The Freedom Life: July 2018

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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 really like to live as a digital nomad and short term expat in Vietnam! Here's what I've been up to this month in Hoi An! #hoian #vietnam #expat #digitalnomad #travelblog

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What I Was Up to This Month

This month I officially moved to Hoi An, Vietnam! I’m now living in a little studio apartment in Tra Que Villiage in between Old Town and An Bang Beach! I have shrimp ponds in front of me, water buffalos out back, and life is good!

After a month in Hoi An, I’m finally starting to feel settled. I have a routine, I know my local spots, I joined a gym and I’ve been working hard!

Hoi An house

The entryway to our cute Hoi An house!

Where I Went in July

  • Hoi An, Vietnam
  • Danang, Vietnam

Highlights

Overall this month was a VERY POSITIVE CHANGE from the last three months in Tanzania. Thank god.

1. Moving to Hoi An, Vietnam!

Overall, I am LOVING my new home. While it isn’t as central as I would’ve liked, living out in nature off the main road is actually really nice, and I can get anywhere I want to go in about 5-20 minutes on my motorbike!

I’m much more comfortable in the new studio apartment, which has super fast internet and no crazy bug guests (except the tiny ants). I have access to all the fresh fruits and veggies I could ever want. I can get delivery straight to my door, and there are tons of restaurants within biking distance.

I’m also super close to the beach, which I really need to take more advantage of! I’ve only had ONE beach day in the last month. Granted, it did pour down for a solid two weeks right after we got here.

Oh, and our bed is big enough for two people. Our pillows don’t smell like wet dogs. Our bathroom door closes. We don’t lose electricity and actually have functioning wifi in our house. We have a washing machine and a tv, and I recently bought a blender and a small oven. I even have my own desk!!! I feel like a queen.

MIX restaurant Hoi An

Chris and little Elliot

2. Having Friends and a Community

Chris’ brother Dom, his partner Bronte and their son Elliot all live in Hoi An too! They have an incredible house with a really nice pool, which we’ve definitely taken advantage of at least 8 times in the last month. It’s been so great to actually have someone to meet up with for lunch, dinner and weekly pool parties.

It’s also been nice to have a girl to talk to every once and a while. My fiance is great, but if I start talking to him about the Curly Girl Method and my hair porosity one more time, I think he’s going to run away.

Superfit Hoi An

Having a healthy sandwich and juice before the gym!

3. Getting into a Healthy Schedule

I’ve been saying for a while now that I really want to get in shape and shed a few pounds, and I’ve really been working hard on that these last few weeks!

Not only am I eating super healthy, I also joined a gym and I do a 75-minute yoga class once a week! I’ve been pretty good about factoring gym time into my schedule, and making sure I never miss those yoga classes!

I’ve also found an online nutritionist which has been amazing. It’s so hard to know WHAT exactly I should be eating (especially with all those low-carb keto diets floating around). I can’t find a lot of the healthy foods that most people recommend for recipes, and of course, I want to also enjoy all of the wonderful Vietnamese food around me. Having someone to help me with portion control and food choice has been amazing.

If you’re at all interested in getting some online nutrition help, definitely check out OnPoint. I love their quick 30-minute check-in meetings via Skype and the app which helps me track what I’m eating. I’ll be sure to fill you all in on my progress (once I’ve made some) with an entire blog post!

Cao lau

Cao lau! Hoi An specialty

4. The Food!!

I’m loving all of the food access I have in Vietnam! There are tons of incredible local cheap Vietnamese restaurants, along with fancier cooking schools that create amazing fresh meals. I also have great access to tasty international food too! Thai, sushi, burgers (which I’m eating very sparingly), freshly baked brown bread, tasty salads, and freshly caught fish!

I also love that I can get food delivered (I really miss this after living in China) if I really don’t feel like cooking. I I even have two fresh food delivery women for my grocery shopping! One does fruits and veggies, and the other does meat and seafood! Seriously, the meat lady finds the BEST steak and salmon I’ve ever cooked for myself.

An bang beach

Hello An Bang beach!

5. Pool Parties, Beach Days, and Relaxation

I love getting out of the house here to explore! I’ve danced bachata on the beach, done extremely sweaty yoga on a bamboo platform overlooking the river at sunset, floated in the bathtub-temperature sea, and relaxed in the pool to end a long day.

