wide enough to pass each other, but in an SUV the view is not so good. Anyway, damage to the paintwork.

Kiting and Beach Clean Up

On Saturday we went to the kite club with friends. We had already posted on the WeChat group that we would be there on Saturday and were planning a beach clean-up and were looking forward to a lively turnout. Although the lake is a reservoir and some of the shores are declared a nature reserve, there is still a lot of rubbish floating in the water and being washed up. Barefoot walking on the beach is not possible and digging in the sand with small children? Not a chance. As long as you don't feel comfortable among pine trees, fishhooks, plastic bottles, polystyrene sheets and dead fish, a day at the beach here is not much fun. Unfortunately, there was no response to our appeal. I can only guess what the reason for this is, and I don't want to imply to our Chinese acquaintances that they don't think it's important. Perhaps they simply couldn't translate the message. In any case, we collected a tonne of rubbish from the kite club, half a bin of rubbish from a stretch of beach and a bin of stinky fish.

At the top of the site it already looks quite good, but down on the beach it is a Sisyphean task. We'll have to do it again, and especially try to encourage the Chinese athletes to do the same. Dead fish and other dirt are constantly being washed up. First the work, then the pleasure. Denny measured the northern half of the lake with the foil and I went out again in the late afternoon. In a long wetsuit, though, despite the warm 27° degrees. I was so disgusted by the water, and at the front of the beach it really stank incredibly of old fish. I almost prefer the Steinhuder Meer. We're not sure if it's the fish left over from the hard winter, if the water quality is not good or if there are just too many fish in the lake. But one thing is certain: the lake is simply huge and there are lots of fish. With the right wind direction, everything drifts into a corner.... I refrained from cheering about successful jumps on the water so that I wouldn't get water in my mouth.

My garden project

In the meantime, summer has really arrived here. The whole week we have had temperatures beyond 25° Celsius. Even before 9 o'clock in the morning, the sun is so hot that you have to put a cloth over your bare legs on the terrace. My terrace project is almost finished, only a few details are missing, but I am already very satisfied. Would you like a little progress report?

My birthday present to myself

Today is my birthday. In the afternoon, a few guests will come and there will be cake. There's still a bit to do before then, but I'm looking forward to it. This morning I got the most amazing bouquet of flowers of my life from Denny.

Over the last few weeks I have been working on a gift for myself.

From now on, you can support us not only by reading and distributing our blog. In my thoughts about how I could work here, under what conditions I could become self-employed here (which, by the way, are unfulfillable...) I had not considered "creative work" until now. Although I've actually been doing that with my blog all along. But woods and trees... you know what I mean.

So from now on you can find our (Speadshirt-)Shop here on this page. We would be happy if you find something here that you like. Do you have any ideas for a new design? Keep them coming.

And more short updates:

  • Our flat is still not rented. So if you know someone who would like to live in Stöckheim for a while. Get in touch with us.

  • Our first package from Germany to us is on its way, thanks to my mum Ute and my brother André. We will report how long it took, if it arrived at all and in which condition it was ;)

  • In the near future there will be more changes here on the website, just let us surprise you.

We think of home often and send you our love from a distance,

Anja & Denny

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