I’ve noticed that the more I travel and the busier I become, the more impossible it becomes to keep up with my travels in real-time. Well, never fear monthly recap posts are here!
What I was up to this month
This month flew by, but it was a good one. I had a quick visa trip to Hong Kong, which involved me stuffing my face with dim sum. I tried out a blind-man massage and fancy free acupuncture. Finally, I’ve been pretty social this month outside of my work friends (finally), and I’ve been getting down to business with my blog!
Where I went
Aside from living it up in Beijing, this month I went on a quick visa trip to Hong Kong. While I did spend a few hours in the visa office, I also took the ferry to Kowloon and wandered Hong Kong’s night markets. I spent a day exploring Stanley Market and the Stanley beach, and I made a quick stop at Tim Ho Wan, the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world!
1. My Trip to Hong Kong
This trip was a much-needed refresher from the monotony of working at a desk. I spent all of my time wandering around, exploring, and eating everything I could get my hands on. I’ve been to Hong Kong so many times, I thought I’d be a bit bored. But honestly I forgot how awesome Hong Kong is! This city is definitely one of the most interesting (and beautiful) cities in all of Asia. I could totally live there… minus the crazy-high rent.
Want to see what my trip was like? Here’s my final day in Hong Kong through Snapchat!
2. Making Actual Friends
As a Grad student in China last year, it was easy to make friends. College is inherently social, and I lived in a dorm! Plus I was able to join two student dance clubs and meet people just by walking outside my door.
But as a “real person” expat with a full-time job, it’s not that easy. Seriously, sometimes it is hard to make a solid group of friends as an expat. It feels like the more foreigners there are, the harder it is because everyone already has a group. When you do finally make friends, they all randomly leave.
WELL, this time I actually have a real group of friends outside of work and they are awesome.
About three months ago I met a girl from Seattle at a random bar. We kept talking about meeting up, but it took almost two months to make it happen. We finally got together at a different bar, which happened to be the same place that my ex whatever’s flag football group goes to every Saturday. (Beijing is a small world.)
Somehow the two of us ended up talking to one of the guy’s girlfriends for the entire night. I was shocked when I discovered this girl also has the same job as me?!
Now the four of us (boyfriend included) have the most fantastic WeChat texting group on the planet, and I’ve been spending every weekend hanging out with them. We had boozy brunch together on Saturday, and celebrated the Fourth of July on a boat this Monday! (I know it’s not technically June but whatever.)
After a solid 9 months of struggling, I can’t tell you how nice it is to finally feel like I have a real group of friends outside of work. For someone as ridiculously extroverted as me, it’s painful to consistently fail at making lasting friendships. Everyone I’ve talked to in Beijing has told me it’s taken them about a year to make a solid group of friends, so I’m glad it’s finally happened for me.
3. Wonderfully Free Acupuncture
This month I’ve been having crazy wrist problems, so I reached out to some WeChat groups to see if there was a place I could get acupuncture. One girl’s health center was offering free acupuncture and massage services for a weekend promotion, so I decided to go check it out!
The place was so fancy, I felt like I was at a spa… with medical professionals? After a brief consultation, where they asked me if I liked hot or cold foods and how many times I pooped a day, they sent me to a relaxing bath. The water in the tub was so brown it looked like tea, and it was so hot I actually thought my skin was going to burn off.
Next I had an acupuncture session where they placed needles in my wrists and ankles. Before my session I had a small cyst in my wrist from overuse, but afterwards it was completely gone! I’m definitely going to look into doing acupuncture more, especially since there’s a really good place just down the road from my apartment.
1. Work Overload
This month our lack of a third Western counselor has caught up with us at my college counseling job. My company’s inability to hire a third person has been really infuriating for both me and my other coworker because we seem to be the only ones picking up the slack.
Sometimes we need to have 5 or 6 hours of one-on-one student meetings a day, on top of all our other work. We’re also only supposed to have 15 students for this application season, and we have 23 students each! Even my Chinese coworkers are getting pissed, because they’ve had to take some of our students from us when we can’t be in two places at once.
Overall, my job is fine but we really, really, really need another person. At first I was mad at my company but now I’ve seen just how incredibly hard it is to find someone who’s qualified!
Seriously, if you’re at all interested please apply. I even wrote a whole blog post about how to become a college counselor in China. The pay is really good people!!!
2. My “I-Hate-China” Week
There was one week earlier this month where I was just about ready to run away. I think we all have one of those weeks as expats, but this one was especially bad. It was like LITERALLY NO ONE would give me a break.
Firstly, I was mad at my company for not hiring a third Western counselor, or at least making the Chinese counselors take on more work. Next, I got in an argument with a Chinese freelancing client who was trying to turn my editing job into a writing job without paying me extra.