It’s just so nice to enjoy being outside, and really explore the place where I live! I’ve hit up the local Hub co-working space twice, which is like a little tropical paradise. I’ve enjoyed happy hour while lounging at a beachside bar. Now all I have to do is get myself a cheap massage!

I’ve been in Vietnam for just a few days aaaaand now I have tonsillitis. To be honest, I’ve been sick more than I’ve been better in the last few months and I’m just so sick of it!! (Haha get it?) But seriously, I almost don’t remember what it’s like to function in the 80-100% range. The black mold from my old apartment has completely destroyed my immune system, plus the change in temperature and multiple days of flights hasn’t done me any favors. I can barely talk, I’m so behind on work, I can’t sleep through the night on my horrible rock hard pillows (seriously Hoi An? Why are your pillows so terrible?) and I have a headache that encompasses my entire brain. At least my formication problem (that psychological symptom where you feel like bugs are crawling all over you) went away a few days after I left Tanzania… I keep putting so much pressure on myself to go out and explore, work on my blog, lose weight, etc. etc. and I’m so tired of putting things off until I feel better. I need to be better NOW. I’ve got things to do!! But at least for the next few days I’m going to focus on getting better, healing my body and fixing my immune system. Anyone know a good black mold detox?

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You guys are all so nice!

Challenges

Not everything this month was perfect. Here are my struggles from the last month.

1. Getting Really Sick!

That black mold in our old apartment completely destroyed my immune system. Right after moving to Hoi An I came down with tonsillitis and could barely get out of bed. I had to take antibiotics because my body just couldn’t fight it off.

Two weeks later I got a weird stomach bug that’s been going around. Basically, your stomach just randomly HURTS with no warning and you have to stop what you’re doing and curl into a tiny ball.

But thanks to all of your suggestions on Facebook and Instagram, I’ve been drinking lots of turmeric golden milk, and taking a ton of activated charcoal to try and heal my immune system. Wow I sound like such a hippie!

The freedom life

I spend far too much time in my (awesome) apartment

2. Trying to Balance All the Things!

It’s been a bit hard to balance all of the things I want to do, and I think I’ve been a bit too hard on myself. Right now I’m trying to manage my blog, social media and constant emails with a massive digital product I’ve been creating, while also trying to completely overhaul my diet and work out consistently.

I’m also trying to start a completely new hair care method to manage my frizzy curls, explore Vietnam, try multiple cooking classes in my area AND take Vietnamese lessons.

WTF. It’s WAY TOO MUCH STUFF and I’ve been getting really stressed out because of it. We’ve postponed the cooking class, quit Vietnamese lessons, and I’m already feeling a bit better. But if there’s one thing I just CAN NOT keep up with, it’s the emails!!! Anyone have a good virtual assistant, because I’m going nuts.

3. Stupid Vietnamese Customs Fees

I was in dire need of activated charcoal, along with new hair care products for the curly girl method, so Chris and I ordered a bunch of stuff on iHerb, which delivers internationally to Vietnam. We spend $100 to make the $13 shipping worth it.

However, when the box arrived it was held up in customs for about a week. Firstly, customs refused to believe that all of our products only totaled $100, so we had to send them our receipt and links to all the products. Then, when the products finally arrived, we had to pay FIFTY DOLLARS in customs fees. That’s 50%!!!

I scanned through all the expat Facebook groups and this is definitely a thing, and it disproportionately affects foreigners. Vietnamese customs wants their cut, and they know if they take it from international visitors they can get away with it.

4. Why is It So Hard to Find Stuff Here?

Hoi An is a bit weird. Since its a tourist city, there are literally no grocery stores or large shops. If you want ANYTHING you have to go to Danang, which is about 30 minutes away by car.

Want pillows that aren’t rocks? Danang. An oven or blender? Danang. Any specialty cooking ingredient? Danang. Toy shop? Danang.

Seriously, sometimes I really miss living in China where I could order literally anything I wanted on Taobao or JD.

Even when I just want to find something simple, like a local food, or a foreign grocery shop, or a place to buy some moisturizer, I have to post in the Hoi An expat group and ask for an answer. No googling your answers here! Everything you want is either in another city, or down some random side alley with limited selection.

