This Beijing Life: Month 23

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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!

This Beijing Life

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What I Was Up to in July!

So many things happened this month it’s been hard to keep up! From a weekend trip to Nanjing to cat sitting two fluffy kitties, to buying a new e-bike, it’s been a pretty good month. However, new major projects (and a second website!) have kept me a little too busy, which has led to me being a bit more stressed than usual.

Where I Went

I took a weekend trip down to Nanjing to visit Chris’ old stomping grounds. We met up with his old Nanjing crew, ate at his favorite restaurants and took a day trip to Purple Mountain where we got to see the Ming Tombs and Sun Yat Sen’s Mausoleum.

Highlights

Overall, July was a pretty great month. Here are the best parts of these last few weeks.

Ming Tomb Nanjing

Hanging out at the Ming Tombs in Nanjing!

1. A Trip to Nanjing

Visiting Chris’ old China home was a big highlight of July. it was so fun to be able to meet all of his old friends, people who’ve been pestering him to come down for MONTHS. I also had the opportunity to visit Purple Mountain, which Chris has never fully explored (despite living in Nanjing for a few years).

We were able to see the tomb of the first Ming Emperor and hike up to Sun Yat Sen’s Mausoleum. It’s been a while since I’ve had a good dose of China history, and walking around all day was a nice change from sitting in the office.

Finally, the two of us stayed in the Novotel just across the street from Chris’ old Xinjiekou apartment. Not only was it super central, it was also great to see his old neighborhood. Too bad his favorite chaomian street food lady is no longer there. I was looking forward to meeting her!

wild great wall

Come teach in China!

2. Launching My New Website!

Guess what?! I created a NEW WEBSITE.

That’s right, my new baby Chalkboards & Chopsticks is a website focused solely on teaching abroad in China. Here I’ll cover how to find a job, resources you might need, and what it’s like to live and work in China. I designed the entire site myself, and I have to say I’m very proud of how it looks!

Don’t worry, Adventures Around Asia isn’t going anywhere. I just want to separate my teach abroad content from the main focus of this site, which is traveling off the beaten path in Asia. I’ll still have a ton of China content on the site, but the goal is to migrate all of my teach abroad stuff to Chalkboards & Chopsticks.

While the new site doesn’t have a blog just yet (that will come later), I encourage all of you to have a look and share with your friends! I also have a BIG surprise in the works that will be available later this fall (hopefully). If you’re at all interested in teaching abroad in China, I definitely suggest signing up for my Free Teach Abroad Mini Course so you’ll be the first to know when my big surprise is finished!!

China e-bike

My beautiful blue bike!

3. I Bought an E-Bike!

After years of relying on the subway, taxis, didi dache, and my own two legs, I finally bought a beautiful little turquoise e-bike! I got a great deal buying used from a study abroad student who was desperate to sell it (at half price!), and I’ve been obsessed.

While I still take the subway to work most days, it’s great to have the bike option. I’ve also been using it instead of a taxi when I want to go over to my old stomping grounds in Gulou and Andingmen. It’s a big money saver and way more fun than sitting in the back of a taxi.

Beijing cat sitting

I leave for ONE SECOND and I’m replaced

4. I Have TWO Cats!!!

For the last two weeks, I’ve been cat-sitting two cats for a Russian girl here in Beijing. Their names are Bars and Marso, but Chris and I have been calling them Boris and Fluffy instead.

I absolutely love having cats in the house, and I’ve wanted a cat for YEARS, however, I felt guilty adopting one due to the amount I travel, especially knowing that I might be a bit nomadic for the next year or so. I’ve done some cat sitting in the past, but only for a week at a time.

But for now, the cats are ours with no definitive end-date. The girl we’re taking care of them for is having a rough situation with her housing and needs time to get it sorted. Hopefully, we can keep them all the way until mid-September when my parents come to visit!

Baijiu

Drinking flavored Chinese wine!

5. Fun Coworker Antics

With one of my Chinese coworkers leaving, it’s been a fun last few weeks partying with my coworkers for his THREE separate goodbye parties. First I had spicy crawfish with the office, where we ordered a giant tower of beer and held chugging competitions… ON A WEDNESDAY.

Over the weekend we had an evening of KTV, where I was able to bust out wonderful songs from Britney Spears, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, T-Swift, and, of course, Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball.

Finally, earlier this week we visited a restaurant famous for making its own flavored Chinese wine. We drank both orange and strawberry flavored liquor out of saucers and ate WAY too much Chinese snack food. Lamb kebabs, chicken wings, seaweed, peanuts, cold noodles, spicy cucumber, fried chicken skin, hot dogs on a stick and more. I’m still full.

