The Freedom Life: June 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.

Ever wonder what it's like to be a digital nomad and expat in Tanzania Africa? Let me fill you in! #digitalnomad #expat #africa #tanzania #travel

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What I Was Up To This Month

Well… This month was my very last month in Arusha Tanzania and to be honest, Chris and I were very ready to leave at the end of the month. The mold got out of control. Things were stressful, and we were really ready to just hop on a plane to Vietnam.

That said, we did have the opportunity to have a fun walking and canoe safari before we left, which was desperately needed.

Thankfully, we gave ourselves a full day in Bangkok to relax, swim in the pool, and stuff our faces with Thai food before we finally arrived in Vietnam. Man, I missed Asia!

Where I Went

  • Arusha, Tanzania
  • Arusha National Park
  • Bangkok, Thailand
Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park is beautiful!

Highlights

While this month wasn’t all perfect, there were definitely a few amazing experiences!

1. A Walking and Canoe Safari in Arusha National Park

Arusha National Park is beautiful! Sure, after going to the Serengeti, it’s mildly underwhelming, but Chris and I still had a fantastic time. We embarked on a walking safari, where we hiked to a waterfall, saw zebras, giraffes, warthogs, and buffalo, and learned about Mt. Meru and the natural environment.

Next, we headed out on a canoe safari with the stunning Mt. Meru in the background. We saw a few antelope and even a couple hippos from VERY far away. The canoeing itself was very relaxing in such a beautiful lake, and a good workout too!

Thai food

mmm Thai food!

2. A Quick Staycation in Bangkok

I loved the day and a half we had in Bangkok! Chris and I found a cheap airport hotel right next to BKK where we relaxed, swam in the pool, hit the gym (man, I missed a nice gym!), and stuffed our faces with pad thai, green curry, papaya salad, and fancy coffee!

Our hotel was also right above an electronics mall, which made it super easy to buy a few things we’ve been needing for a while: a new mouse, portable chargers, camera SD cards, a screen protector, and some passport photos for our Vietnam visas!

But seriously though, lounging by the pool was amazing.

Zuchini grilled cheese

Yum! Zucchini grilled cheese!

3. Cooking Some Awesome Healthy Meals

After Chris’ horrible gout (more on that later), we grabbed a few ingredients and attempted to make some of those keto recipes I’ve been spotting on Pinterest. This is much harder than it sounds in Tanzania.

That said, I did create a few amazing stovetop recipes. We made zucchini grilled cheese, cauliflower au gratin, and pancakes made with eggs and bananas. We also stopped eating ALL THE BEANS which apparently causes gout. Who knew?

Arusha National Park

Enjoying the waterfalls of Aursha National Park!

4. Getting Into Town… A Little Bit

Now that the rain has stopped, we’ve been able to get a bit of autonomy. Sure, the car didn’t work out, but we were able to hitch a ride into town on a few occasions and then pay for a (kind of expensive) taxi ride home. But it was WORTH IT to not be stuck in the house constantly.

We finally went to TGT, the country club/bar everyone raves about. It was… basically a fancy country club, but at least the food was good?

Arusha National Park

Two giraffes gettin’ it on!

Challenges

So… There’s not much more I can say here that I haven’t already talked about at length in my post: Why I Never Fell in Love with Expat Life in Tanzania.

These last three months have been rough. While there were some fun moments, we definitely had a countdown calendar where we crossed off the days until our move to Vietnam every evening…

So, if you don’t have time to read the full story, I’ll give you a very brief overview.

Black Mold Africa

See the black stuff? That’s our bedroom ceiling

1. OUT OF CONTROL Mold

The mold got worse and worse and worse. Yeah, we scrubbed the black mold in our bathroom but then all the different types of mold decided to take over our ENTIRE HOUSE. By the time we left, we had mold completely coating our giant wooden support beam, and then the entire ceiling of our house!

First, it started in the bedroom, but by the time we left, it was covering most of the living room ceiling as well. For some reason, it wouldn’t grow on the support beams in the ceiling, making it VERY EASY to tell how fast the mold was growing.

None of this would be a problem if it didn’t impact my health so much. I honestly don’t even remember what it feels like to be at 100%. I’m now in Vietnam sleeping away most of the day (hence, why this post is out so late), on antibiotics with tonsilitis because my immune system has been completely destroyed by all of the mold. At least the formication problem has gone away.

