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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 I went to South Korea for a week! Randomly enough, Edna from Expat Edna and Lauren from Seegs Travels were also visiting the same time as me, so we booked a hostel room together. I had an amazing time hanging out with them, as well as a great two days exploring on my own.
As for the other three weeks in May, I kept myself pretty busy with work which was surprisingly fun this month. My coworkers and I had a hilarious “employee bonding day”, and we held a Graduation Party for our students that was… entertaining (those of you who follow me on Snapchat know what I’m talking about).
I also made a big effort to be social this month. I went to multiple comedy shows, tried my hand at improv, attended a beer tasting, and attempted to be artsy at a “drink and draw” event.
I also got a new roommate this month who’s Chinese. At first I was a bit anxious because she asked if her mom could stay with us for a month. A month?! I was very apprehensive that it would feel intrusive, especially since the TV is right outside my bedroom. Thankfully I was completely wrong. My new Chinese mom has cooked for me more times than I can count. She keeps our kitchen spotless, and she doesn’t speak English which forces me to practice my Chinese.
Where I Went
Aside from Beijing, I went to Seoul, South Korea for five days! I had to leave the country for my visa, so my company offered to fund a day trip to Hong Kong. Since I’ve already been to Hong Kong five times, I found a cheap flight to Seoul and asked if I could go there instead! It was only slightly more expensive than a flight to Hong Kong, so my company didn’t even bother making me pay the difference. I tacked a few vacation days onto a weekend and had an amazing trip.
1. Travel Blogger Adventures in Seoul
While in Seoul I stayed at Chingu Guesthouse with Edna and Lauren, who at the time were both living in Taiwan. Bizarrely enough, Edna and I actually know each other through Snapchat. Since I follow her daily adventures on the app, I felt like I already knew her when we met in person. I have to say Edna is just as lovely as she is on Snapchat, and Lauren is also incredibly awesome and hilarious as well.
If you’re interested you can follow Edna and Lauren on Snapchat at @ExpatEdna and @SeegsTravels
The three of us explored Seoul for a few days. We ventured to themed cafes, stuffed our faces with Korean food and met up with fellow blogger Karisa, who used to blog at My Hot Pink Suitcase, but now blogs at La Dame Darling. Karisa introduced us to her coworkers at the English academy she works at, and even invited me out to dinner a second time the night before I flew back to China!
It was so weird to finally feel like I’m a part of the travel blogger loop, since I’m usually so out of it living in China. Honestly though, I’m kind of glad I’m blogging in China all on my own because A) it makes me a bit unique and B) it keeps me from getting too caught up in blogging drama.
2. Theme Cafes Galore
While in Seoul I visited a cat cafe, a Hello Kitty cafe, a RACCOON cafe, and… another cat cafe. What can I say? I really like animals and coffee.
I was a huge fan of the first cat cafe, mainly because the cats were extremely social. The cats crowded around us the second we walked in the door, and many were interested in sitting on our laps as we sipped away at our coffee. We went right as it opened too (noon, in case anyone is wondering), so we had the cats pretty much all to ourselves! I tried to go back to the cat cafe on my last day, but unfortunately it was closed! I ended up walking to another nearby cafe that’s a little more famous. It has more cats, but also more people and the cats seemed a little less interested in us humans.
I know some of you may be wondering: a racoon cafe? Yes. I went all the way across town to find a cafe where you can play with raccoons. The raccoons are actually in their own little room so they don’t destroy the cafe, but you can play with them once you’re done with your coffee.
I played with those raccoons for a solid hour.
3. Beautifying Myself the Korean Way
Korea is famous for their incredible beauty products, and the girls and I were all over them. Our favorites were InnisFree and Nature Republic, although we tried out pretty much all the stores. I bought incredible natural BB cream, an eyebrow pencil, skin masks, a thick “greek yogurt” moisturizer, and aloe moisturizing spritz. What can I say? It’s dry in Beijing.
