Exploring the World

Progress in life

This week after I returned from China, I was able to register our marriage to Finland. Surprisingly, it was pretty painless operation after getting all the papers ready. When calculating, it took just about two months and now everything is ready on that side.

Now we have already entered the next larger project, Fangfang’s residency permit application has been submitted to consulate and now we are going through that process. Let’s see what kind of different steps there are waiting for us.

Many of you have asked about wedding pictures. Current schedule is that we will be getting pictures next week. So stay tuned and come back again to see those. I will try to put some of the nice ones online as soon as possible.

Oh no, not the landing already

Approaching Stockholm … I am in the middle of interesting movie. Can we take a scenery route through Europe so I can finish the movie? I want to know how this ends! Fog in Stockholm preventing the landing? Heavy rain? Anything?

But we landed on time … and now I don’t know how Anna & Anna ended. I need to get that movie. Don’t you just hate airlines when they are on time? ;)

Afternoon Tea

We decided to enjoy Afternoon tea, Häagen-Dazs style. Here is the Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Royal High Tea in Beijing.

Ice creamIce creamIce cream


A friend of mine asked me to write about food I have eaten in China. This is not a post to scare everyone, this is just my experiences and I have enjoyed all of these.

About food culture in Guangdong (Canton area for English speaking readers) one might say that it follows the following old wisdom you hear quite often:

You can eat anything, which is not quick enough to escape you. Especially good are everything, which has four legs. Except the table. You can eat everything, which flies except a kite or airplane. And you can eat everything living in the sea.

That quote can be found in the Internet quite easily and kind of describes the Guangdong food culture quite well. Of course it is humorous thing to say but there is some wisdom inside it.

Comparing the culture between Western and Chinese is sometimes very easy but understanding it, is sometimes very difficult. When you are comparing the food culture you should keep your mind open and be adventurous. I have tried to follow that principle and I have been positively surprised. I have learned that in China most of the people I have talked to are preferring to eat something, which has taste. What does have taste? We often prefer ordinary steaks and pieces of meat, which is common and have been known to be easy to eat. Does it have taste? Is ordinary steak too easy to eat and does it have a little bit mild taste?

On my last trip to Guangzhou, I was quite open minded and I for example came across with cow stomach, pig tongue, pig pancreas and fish swim-bladder. For a Finnish person those are pretty extraordinary and most of the people would skip the opportunity to eat those. My first experience with Chinese style cooking was in Shanghai in September 2006 when I boldly tried Pidan and a cake made out of Durian. Pidan is still one of my favorites and I rarely pass the opportunity to enjoy it. Durian has been my favorite since I tried it and I am pretty sure all the people around me hate me for that … or the smell coming from that. I don’t care, I love the taste.

So, how I liked the “odd” new things I tried last time? Well, I realized that the idea of enjoying something, which doesn’t have mild and ordinary taste is actually quite fascinating. Those things had an unique taste and they are different from ordinary “boring” meat. There is an idea behind it, maybe we are sometimes too scared to try new things and maybe we Western waste perfectly good food.

I don’t know about you and I respect everyone’s opinions but I recommend to keep your mind open and try the new things. You never know, you might like those. And if you travel to China, visit Guangdong area, it is truly a fascinating area regarding the food culture.

Flying again

Once again I am waiting for the next flight in Scandinavian Airlines Stockholm lounge. There is plenty of time until the next flight to Beijing. I used to spend quite much time in this lounge but then there was a time when I didn’t travel so much with SAS or at least wasn’t able to use their lounge. Now I am back. :-D

When I travel to China this much, the flying just becomes one form of the transportation. It is just like taking a bus somewhere. Just quite much longer. Flying hasn’t been anything fabulous for some time now but it isn’t annoying either. I feel quite much like being at home on board, I guess I have just got used to the whole flying. Sometimes there are some really fabulous experiences while flying but it looks like the next flight will be just ordinary Economy flight, I got lucky and got an upgrade on the previous flight, which was nice but the next one and at the same time the longest one seems to survive without my help. Oh well, you cannot win every time.