Vietnam water buffalo

I took this photo from my laundry room. Meet Frederick!

5. Ants EVERYWHERE

No matter what we do, there are teeny tiny red ants all over our kitchen and laundry room. They somehow sneak in through the cracks in the walls (we’ve sprayed about 5 holes now), and get into everything! They’re constantly all over the kitchen counter no matter how much I clean.

The worst part is that they BITE you. God forbid you step on them while you’re cooking. Ouch.

chicken rice Hoi An

CHICKEN RICE – this is amazing

Monthly Finances

Here’s My Monthly Income Breakdown

  • Advertising – $0
  • Blogging Partnerships – $0
  • Freelancing – $500
  • Affiliate Sales – $121.96
  • Teaching Referrals – $300
  • Consulting – $0

Total Revenue – $921.96

Total Profit (Minus Blog Expenses) – $744.66

Thank god for freelancing, otherwise, this month wouldn’t be too great on the income front. To be honest, I spent most of this month working on the new digital product I’m creating, but I’m sad my affiliate income isn’t a bit higher this month.

rolled ice cream hoi an

Rolled ice cream at the night market

What I Wrote in July

Here are all the blog posts I wrote in July!

Best Instagram Shots

This month I’ve been sharing some more awesome Asia photos from all of you! If you want your Asia travel photo featured, be sure to #adventuresaroundasia!

Man I miss Japan! Osaka castle is gorgeous.

The Cagsawa ruins are officially on my bucket list!

Travel Product I Can’t Live Without

This month I’d love to feature two packing items I just CAN’T live without my Eagle Creek packing cubes and Origami Unicorn organizer.

I love how packing cubes organize my clothes perfectly, so I can always find what I need on the go. These are especially helpful if you have a backpack, so your clothes don’t become one huge jumbled mess at the bottom of your bag. It also protects your clothes from your shoes, or any product leaks!

As for the Origami Unicorn Organizer, it’s meant for socks and underwear, but I actually use it for toiletries and accessories! It’s perfect for holding my hair ties, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, face wash and wipes, hair products, moisturizer and more! The best part is that you can hang it up in the bathroom and easily access everything you need. If a toiletry bag isn’t enough for you, you NEED this in your life.

Not your style? There are plenty of other awesome toiletry bag options on Amazon.

An bang beach

An Bang beach at sunset!

Best Reads of July

Here are my favorite blog posts of the month!

My Travels to Dakhla, Western Sahara: Straight Into the Unkown – Wandering Earl

I love me a good piece of travel writing! Dakhla might not be a place I’m dying to visit, but there’s something to be said for really getting off the beaten path and exploring a place no tourists visit.

Being an Expat in India Compared to Mexico – Hippie in Heels

I love learning about expat life in other countries! Rachel just moved from Goa to Merida, Mexico and I love hearing about all the similarities and differences!

Quirky Themed Cafes in Taipei Taiwan You Won’t Find Anywhere Else – Journalist On the Run

I LOVE Taiwan and themed cafes, so this post is heaven for me. Get me back to Taiwan so I can test them all out!

fostering cat Vietnam

Meet Moguay!

What’s Next for August 2018?

This August I’ll have another full month living and working in Hoi An! I’m hoping to spend a bit more time exploring the area, hitting the beach, and trying new restaurants. I also plan on sticking to my routine when it comes to the gym, yoga, and the local coworking space!

Spoiler Alet: I’m also FOSTERING A KITTEN!! For the next two months, I’ll be taking care of Moguay, a 3-month old stray kitten who was hit by a motorbike. While her back leg is completely broken (she has no feeling past the knee) and she’s a bit malnourished, she’s doing great and on the mend. Let’s just hope she stops having diarrhea soon so I can stop washing it off her gimp leg 2-3 times a day…

Do you have any questions about expat life in Vietnam? Anything specific you’d like to see on the blog? Let me know in a comment below!!

 

Want to know what it's really like to live as a digital nomad and short-term expat in Vietnam! Here's what I've been up to this month in Hoi An! #hoian #vietnam #expat #digitalnomad #travelblog

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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.

12 comments on “The Freedom Life: July 2018

  1. I know you were kind of joking but if you do hire an online assistant I’d love to apply! I love your blog and it’s been really helpful with planning my upcoming trip to China!

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