The Freedom Life

We spent A LOT of time on this couch/ our desk

2. Chris’ Horrible Gout

For a solid 2.5 weeks, Chris suffered from the worst gout he’s ever had. At first, we couldn’t figure out what was doing it. We barely ate red meat (Tanzania literally only has chicken) and we never drank beer. Then we learned that BEANS cause gout too. Well… that’s cool because we were only eating them EVERY DAY.

So for over two weeks, Chris could barely walk, leaving us confined to the house to work on our barely functioning 3G. I did all the cooking and the dishes and basically became a housewife.

Do you want to know how many dishes you go through when you cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner? No. You don’t.

The Freedom Life

We cooked ALL of our meals for 3 months

3. Feeling So Isolated

Again, we lived in a small house where we could only talk to each other. We rarely left the house, and when we did, it was to walk 15 minutes to an office. We almost never went to town. We didn’t have friends, and we pretty much never did anything fun. The end.

Arusha Tanzania expat

Wow, sitting on this patio looks so nice…

4. THOSE STUPID BEES

One of the best things about the rainy season ending was that we could leave all of our windows and door open to let fresh air inside our house… except… nope.

We soon developed a wasps nest right next to our house in the door of the little shed, so every time we tried to open the windows, a bunch of wasps would inevitably come inside, get confused, and then spend the next few HOURS buzzing around our heads trying to get out and failing miserably.

Hating the cold damp inside, I decided to try and enjoy our patio for the few hours a day where it was warm outside. Except NOPE because we have carpenter bees nesting in the roof. These bees are GIANT and VERY VERY LOUD. While the males can’t actually sting you, they’re super aggressive and kept DIVE BOMBING me constantly whenever I tried to go outside.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Aursha tanzania expat life

Mmmm wet dog pillows

5. The Damp Destroys Everything

Even with the end of rainy season, the damp and mold kept getting worse and worse. “What’s that wet dog smell?” Oh… it’s my pillow.

I could break hard medicine pills in half by just pulling them apart with my fingers. Our bread turned moldy within a few days. Everything smelled bad. My clothes reeked from the cupboard. I would put on a dress and it would feel wet. We would take a shower and the next day there would be black mold spots on our towels.

It was a nightmare.

Wow… That Was Intense

Yeah, well we’re in Vietnam now and that’s all that matters, right?

Black Mold Tanzania

Just some of our black mold

Monthly Finances

Here’s My Monthly Income Breakdown

  • Advertising – $0
  • Blogging Partnerships – $304
  • Freelancing – $1,500
  • Affiliate Sales – $368
  • Teaching Referrals – $300
  • Consulting – $0

Total Revenue – $2,472

Total Profit (Minus Blog Expenses) – $1,812

Wow! This month was by far my biggest blog income month yet! I won’t get too ahead of myself because most of this was a payment for three months of work for a safari company. However, I did make a solid $1,000 with my blog which isn’t too bad!

I did have one big expense this month, which was a $500 course I took on creating an epic Facebook group. That’s right, I’m in the process of creating a private amazing Facebook community for people who want to teach abroad in China! No spam, no crappy job listings, just people connecting, sharing tips and helping one another.

If you’re interested in joining my teach abroad community, just sign up here and you’ll be the first to receive a VIP invitation to join!

Total Savings – $10,251

Despite my huge income bump this month, my savings went down by a little bit. This is mainly because I had to pay three months rent upfront on moving to Vietnam(!!!) We also had to pay for some setup costs when we moved, like new bedding, kitchen supplies, food, etc. At least I don’t have to pay rent again until October!

canoe safari

Just paddling through Arusha National Park!

What I Wrote in June

My most popular post was probably a tie this month (honestly, it’s hard to decide what counts as popular. Pageviews? Social shares? Comments?), so I’m choosing two because I’m the boss!

The first one was Why I Never Fell in Love with Expat Life in Tanzania, where I covered all of the things that just didn’t quite work for me in Africa. However, I also talked about how a lot of these issues were centered around things Chris and I did wrong (aka choosing to live where we did), and how I could theoretically do things differently next time.

The second most popular post I wrote this month was 20 Foods You Need to Try in Beijing, which blew up a bit on Facebook. I guess people like food? It took me a solid 2 days to write this post, and the entire time I was hungry and miserable because I miss Chinese food so much!

Here are the other posts I wrote last month:

Best Instagram Shots

My most popular Instagram shot was from my safari in the Serengeti! We were lucky enough to see a fat lion lounging in a tree after eating a kill (which you could kind of see in the grass). Vultures were munching on the leftovers, when all of a sudden a giant African elephant stormed over, sending the vultures flying as he chased the lion out of the tree!

