07/29/18

Where to go with kids in Guangzhou – Aoti Utopa Mall

New shopping malls made for kids are popping up all over Guangzhou. Aoti Utopa Mall used to be a furniture mall, but it has transformed into a kid’s paradise.It isn’t a fancy mall and looks old on the outside, but it has pretty much everything you need.

Address for taxi or GPS: 广州市天河区奥体南路12号优托虭·奥体店

So what does Aoti Utopa Mall include?

Outside there are amusement park rides, two water parks, wall climbing, diving training and other activities. Outside there is also two big slides for free that kids and climb and slide on.

Inside you find many indoor playgrounds, trampoline park, swimming playarea, shops, restaurants and a Auchan supermarket. The restaurants are more for the Chinese taste, but does have Pizza Hut as well those wanting western food.

Pictures from our visits:Carousel ride 20rmb or buy a set of tickets for 300rmb so each ride is 10rmb.Rentable stroller with airplane functions for the kid to enjoy. 3rmb per 15 minutes.Waterpark with a shallow pool for younger kids and deeper pool with more obstacles for older kids or adults. We bought a discounted ticket on 亲子周末 app and paid only 29.90rmb for both of us.Ball pit in the middle of the shopping mall. There is a “tree” climbing activity next to it as well for older kids.小Q indoor playground. This is a chain with locations all over Guangzhou. It doesn’t has as many climbing or slides, but has a lot of games, cars, role play, supermarket toys. One time ticket is around 80rmb.

This is just a small portion of activities and play areas that Aoti Utopa Mall offers. Go and see your self!

Parking is free for two hours. During weekends the huge parking lot gets full, so better to arrive early. This Saturday at 10:30 there was lots of space left, but at early afternoon when we left it was almost full.

All in all it’s worth to visit with kids!

07/29/17

Polyglot Toddler

Our daughter Anna is 1 year 9 months soon and experiencing her learning to speak is super exciting. I always thought I would know what her first word is, but in the beginning it was hard to say what counts as a word or not. 

At the moment she can understand Finnish, Cantonese and Mandarin. I speak to her in Finnish. Her dad speaks to her in Mandarin and Cantonese, his family uses Cantonese. Our nanny who worked for us almost a year spoke mostly Cantonese with Anna.

Here is a list of words she can say in each language.

Mandarin: cellphone (no other words yet)

Cantonese: wash hands, to hug, raining, go upstairs, small bird, dog, fish, water.

Finnish: boob, poo, pee, finished, more, cat, bag, flower.

She uses the word she knows, no matter if the person understands that language or not. The concept of language will develop much later. 

She is in a stage where she points at things and wants to know what the items are called, both in books and in real life around her. She also uses sounds to mean certain things too, like meow for a cat.

Next week Anna will start in a Japanese kindergarten which brings a new language to her mix. We weren’t planning on introducing Japanese yet (her dad speaks it fluently), but the daycare was the best option for us right now. It will be interesting to see what Japanese words she will pick up. They have English lessons too so let’s see if she starts speaking English as well!

I’m a monolingual parent, only spoke Finnish at home when growing up, it’s fascinating to see how my daughter learns to speak. 

05/14/17

Being a Mother in China


I was recently interviewed about being a mother in China so I wanted to share my thoughts on a blog post as well.

I bet most of the things about being a mother are the same all over the world. The huge amount of love and worry it entails. But of course there are a few differences as well.

Being a foreign mother means that many of the things I do seem a bit weird to local moms. I didn’t sit the month after giving birth, I took my baby out even during the “cold” Winter days. Baby led weaning isn’t a huge thing here now, so a toddler stuffing her self spaghetti by hand gets a few looks.

At the same time it frees me to be the mother I want to be. I’m different anyway so doing strange things is just normal for waiguoren in the eyes of locals. Any odd comment can be brushed away by “oh we Finns just do things this way”, as most haven’t been out of the country or at least not that familiar with Finland.

Another huge thing about being an expat mother in China are the ayis! Having a full time live-in ayi 5 days a week is what keeps me going! Childcare in the safety of our home, cooking and cleaning as a bonus. It makes haggling work and family so much easier by having a good nanny.

When it comes to family relations, in Finland moms seem to be able to do what they want but also receive little help from grandparents or extended family. In China family is always eager to help, but also brings their advice and opinions to the mix. 