Thankfully the InnisFree and Nature Republic stores in China are only slightly more expensive than Korea, so I can purchase replacements when I run out. Also, I received a free sample of Jeju volcanic scrub that I NEED to buy, and Edna swears by the volcanic mask. All three of us have major beauty addictions now (especially Edna, she went back to InnisFree twice before leaving Taiwan).
I also tried a sample of a very expensive sheep placenta mask on my hand, which is supposed to be moisturizing and anti-aging. It was so bizarre how the placenta went from feeling like a thick rubbery mask to a dry piece of skin over the course of 30 minutes. I’m almost temped to buy one just to see if it really does anything for my face! If you want to try it out, this is the only decent one I could find on Amazon. Worst case you only wasted $4, and even then I wouldn’t call it a waste!
4. Hilarious Employee Bonding Day
Earlier this month my coworkers and I had an employee bonding day, which actually ended up being way more fun than expected. First we had a high-tech scavenger hunt, where we needed to find a set of 16 bases in a specific order using a compass and a map. It was held in a giant park full of hills, steep stairs, rivers, lakes and gardens. Since there were four different routes, and we all had staggered starting times, no one knew who was winning until we all returned back. Thank god I’ve been working out though, because this challenge involved a lot of running!
Some of the bases held challenges we needed to complete like jump roping on a mat made of soft Legos without shoes, walking with our legs tied together, and eating crackers off our faces without using our hands.
Next we headed to a movie set of an ancient Chinese town to play laser tag. They dressed us up in army clothing and had us carrying laser guns that looked like AK47s. We were split into teams and had to run around the complex killing one another. It was three strikes you’re out, which made the game super competitive! My favorite round was the finale in which there was a secret all-female assassin group. Our task was to annihilate all of the non-assassins without being discovered as traitors!
I don’t know if it’s possible for you to do this laser tag experience as a tourist in China, but I’m going to look into it. It was incredible.
5. Crazy Graduation Party
Last weekend my college counseling team held a graduation party for all of the seniors in high school who will be heading to the US for college next year. It started off normal enough, with speeches and certificates… and then things got weird. Firstly, two of my coworkers delivered a presentation on what you need to know before studying in America. This presentation involved a safe sex demonstration with them putting a condom on a banana. I’m seriously not kidding.
My task was to teach them beer pong and flip cup, without beer. Since we forgot to buy ping pong balls, we had to use Chinese checker pieces as the balls. This worked decently well, because the cups were also too small. Then we played a giant round of flip cup with orange drank, which was extremely competitive!
Let’s just say I got a LOT of comments on Snapchat about that day. “What is your job?!” “How is this allowed?!” “Where can I get a job like yours?!”
6. Amazingly Nice Messages from Readers
Is it just me or are you guys getting nicer? Seriously, I’ve had the kindest blog comments, Facebook messages, emails, and Snapchats this month. A few of them even made me tear up a bit! I’ve always tried to use my blog to build a community, rather than accumulate people as numbers. Every kind message honestly means so much, especially considering the amount of time and energy I put into this site with such a small financial return (still working on that second part).
A few of you have even suggested I do reader meetups in Beijing. Honestly, I wasn’t aware that I had enough readers in Beijing to make this possible, and I also didn’t think I was famous enough to have a “meetup”. I mean let’s be honest though, I keep talking about how I need more friends. If you want to meet up with me, let me know!
For those of you who are in Beijing, I was thinking we could do an EPIC Adventures Around Asia meetup. Let’s climb the Great Wall together! I know of a really cool spot that’s not officially open to tourists (don’t worry though, it’s popular enough that we won’t get arrested). I was thinking we could get together during the Dragon Boat Festival long weekend and do the hike together. Is this weirdly ambitious for a first meetup? I hope none of you are serial killers.
If you’re interested in the meetup or think we should do something a little less ambitious first (maybe a chill bar?) let me know in a comment!