When I confronted him about it and asked to be paid more, he called me “money-hungry”, referred to me as “girl” multiple times, and told me he could find cheaper labor elsewhere. Needless to say that partnership ended, but not without him texting me literally 800 times asking for me to come back.
The next morning I arrived at work to an inbox containing two extremely offensive essays written by my students. One was very racist and Islamophobic, while the other was super sexist. It was enough to make me want to slam my head on the keyboard and hide under my desk forever.
When I finally tried to treat myself and get a massage from a local blind woman, she spent the entire hour screaming at me (literally) to relax. This was kind of hard to do considering all the lights were on, the tv was blaring and her son was asking me questions in Chinese. Afterwards she told me I was incapable of relaxing and implied she didn’t want me to come back.
As I walked out of the massage parlor into the pouring down rain with no umbrella (of course), I actually started crying.
Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever hated China so much in my life. But, that was three weeks ago and I had a lovely refresher trip to Hong Kong. All is right in the world.
Challenge Turned Highlight:
As I said, last week I went to Hong Kong to get a work visa. After waking up at 4:45 am to make my 8 am flight, I rushed from the airport to my hotel, dropped my bags, and all but ran to the visa office to make sure I got my visa paperwork in before closing time. I sat in the visa office for three hours, and by the time I made it to the counter it was 4:30 pm and I hadn’t eaten anything since 7:30 that morning.
After a quick look at my papers the woman behind the counter handed them back to me. VISA DENIED. Apparently there’s a typo on my invitation letter and I’ll need to fly back to China and reapply later…. Wait… What?!
I frantically messaged my HR manager to tell him the news. There’s nothing I can do. They need an original copy. I’m screwed and have to fly back to China.
Then I realized…. I’m not paying for anything!
So, long story short, despite one stressful day, I had a lovely trip in Hong Kong and I get to go back again in a few weeks for free!
My Most Popular Post
I had a lot of messages about my “Islam is a Cancer”: Prejudice from my Chinese Students post. Despite one person calling me a “typical American idiot,” most of you seemed really interested in how I would deal with these offensive essays written by my students. While I was very nervous about having conversations with them, they actually both went really well!
What do you guys think? Should I write another post talking about what we discussed and how I dealt with it?
This month you guys loved this snapshot of a girl watching the sunset on a beach in Siquijor. Every night on this Filipino island my entire hostel would gather to watch the sun go down. Sometimes watching other people watch the sunset is just as beautiful as the sunset itself!
Your second favorite was actually a photo of me! I’ve been trying to post more photos of myself on Instagram, but I’ve been really self conscious because most photos of me are goofy and not the typical artsy shots I usually include.
However, after getting featured on Matador Network as a female travel Instagrammer who keeps it real, I figured it was time to start including more real photos of myself… Even if I don’t look like a travel Instagram model goddess. I guess you all agree!
A photo posted by Richelle (@adventuresaroundasia) on
Song of the Month
This month I’ve been rocking out to Mind by Jack U, which is an unbelievably sexy song that makes me want to go back to my days in the Shuffle Crew hip hop group. Also, the music video features some amazing travel shots!
What I’ve Been Reading
I’m almost done with Game of Thrones Book 4! Slowly but surly I’m making a dent in that epic saga.
As for blog posts, I have three favorites this month:
As someone who’s been looking to make a living online for years now, I’m a huge fan of Jon Morrow. However, until last week I had absolutely no idea he has such an incredible back story! Even if you’re not a blogger this piece is well worth the read. I feel so incredibly inspired. If he can follow his dreams why can’t I?
Visiting the Terrifying Hanoi Train Street– Journalist on the Run
While I’ve head of the Train Market in Thailand, I had no idea there was a street like this in Hanoi. I’m obviously a horrible travel blogger since I’ve been to Hanoi TWICE. Next time I get to Vietnam I’ll definitely be hitting this place up.
With the accessibility of the internet, it’s so easy to find information for any type of personality and lifestyle. While this is great for helping you follow your dreams and find your tribe, the problem arises when people get angry over information that’s not meant for them. Want to quit your job to travel? Great. Do you have a fulfilling career and a great life at home? Fantastic. Just because you don’t travel the world constantly doesn’t mean you’re not living a fulfilling life. You do you.
What’s Next in July 2017
I already can’t wait to tell you about my amazing Fourth of July in Beijing! Yesterday was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on a Fourth of July and I didn’t even have fireworks. (But puppies are close, right?) I’ll also be heading back to Hong Kong for another try at my visa. Second time’s the charm right?
How was your June? What have you been up to this summer?