Just an elephant chasing a lion out of a tree… no big deal

A post shared by Richelle (@adventuresaroundasia) on

The second most popular Instagram was a quick phone photo I shot of our plane flying over Mt. Kilimanjaro as we left Tanzania! What a cool surprise, right?

Best Travel Product of June

Today I thought I’d fill you all in on my favorite bras for travel and working from home (sorry boys). I wear True & Co bras literally every day of my life now, and I’ve never been happier. They go under almost everything, have no underwire, but actually give you support even if you’re a DD like me. Hallelujah!

I have the True Body scoop neck in black and mink, and the True Weekend in pink! I love how comfy the true body is (seriously, I forget I’m wearing it), and the True Weekend straps look great with a lot of my summer dresses and shirts!

For a bustier girl who was sick and tired of having red marks on her shoulders and underwire digging into the top of her stomach, these bras are literally life-changing.

Word of advice: just be VERY CAREFUL when you order because you can’t cancel or re-route orders with True & Co. Do not accidentally ship your bras to the wrong address like I did! Their bras are amazing but their customer service policies are not. Thankfully, they do offer free returns, so if you don’t like it you can send it back!

Get $15 Off!

Arusha National Park

Wow Arusha National Park is pretty!

Best Reads of June

Here are my favorite blog posts this month!

It’s Official… I Moved Home to Canada! – This Battered Suitcase

Sometimes you just need to do what’s best for you. I love how Breanna talks about the pressure to keep traveling, and live in a “cool” city like London, even if all she really want’s to do is move home. There’s so much stigma in the travel industry about moving home, but sometimes it’s necessary!

A Rant About Travel, Awareness, and Social Media – Wandering Earl

As someone who feels pressured to post more pretty photos of myself on Instagram, this post was a breath of fresh air and a much-needed reminder that it’s not all about me. I want to shine a light on the places I visit: the food, the culture, and the people- not my outfit or how good I look in some tropical destination.

We Got Fat! Our Struggles With Blogger Bod and Keeping Fit On the Road – Goats On the Road

This is my life!! Sure, it’s nice to feel sexy and look good on the ‘gram, but seeing new stretch marks and feeling pudgy in the 100 F/ 40C heat? Not so nice.

Is Long-Term Travel Lonely? Let Me Ask My Own Sad Lonely A** Real Quick – Hey Berna

I definitely get how this feels. Living in Tanzania, Chirs and I had no friends. Living nomadically and not having a community can be so hard. Thankfully we have some built-in friends and family in Hoi An.

The Freedom Life

Our bedroom “door”

Best Podcasts of June

I’ve recently gotten really into Podcasts, and I can’t believe I wasn’t obsessed sooner! I listen at the gym, while I’m cooking, or even just in bed before I go to sleep. I figured I’ll share a few of my favorites with you each month to let you know what I’m listening to!

Operation Clear Out Your Inbox – Online Marketing Made Easy

This is an old episode (I just discovered Amy Porterfield’s podcast this month) but WOW was this helpful! I still haven’t completely nailed down my content calendar and task lists yet, but the email tips in this podcast are amazing. If you struggle with INSANE amounts of email like I do, listen to this.

Why You Should Create a Free Facebook Group for Your Business – The Rise to The Top

This podcast inspired me to create my new Facebook group! I’m actually really excited to form this new community and learn more about a good chunk of all the people who I’ve been emailing for the last few months/years!

Hoi An Expat

Two years ago I biked around the EXACT area I’m now living. Who would’ve thought?!

What’s Next For July 2018?

I moved to Hoi, An Vietnam!! Chris and I are renting a beautiful studio apartment in Tra Que Village Hoi An, surrounded by vegetable farms, shrimp pools, cooking schools and the occasional water buffalo. We’re right between Hoi An’s beautiful Old Town and An Bang beach!

I can’t wait to share my Vietnam adventures with all of you. I absolutely love Vietnam (especially Hoi An), and I’ll be sure to keep you all up to date and deliver some awesome Vietnam content. My Vietnamese lessons start on Monday!

Are you excited about my adventures in Vietnam? Do you want to hear more about Africa? Let me know in a comment below!

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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.

2 comments on “The Freedom Life: June 2018

  1. Thank you so much for sharing my post! I’m glad that you are back in Asia and starting to feel better. :)

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