Is it weird I can’t think of many lowlights this month? I guess that’s a good thing right?!
1. Applied for a new job and had to hide it from my current one
I couldn’t tell you guys this until now, but I actually applied for another job (let’s hope my current job doesn’t read this). It wasn’t necessarily that I didn’t like my current job, it was that I really wanted this other job. I’m not going to tell you exactly what the job was, but I can tell you it was to be a tour leader in a very off-the-beaten path country in Asia. I would be based in Beijing and then travel once every month or so.
The application and interview process took months, as the position was super competitive. I constantly felt stressed and guilty, knowing I could leave my current job at any moment. I was hesitant to get a gym membership near my current job (which I eventually purchased in March), and I was dreading getting assigned students for the fall if I was just going to leave them.
I also hid the job from my family, mainly because I was worried my parents wouldn’t approve. I eventually told my mom after I interviewed, and she took it much better than I thought she would. Like I said… it’s not your typical job.
2. …Then I didn’t get the job
After all the buildup and stress, I was a bit disappointed when I didn’t get the position. It would’ve been an amazing opportunity, and very interesting for all of you! But everything happens for a reason right? While I was upset, I was also a bit relieved that I didn’t have to go through the agony of quitting my current job.
Just because I didn’t get the job doesn’t mean I can’t go there on my own and write about the region anyway. Hopefully I’ll get there sometime in the next year or so, once I save up enough money for the trip!
Most Popular Post
My post How to Survive Traveling Solo in India, kind of blew up on Facebook, mainly among Indians! While I haven’t been to India yet, I wrote about why I still want to go, and why we shouldn’t write off full countries because of media sensationalization.
At first I didn’t think I was qualified to write on India since I haven’t been there. But then I realized that keeping all these resources to myself would be a shame. I’ve been compiling a lot of information on India travel, and I figured why not share what I’ve learned with my readers, while also pointing them in the direction of the bloggers who have spent significant time there.
Hopefully sometime in the next year I can make it to India and share my own experience with all of you! (So many travel plans, so little time).
This month’s most popular Instagram is a stunning beach sunset from Bohol’s Alona Beach!
The second most popular is a snapshot from a deserted beach in San Juan, Siquijor. Siquijor is tied with Siargao for my all-time favorite island in the Philippines, so if you’re taking a trip be sure to visit!
A photo posted by Richelle (@adventuresaroundasia) on
Song of the Month
I have a bunch of new favorites this month, so it was really hard for me to choose! Here are just two of the songs I’ve been rocking out to:
This music video is actually set in India! Not sure if Beyonce dressed in Indian garb is appropriate, but nevertheless it’s a beautiful video
What I’m Reading
Still working on Game of Thrones book four… But here are my top online reads!
Who doesn’t love a collection of juicy, steamy, love stories? I always love it when bloggers get personal, and I couldn’t get enough of this! I would love to write about this stuff, but my parents read my blog and that’s just awkward.
A big advocate of the Philippines, I was stunned to hear Nathan’s tale of how he was basically exiled from a portion of the Philippines, and then subsequently dragged through the mud by other Filipino travel bloggers for literally no reason. Read his story and prepare to be shocked!
I’m so glad Jeremy finally wrote about this. He’s been suffering from Lyme Disease for about a year now, and the effects are horrifying. Unfortunately, Lyme Disease can be very hard to diagnose, and it can be extremely serious if you don’t catch it early on. Hopefully this post will get the word out and help others who may be suffering from the same disease (from a quick look at the comments it already has).
Edna and I talked a lot about this while we were in Seoul, and I’m so glad she wrote this piece. I had no idea she faced this much discrimination abroad, and I’m happy people are finally talking about this.
What’s Next for June 2015
Hopefully a day-trip to the Great Wall! I also need to head to Hong Kong to get my work visa (FINALLY… only took them a year) in either late June or early July!
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