Challenges

Not everything in July was perfect. Here were a few moments I didn’t love.

China coffee

1. A LOUD Summer Camp in the Office

Every year my office hosts a summer camp for incoming high schoolers at RDFZ, our main partner school. Some aspects of the camp are really fun, like the opening day where I help students come up with a team name (my group’s name was Stupid Ice Cream), and play games.

However, this group of summer camp kids was SO FREAKIN’ LOUD. In between classes and during their 1.5-hour lunch break, I couldn’t even hear myself think. I know it’s camp and everything, but it’s hosted in our office! Just imagine trying to edit an essay over the sounds of 50+ students literally screaming.

They also made our internet so slow, it was impossible to get anything done. I was two steps away from walking into a classroom and demanding everyone put their phone on airplane mode during class.

Orchid Beijing

I did have SOME time for fun

2. Finding Balance…

While starting a new website and working on my big project has been incredible and exciting, it’s also been super stressful. I want to focus and get everything done, but not at the expense of Adventures Around Asia. In the last month, I only wrote ONE blog post in addition to my monthly recap.

How am I supposed to balance writing blog posts with creating a new site, developing my HUGE secret project, and working at my full-time job?

Don’t even get me started on social media and emails!! I haven’t checked my Twitter notifications in weeks, and I only posted to Snapchat a few times in the last month. It just seems trivial when I have so many bigger things I’m working on. It’s too much for just one person, and I’ve really been letting it get to me.

Cat sitting

Meow.

3. … and Finding Focus

As someone who constantly wants to improve my site and business, I also keep getting distracted by things I should be doing. My traffic hasn’t really improved at all in the last year. Shouldn’t I be doing something about that? Oh, but first I need to redesign my homepage and improve my email optins. Should I be creating something for Cambodia? Wow, I’m totally doing Pinterest wrong. I need to revamp my whole Pinterest strategy!!

It can be so hard to focus on anything when your to-do list is 5 pages long!

It took me a month to realize this, but I really can’t do everything, and splitting my mind between 20 different tasks will only mean that NOTHING gets done. I’ve realized that my big project is where my focus should be, and all other improvements (including making a blog for my second site) need to wait until that’s finished.

I’m leaving my job in less than ONE MONTH (!!!) and I need to be able to support myself when I do. While I have money saved up, I want this project to be finished sooner rather than later so I can actually start making a business, rather than relying on the $500-$600 odd dollars I scrape together every month from this site.

fluffy cat

I’ll just stay inside thanks,

4. The Beijing Weather

Beijing’s weather in July is never good. It’s muggy, polluted, rainy, and super hot. Seriously, the best time to come to Beijing is fall and spring, when the weather is great and there’s no pollution. This July, not only was it super polluted, the air literally felt like soup.

Not to mention the fact that this July was much hotter than usual. I literally felt like I was going to melt every time I walked outside. Gross, gross, GROSS.

Don’t come here in July.

Chinese snack food

Eating WAY too much food with my coworkers

My Most Popular Post

My most popular (and only) post was Why Experiences Make the Best Gifts. It looks like a lot of you agree with me too!

In this post, I talk about my pact with my boyfriend Chris to gift experiences to one another. I also share some of the best experience gifts I’ve ever given and received, as well as some advice to plan and gift your own experience!

Best Instagram

My most popular photo of the month was actually my cover photo from the last monthly recap. What a coincidence! I absolutely love this photo, and I’m glad you all do too!

Now THIS is the Great Wall. Which sections have you been to? Let me know in a comment!

A post shared by Richelle (@adventuresaroundasia) on

My second popular photo comes from my hot air balloon ride in Napa when I was home in May for my friend’s wedding. Here I talk a bit about giving gifts as experiences, and my gift pact with Chris!

Song of the Month

This month I’ve been rocking out to Lights Down Low by Max. I also love their music video, which is actually super creative (and a little sad!).

Book of the Month

This month I finally started book three of the MaddAddam series: MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood. I’m super obsessed with this series, and I’ve basically devoured it over the last few months. If you like the Handmaid’s Tale you have to check it out!

Best Reads of July!

Here are my absolute favorite blog posts this July!

A Day in the Life in Kampala, Uganda -Ashley Abroad

Ever wonder what it’s like to live as an expat in Uganda? I’ve been loving Ashley’s posts about expat life in this unique corner of the world!

