The Freedom Life: August 2019

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After five years of living in China, and two years of This Beijing Life, things have changed. I left my job as a college counselor in China, and now I’m living a life on my terms. I’m my own boss, I travel when I want, and live where I want. I’m FINALLY living my dream of location independence.

I hope you’ll all follow me along on my new journey: The Freedom Life.

Want to know what it's like to be a location independent digital nomad in Hoi An Vietnam? #digitalnomad #locationindependent #hoian #vietnam #travel #travelblog

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What I Was Up to in August

This month was a big one! Firstly, Chris and I filmed a reality tv show about our expat lives in Hoi An. It was super fun but also very intense! This month I also moved from Vietnam back to Australia, where I’ll be getting the last minute details ready for my wedding in Australia!

Where I Was This Month

  • Hoi An, Vietnam
  • Saigon, Vietnam
  • Ben Lomond, Australia
House Hunters International Hoi An

Shopping at our local market! (Photo by Itchy Feet Media)


Here are a few of my favorite moments from the month of August!

Filming a TV Show in Hoi An

At the start of the month, Chris and I filmed a reality tv show about our expat lives in Hoi An. It was such an interesting experience and a really hectic five days of filming! We explored Old Town, drank avocado coffee, lit lanterns on the river, tried a cooking class, had salsa lessons on the beach, and made our little foster kittens famous!

The most hilarious part of filming was the fact that I needed to wear the same dress every single day. Hoi An in the summertime is HOT and I have to say, that dress was really gross by the end of the week…

Overall, the filming was super fun and I’m really glad I did it. The crew was great to work with, and I honestly can’t wait for it to go live in a few months! I’ll be sure to make an announcement on how you can watch when it’s released!

Hoi An Salsa Class

Salsa class on the beach!

Lots of fun times with our Hoi An Friends

Last year when I lived in Hoi An, I didn’t really feel like I knew many people. I worked from home and didn’t really know many people staying in Hoi An long-term, so when I left it didn’t really feel like much of a big deal.

But this time in Hoi An, I really made an effort to make new friends and meet new people. I went to the Hub coworking space multiple times a week and attended a ton of fun events.

So for our last month in Hoi An, it was really important for me to go to everything: pool parties, salsa dancing nights, a girl’s night, multiple goodbye parties (ours and other people’s), and more. It was really great to feel like I actually had people who would miss us when we left, and it made me really sad to leave!

Mango Room

Mango Room cocktails

Early Anniversary Staycation

Since my anniversary with Chris is actually during our wedding, we decided to do a little staycation in Hoi An at Anio Boutique Hotel. I experienced my very first pool swim-up bar and enjoyed a really nice hotel room. We also had dinner at Mango Room, one of my favorite restaurants in Hoi An! They have the best giant cocktails, and their food is amazing!

Dragon kitten

Baby Dragon is all grown up hanging out with me at the office

Heading Back to Australia

While leaving Hoi An was a little bittersweet, I was pretty excited to head back to Australia to stay with Chris’ family, sleep on a memory foam mattress, and get started on all the wedding planning. Going to a real Australian grocery store was almost overwhelming and I couldn’t get over how easy it is to get nice meat here!

It’s been great spending time with Chris’ family (especially his little nephew Elliot), and see my baby kitten Dragon who is now fully grown! It’s also been kind of fun to wear all the clothes I haven’t touched in about a year. Wearing pants and boots is so weird after months and months in the sun.

Discovery Call

Come talk to me about China!

Creating Free 30- Minute Calls With Me!

I’m always looking for new ways to tell people about my awesome online course, Teach Abroad Squad. So I decided that for the full month of September, I’d host free 30-minute calls with me to chat about the program and what I can do to help you rock your first year in China!

I had a great time creating the plan for these calls, and I’ve loved getting to chat with people who are struggling with making their China dreams a reality.

If you’re really interested in teaching abroad in China and want to know how I can help, just book a call with me by filling out this survey!