Being a mother for a mixed trilingual (at least!) daughter is going to be full of adventures, surprises and challenges. Her world is so different from the one I grew up in, I hope I’m able to guide her the best I can.

This Mother’s Day I’m very grateful to my own mother who has always encouraged me to follow my dreams.

And to my mother-in-law who is surprisingly open minded and tries her best even though her daughter-in-law might be a bit difficult at times.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone!

12/21/16

Giving birth in Guangzhou – experiences from 5 hospitals

Being pregnant in a foreign country brings a bit extra stress to an expecting woman, especially when it comes to deciding where to give birth. I interviewed five women who all gave birth in Guangzhou or Foshan to share their experiences.

Choosing the hospital

When it comes to choosing where to give birth, the locations of the hospital is very important. Also recommendations from friends count a lot, as do a visit to the hospital. More about choosing a hospital check my previous post.

It is close to where I live. Several friends gave birth there and recommended it. It also has a good reputation for medical excellence. Jingxi Nanfang Hospital, Guangzhou

It was reasonable and have very good English-speaking doctors. They are very helpful at the hospital in all the sections. Guangzhou women and children hospital

It was next to our home… We heard more good comments than bad, our friends had babies there as well. Mother and child hospital in Tienhe

Good impression of doctors and facilities. Elizabeth

I was looking for a hospital which would let me have a VBAC. I knew a doctor who worked there, and one of my friends had 3 children there. Mother and Children Hospital in Foshan (VIP department)

 

Cost of the delivery

Cost of giving birth can vary a lot from a few thousands to tens of thousands of RMB.

  • Jingxi Nanfang Hospital, Guangzhou: Deposit of 5000RMB, birth is more or less depending on your case [Natural birth]
  • Guangzhou women and children hospital: 15 000RMB [C-section] 
  • Mother and child hospital in Tienhe: 12 000RMB [C-section]
  • Elizabeth: 55 000RMB (paid by insurance) [Natural]
  • Mother and Children Hospital in Foshan (VIP department): 15 000RMB [Natural]

 

Birthing experience

When it comes to being satisfied with the hospital of your choice or not, the birthing experience is high on the list of course. When making your choise, try to gather experiences from many sources to get the full picture. There isn’t a  hospital that would be perfect for everyone. For my own birth experience in Guangzhou, click here.

Very satisfied but I was also very lucky that I was the only one in the delivery room at that time, so I could get up and move around as I wanted and have our doula present.Jingxi Nanfang Hospital, Guangzhou


Yes very much satisfied. I stayed at the hospital for 6 days and it gave me a lot of time to recover from my unplanned c-section. Guangzhou women and children hospital


Well would be nice if they would have some courses for new moms, for example how to prepare breasts for feeding. I felt the information wasn’t enough. We couldn’t even get information on the prices, only when we left the hospital.

I don’t understand till now, why when we would go for check up every time – we would stay with the doctor for 10-15 min, but Chinese would take at least half an hour. And almost every time doctor would mention to me c-section, even I didn’t have any problem (ok I was big but she should feel and by scan should know that my baby’s size is good for natural birth. So I felt that it was a bit planed from doctor already.

I was late 6 days, when I came they told me if you won’t deliver till 7am we will help you. In my country doctors first doing everything to give u a chance to delivery by yourself. Not so much information, just paper singing even when you are on the table with the big pain – a lot of papers.

After our baby was born, they didn’t put my baby on my chest. Which I really would have wanted. But I thank them still cause me and the baby are healthy. I liked there that they had ayis to help out after delivery, you had to pay money for them, but it was worth the money.  Mother and child hospital in Tienhe


Very satisfied with everything. Delivery went very well, they listened to all my wishes, and I was even allowed to give birth in water even if my water had broken (this is normally not allowed in China, but still perfectly safe). Elizabeth


I am very happy to have had a VBAC. The service was great, we had a 24-hour Ayi in our room. My husband was present all along. Nobody ever forced me to have a C-section or a medication, midwives let me try giving birth in different positions. The hospital had some gifts for us, including a photo shoot at a professional photo studio. Mother and Children Hospital in Foshan (VIP department)

 

Advice for others planning to give birth in Guangzhou

The women I interviewed also gave useful advice for all the other women in the same situation.