Maybe I will spend some time to check the movies on my next flight. :-)

Getting married

Getting married is usually pretty straightforward thing. You meet someone, you fall in love and then you get married. Either in local registration office or in a church. Pretty simple, right?

Being me and being global makes things a bit different.

In February I started the process in Finland, I had to get the certificate about my legal status regarding ability to get married. This pretty standard procedure for Finnish people started the whole chain of events. Our local registration office will give you a certificate in four different languages if you ask but that isn’t enough. In addition to that I also opted to get a birth certificate just in case. And the registration office issued certificate for being eligible for marriage needs to be official. So you will need to get it notarized and the notarization needs to legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stamp needs to legalized by the foreign embassy, in my case by the Embassy of People’s Republic of China. And guess what? All these different parties want some fee for their work. :-)

After getting all the different documents you are ready, right? Not exactly, then you will be starting your process in the foreign country and it depends of course on the foreign government what steps you will take there. In our case, we registered in Guangzhou and the local registration office has a complete department for foreigner-Chinese couples. So you proceed to the correct floor, wait for your turn and hand out all the necessary papers. And then you will be told that that certificate for marriage eligibility needs to be translated to Mandarin. You will proceed to another floor and another department, which will happily translate your paper while you wait and also stamps it to be legal translation. In the mean time you already took some photos together because the legal document, which you will receive in the end will require some photos. Then you proceed back to the registration floor where you will realize that you need to have official copies of the legal identification documents. And you get back to the another floor where they will take the official copies. After that you proceed to another office where you will pay the official marriage fee (9 yuans) and handout all the required documents, which you filled already in the registration office and which you have been collecting. After that only few minutes waiting and it is time to actually start the ceremony.

In the ceremony part you will basically read out the legal oaths and sign the documents. The judge will hand you the nice red booklet in the end of the ceremony and you will get some photos proofing the moment.

All of this took four hours so I can now understand why people do it on separate day in China and it isn’t considered as a wedding as such but more like a registration.

And what now? Now you are ready to start the process in vice versa. You will get the English translation of the official booklet stating your married status and then you will get the translation notarized by the local notary and then legalized in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the end you will get another legalization from the Embassy of Finland. After that you are ready to hand out that document to the Finnish registration office, which will proceed with the registration in Finland. So far we are now waiting for the legalized document from Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Everything should be ready some time around mid-April.

So, it takes about two months to get everything ready. Of course everything would go much faster if I would for example live in China or we would have opted to getting married in Finland. But who wouldn’t like to gather all these experiences and also have an opportunity to study international politics and how governments work?

So, at the moment, I am happily married. Although only in China.

Flight interruption

Once again there was a flight interruption in place. Already during the check-in in Guangzhou there was something going on but in Beijing it was already a fact that my flight to Stockholm with Air China would be delayed at least five hours. After a brief discussion with Air China, we agreed that re-routing would be the best option in this situation. As I was already in the international area and had gone through immigration I was officially already departed from China, so the first step was to get the depart stamp cancelled and an access to check-in area granted. Air China friendly assigned me a personal helper who took me through the immigration (cancellation requires manager approval and cannot be done in ordinary desk) and then guided me to the Air China check-in duty managers who started the process to get me into some other flight.

As Air China flights to Europe were already been closed then my option was Scandinavian Airlines to Copenhagen and soon I had new tickets and routing to there and then to Tampere. Quite smooth operation even including that I needed to re-check my luggage again with SAS.

Time for coffee


Mocha Frappuccino is the same in China and in the USA. Not a surprise though but it is really nice to get a refreshing beverage in the middle of a hot (for a Finn) day.

In China again

Here I am back in China again. And it has changed during the time I was away! :-D They got rid off the mandatory customs declaration form - oh, now I don’t have to fill two forms but only one. Now I miss filling the forms. So now China is more modern than USA with the formalities when arriving to the country.

The flight to China with Air China from Stockholm was actually very good, the plane itself isn’t anything big compared to Finnair or SAS but still everything worked very well and service is just much better compared to the Nordic competitors.

Currently waiting for my flight to Guangzhou in Beijing, having morning tea at the same time. Weather seems to be typically cloudy and hazy in Beijing but that is nothing new.