Book a Call With Me!

the freedom life

Poor little Rory and Lady


Not everything was perfect this month. Here are a few low moments from the month of August.

My Foster Kitten Rory Died

Giving my foster kittens Woody and Jesse back to Jack’s Cat Cafe was sad enough, but I was especially devastated to learn that one of my original foster kittens Rory had died that morning from FIP, an incurable disease. Another one of my kittens, Lady, also has the disease and probably won’t make it either.

Rory, Beanie, and Lady were my first group of foster kittens and I truly viewed them as my little babies. Hearing about Rory passing and seeing Lady sick completely broke my heart. I know I did the best I could, trying to give them a wonderful life as little kittens, but I still can’t help but feel horrible about them passing away so young.

Thankfully, Beanie has recently been adopted by a cute Vietnamese girl who already has another cat Beanie can play with. Woody and Jesse are also doing great at Jack’s and are waiting patiently to be adopted.

If you are in Hoi An, I would really appreciate it if you head to Jack’s Cat Cafe and give Woody and Jesse a big cuddle from me. They are really sweet kittens and I really hope someone adopts them.

Jesse jacks Cat cafe

Hanging with Jesse!

Wedding Dress Alterations Disaster

If you’ve been reading along for a while, you probably know that I purchased my wedding dress off the rack in Seattle last winter. With just over a month in Australia before the wedding, I figured the best way to alter my wedding dress would be to do it at one of the best tailors in Vietnam, Bebe.

I’d worked with Bebe before and they do pretty impeccable work. I really needed to hem the bottom of my wedding dress, without destroying the lace pattern on the bottom, and trusted that Bebe could do the job.

So I show up at Bebe, and the place is PACKED. I’m covered in sweat, struggling to get on my wedding dress in the crowded stall. Then a tailor comes in to zip it up and completely breaks the zipper. Not only that, but they proceeded to tell me that there was nothing they could do about hemming the dress and to “buy higher high heels” (I’m already wearing pretty high heels) and that she couldn’t take the dress in on the sides either.

So basically I drove all the way across town with my dress in a duffel bag on the back of my motorbike, only for them to break my dress and tell me that they couldn’t fix anything.

Not only that, but it was really hot and crowded and everyone kept staring at me because I was in a wedding dress. I honestly don’t know what came over me, but I just started crying in front of everyone at the shop. Awkward…

They eventually brought in another tailor who agreed to do the job. Long story short, they pretty much botched the whole bottom (I thought it looked okay until I took it to a tailor in Australia who freaked out), and now I have to get it completely re-altered in Newcastle, five hours away from where I’m staying.

Moral of the story: don’t try to get your wedding dress altered BY YOURSELF or at a place that doesn’t specialize in wedding dresses. I’ll tell you the full story later, but thankfully the wedding dress WILL be sorted on my wedding day…….

Hoi An beach

I’m missing the beaches of Hoi An!

Wedding Planning Stress

I thought I’d pretty much done everything I needed to do for my wedding, but then when I made a checklist of all the little things left over, I almost had a heart attack.

You think that when you book the photographer, venue, find a dress, etc. your work is done. NOPE. Collecting stuff for centerpieces, figuring out how to display signs, what are we doing for the guestbook and the wedding arch? It’s tempting to just throw money at problems, but even that is hard in Australia where Amazon sucks, eBay has limited reviews, and Etsy takes 2 months and $500 in shipping.

Wish me luck as I slowly drown in details.

Carry on Wedding Dress

My wedding dress on the airport bus

Funny August Travel Moment: Transporting My Wedding Dress

My wedding dress has officially been to more countries than most PEOPLE at this point. I bought it in Seattle, flew it to California, brought it on the tail end of a US road trip, flew with it to China, then brought it to Vietnam, and now it’s in Australia. I typically carry the dress around in a garment bag that I stuff in a little blue duffel so I can easily carry it on the plane (I’m NOT about to check it).