After 4 Years of Blogging, This is What I Know – Heart My Backpack

Having a blog around 4-5 years old is awkward. We weren’t the ones to carve out the travel blogging industry, but we also started before blogs were really a business (hence, all of my disorganized horrible diary posts from 2012).

Cape Town: The Most Unique City in the World – The Blog Abroad

My parents are OBSESSED with Cape Town, but living in China, I never quite looked into it. Well, this post from Gloria changed my mind!

Malaysian Eats: Everything I Ate in Penang – Slightly Astray

Oh my god. Can I eat all of this right now? Seriously, Chris’ brother is in Malaysia right now on a visa run and I wish I was there with him so I can stuff all of this in my face.

Taking a Break From the Thing You Love – This Battered Suitcase

I really identified with this post from Brenna, especially after this hectic month. I can’t remember the last time I took a vacation or went more than a day or two without working. I hope eventually I can get to the point financially and with my blog that I can actually just take a one-month digital detox.

Nanjing Ming Tombs

More from the Ming Tombs in Nanjing!

What’s Next for August 2017?!

August will be my LAST MONTH at my college counseling job before I take my website(s) full time!!! I’m both incredibly excited and ridiculously nervous.

In addition, Chris and I will also be leading Saturday brewery tours with Lost Plate. Come join us on a tuk tuk tour of Beijing’s best breweries!

I’m also getting my FIRST tattoo at an awesome shop in Beijing, so… which me luck!

One more month at my job before I work for myself!!! 

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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.

10 comments on “This Beijing Life: Month 23

  1. I’m so excited for your new site. It look great, Richelle. And the name is perfect. So amazing that you designed it yourself! I don’t know how you balance all of these projects. It really is amazing. I think having the free time to pursue all of these projects and truly focus on them is going to be great for you. I can’t believe you only have one month left. Yay! I just started book two of the MaddAddam series thanks to your recommendation last month. LOVE IT! And finally, I’m so glad I got to spend July out of Beijing. The weather sounds like it’s been horrendous! Hopefully it’s all blue skies when I get back in September ;)

    • Thanks so much Justine! Be sure to let me know when you’re back in Beijing. Hopefully you can get back before my parents come so we can hang out before I travel for 2 weeks! That’s so cool that you started reading the MaddAddam series. I’m OBSESSED and I keep finding new ways it creepily connects to every day life. The weather actually hasn’t been to bad now that it’s August. Blue skies every day! Let’s hope that continues in September…

  2. Haha you could delete eveything except that cat photos in this post and it’d be awesome.

    Good looking new site too! Something you’re an expert in which I like with all these weird niche sites these days that no one is an expert in!

    Also, Chris better drop the knee soon otherwise you’re gonna have a nightmare going back over all these ‘my boyfriend Chris’ phrases and rewriting :D

    • Hahaha you don’t want to know how many cat photos are on my phone right now… I’m really hoping the new site goes well once I have time to put all my old teach abroad content on there. It’s weird there aren’t more China teach abroad sites aside from companies and schools trying to recruit teachers. Hopefully, the new site will help! And Chris better not drop the knee TOO soon. We’ve been dating less than a year! hahaha

  3. Your new bike is SO CUTE!! I kind of want one for getting around my town here in Washington…even my MOM agreed it was a good idea, which totally threw me. Also, I love cat sitting and just got done with a week of it myself, and I have the SAME feelings about wanting one but thinking it’d be unfair to the cat, what with how much I still want to travel. Plus, our apartment is really small and I’d feel bad keeping it inside all the time :( Someday…

    • You should totally get one if it’s not too expensive! They’re really cheap here in China. I paid $160 USD for mine used, which was a steal. I know I can always sell it again when I leave for the same price (or more). I also feel pretty bad about how small my apartment is for two cats. Especially at night when we lock them in our (tiny) living room. I don’t know how I’m ever going to rationalize travel with wanting a pet. I’m already super attached to one of the cats and it’s only been 3 weeks!

  4. I totally understand that you’re busy, and this explains the not so many instagram updates. (That’s usually where I follow you). You’ve done a great job on your new website, and I can’t wait to hear about the super-secret big thing! :-D

    PS. Your scooter is adorable!!!

    • Yeah I need to get better about that! I’ve been trying to post one every evening and update my IG stories, but it’s been hard to manage all of that and my sanity. Hopefully I’ll get better starting in September. Thanks so much about the website, and I’m obsessed with the scooter. I drove it to work today!

      • Oh, I totally get why you have prioritised differently! I mean, your followers ain’t going anywhere. So don’t stress about it, and focus on the project that matters the most! ❤️

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