  • If you don’t speak Chinese, hire a Chinese speaking doula
  • Do research on the doctors who give you check ups, choose the one that fits for your
  • If you want an answer, sometimes you need to push the doctors to give it to you
  • Make sure you and your doctor click
  • Ask lots of questions, anything that comes to your mind
  • Ask if the paperwork can be done beforehand, not when you are pushing your baby out
  • Make sure the doctors and nurses support you
  • Ask how they deal with emergencies
  • Ask what they consider a natural birth is

For more information on being pregnant in China, check my earlier blog posts.

11/12/16

12 things I’ve learned in 12 months of raising a child in China

Carrying a baby is a necessity in China

Carrying a baby is a necessity in China

1 The whole village wants to parents your kid. You get lots of parenting advice every time you dare to leave the door with your precious baby. She should wear more clothes! Where are her socks? She must be hungry! Everyone wants to lend their best piece of advice for free.

2 You become the center of attention. Like being a white foreigner wasnt enough, now I get even more attention when I go out with our daughter as Chinese think mixed kids are the cutest and want to drown her in pleasant small talk. They usually mention her big eyes and white skin, or how cute and chubby she looks.

3 Formula companies are winning in China. Unfortunately the baby milk formula companies are doing such a great job in lobbying their products and making money, that they make Chinese women insecure with breastfeeding. Relatives give cans of formula as a gift for new mother, expecting that they need it. Along this comes the scams related to milk powder, making Chinese purchasing formula abroad for big bucks.

4 Too many cooks spoils the soup definitely fits the Chinese way of parenting where a baby has parents and grandparents going circles around him. If they all share common views on child raising, great, but more often than not, four people means four different ways of raising a child. My parents-in-law took their grandson (our daughter’s cousin) for a haircut in secret because their daughter and the mother of the son, had refused it.

5 Everyone is willing to help you. No matter where I go with a baby, other people jump of from their seats on public transport to give us a seat. Restaurant staff will entertain babies and toddlers while you eat your lunch. Once I even had a customer sitting next to me playing with Anna while I was eating out alone with her. Chinese people love babies and are really willing to help!

6 Baby carrier like Manduca or Ergo is a life savior in China. Many Chinese cities aren’t built for strollers or prams, making it difficult to go around with a baby, unless you have a nice baby carrier and then you are free to explore everywhere! My Manduca carrier is one of the best, if not the best, baby product I got this year and I can’t imagine how I could have managed the baby year without it.

7 The belly button is an open port for illness to enter the body. No matter hot or cold, the Chinese want to keep the baby’s belly button covered so they won’t catch a cold. When ever I was changing diapers, my mother-in-law would remind me to cover the belly with a small towel.

8 Shopping craziness starts with a baby. For many mothers, Chinese mothers too, it’s a transition time in shopping habits when a baby is about to be born. In China online shopping and Taobao makes it super easy to buy anything you need, fast and easy, which makes for many unnecessary purchases. My sister-in-law is a prime example of a shopaholic mom who isn’t afraid on spending money on her son.

9 Educational companies are making big bucks with courses for babies. Speaking of spending, parents are the most likely to spend money and it’s all for the best of their kids. Educational companies have noticed this and are offering a variety of courses starting from as small as 6 months. International or “international” day cares are doing good business in China at the moment and monthly fees can go to 7000rmb per month or higher!

10 Cantonese babies bathe daily. Here in the south it’s hot most of the year so it’s quite natural that everyone bathes or showers daily. But during our baby’s  first Winter I was following the Finnish custom of giving a bath just a few times per week. My Chinese family thought it was really weird not to give her daily baths! After she started eating solids at 6 months she started daily showers too as it was, and is, way too messy!

11 A sick baby is rushed to a hospital right away. No matter if it’s just a little fever or a running nose, Chinese parents or grand parents often rush the precious kids to a hospital for remedies. As the weather is changing, Anna is having a running nose and our nanny is really worried already and bundling her up in layers of clothing. I bet if grand parents were taking care of her they would have been to the hospital already!

12 A baby is the center of your life. This I totally agree with the Chinese though out methods are different, after you become a parents your baby is the center of your life. No matter which culture, we all want whats best for them and use the best of our abilities to provide them a happy and healthy life.