Carrying on my wedding dress has never been a problem… until my Jetstar flight from Danang to Saigon. Jetstar is super strict about carry on bags, and carry on weight limits, so when I showed up with a backpack and duffel, they told me I had to choose: the duffel with my wedding dress, or my backpack with all my electronics (camera, laptop, microphone, GoPro, etc.)

Obviously I’m not about to check EITHER of them, so we came to the agreement that I could carry on my wedding dress as long as I took it out of the duffel back and held it in my arms. They even put a nice little Jetstar sticker on the garment bag. Thanks for that.

So here I am wandering around the crowded domestic terminal in Danang with my wedding dress on my lap. I carted it on the bus we took to board the plane and was fine with Jetstar. Of course, the dress in my hands is much larger than it would’ve been if I’d crammed it into a bag, but who am I to judge?

So basically you CAN bring your dress and a backpack as a carry on when you fly Jetstar. Just don’t you dare put your dress in a bag.

Hoi An Old Town

Hoi An Riverside

What I Wrote in August

Here are the blog posts I wrote in the month of August!

Teach Abroad Squad: The Online Course and Community to Help You Teach in China

Curious about my online course, Teach Abroad Squad? This post breaks down what it is and how I can help you teach abroad in China! Whether you’re interested in taking the course, or just want to know a little more about my new business, I definitely suggest checking this one out!

My Hoi An Photoshoot: How to Take Awesome Photos in Hoi An

That’s right: I did a professional photoshoot in Hoi An’s old town! I’m super excited about how the photos turned out, and happy to share all my Hoi An photoshoot secrets with all of you so you can get your own great photos!

The Freedom Life: July 2019

Check out what I was doing last month! An inside look into my expat life in Vietnam this July!

Avoid These 10 Mistakes! Teaching Jobs in China For Foreigners – Teacake Travels

This month I also wrote a guest post for Alice of Teacake Travels, all about the 10 major mistakes that most teachers in China make their first year!

Best Instagram Shots

One of the awesome photos from my Hoi An photoshoot!


View this post on Instagram


Travel Product I Can’t Live Without

One thing I just can’t live without is a really good travel backpack with three compartments: one for small things, one for all my electronics, and a laptop sleeve at the back! Having a backpack like this makes security a breeze because it’s super easy to grab your laptop, camera, or anything else you need to take out.

While I got my backpack from Taobao in China, there are a few I really love on Amazon!

Basket Boat

Basket boat ride in Hoi An!

Best Reads of August

Here are my favorite blog posts from the month of August!

On Turning 35 and Letting Go of Fear – Adventurous Kate

I loved this post about the pressure put on women to have kids. The idea that I need to somehow stop traveling, get my life in order, apply for an Australian spousal visa, and pop out a baby in a few years is super stressful, so I love hearing from people who are a few years ahead of me on this!

12 Wonderful and Horrible Things that Happened Because I Started a Travel Blog – Heart My Backpack

I loved this super personal post by Sylvia about her life these last few years. From her crumbling relationship to her friendship with Rachel from Hippie in Heels who passed away a few months ago.

Visiting a Mongolian Ger: Understanding the Nomadic Culture of Mongolia – Borders of Adventure

Mongolia is super high on my list of countries I really want to visit! This post made me even more excited to go.

Woody Jack's Cat Cafe

Go visit Woody at Jack’s Cat Cafe!

What I’m Up to in September

This September is all about major wedding planning for my upcoming wedding on October 5th! I’ll be ordering all the things, creating DIY wedding signs, deciding on a menu and keeping track of all the little details. I’ve also got a trip to Bellingen and Coffs Harbour (the wedding location) as well as two trips to Newcastle planned.

It’s going to be super busy, but no one ever said planning an international wedding was easy!

Are you excited to learn more about what it’s like to plan a wedding abroad? Let me know! 

The Freedom Life: August 2019



About Richelle

Expat, traveler, and spicy food lover, I've spent the last few years living in China and traveling around Asia. In my spare time I enjoy salsa dancing, exploring night markets and stuffing my face with street food.

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