China is weirdddd

This is true, China is weird. I love it, this post is just about how my six months in China have been filled with extremely surprising things.

  1. My walk from my home to the closest coffee shop is weird. I exit my door, pass by two old tour buses full of old men playing cards. These buses never move, they are there specifically for the card playing. I think walk through a parking lot and at some point the cars just start parking wherever they can. It doesn’t matter if its a spot. After that, I walk over a bridge, past a kindergarten that has never had kids there to my knowledge, and then a park. After that I see a brothel, a new paris themed BBQ restaurant, liquor store, chicken restaurant open until 2 am, and finally MAAN coffee. This is all within a 5-8 minute walk.
  2. I will see an incredibly fashionable man or women, completely decked out in the hottest clothes and also the the silliest off brands ever walking right next to each other no matter what neighborhood.
  3. I once saw a grandma try to make her granddaughter try and ride a bike with roller skates on. This is one of my favorite memories ever.
  4. You can meet someone once, get invited out with the and be on the craziest, wildest ride. I have friends who have gone out to a movie with new friends, ended drinking their weight in vodka for free, and fall asleep in bed with a pint glass of red wine in hand. Like, that movie Crazy Rich Asians… it rings true in Beijing just as it does in Singapore.
  5. In a store I have found spicy cheetos, chicken flavor cheetos, AND SEAWEED CHEETOS. Why! Why China, why!!
  6. You will see these men driving around these trucks of various items. I have seem various straw items, coconuts, watermelons, fruit, plants(small and large), and then my favorite, small pets such as turtles, hamsters and fish. These men just drive around and park in a high traffic area to sell.

 

How I Handle FoMo From My Favorite Season In America

So it is September, which means this time last year I was hanging my head out a drive thru window, handing out three to four hundred pumpkin spice lattes a day.

Now though, I am celebrating the 80 degree weather because at least it’s not 100 degrees. I love fall, and September marks the start of fall. Pumpkins, Halloween, bonfires, changing leaves. I am so excited to see what fall in Beijing looks like, there are five zillion parks here so it’s probably gorgeousssss.

What I am not excited for is missing the silly material things that come when the seasons change. So here is my ridiculous, indulgent, silly list of things I will miss this fall.

  1. Hobby lobby. Okay I don’t actually ever buy any of the things from hobby lobby. Instead I just get a PSL from starbucks, head down the road to the nearest one, and then look at all the stuff. If you have been to a hobby lobby you will know what I mean. It reminds me of being in school when all your crafts from art class were orange themed, or on the weekends your parents would get pumpkins to carve, take you to an apple orchard, make apple cider on the stove top! How I am dealing without it: I started pinteresting. A lot.
  2. Marshall’s/Home Goods. Unlike hobby lobby, where I wouldn’t ever really buy that stuff, I would buy ALL the home decor from Home Goods and Marshall’s. And the candles! The candles guys! I cannot tel you how amazing they are. My friend Ema and I would go and just smell them for 30 minutes. This is kind of embarrassing to write down but it’s true! How I am dealing without it: I’m not. Please, someone tell me where to buy fall scented candles in Beijing. HELP A GIRL OUT!
  3. Bath and body works: Along with the candles from Marshall’s, I LOVE the candles from bath and body works. The thing is, here the scents aren’t just candles. THEY ARE BODY WASHES. Like, my home can smell like rosemary and thyme, my hair can smell like a pumpkin marshmallow, and my skin can smell like leaves! Actually, my skin can smell like a million things because I can use a shower gel, a lotion, and a body mist. I’m obsessed! This is also a place where I do a lot of window shopping before setting on two or three scents and purchasing those during those crazy BUY THREE GET THREE FREE sales. You know the ones, don’t act innocent!
  4. Starbucks fall drinks: yes I know starbucks didn’t invent pumpkins or spices and I know the latte doesn’t taste like pumpkins: but guys, what I want is the ability to customize my perfect fall drink. I want a double tall soy kids temp psl, 1 pump pumpkin spice and 1 pump white mocha, white pumpkin spice topping steamed in the milk and I cannot get that anywhere! I know it’s ridiculous. How am I dealing without it: the cinnamon and nutmeg shakers at the condiment bar of other coffee shops. Give it all to me!
  5. Trader Joe’s pumpkin things. I used to walk to Trader Joe’s. They just had the best pumpkin things ever.
  6. No ABC family oops I mean freeform, 31 days of Halloween marathon. Instead I have to use Netflix and HBO, which is fine but it lacks community. What am I going to do when it’s Christmas and I can’t watch holiday movies on hallmark??

Let me say some thing I do like about the fall here in China!

  1. Seasonal vegetables: the vegetables here in China are amazing. I love them, the other day I made a dish with pumpkin, kale, and garlic. I know I am so excited for all the squash dishes, pumpkin dishes, and BRUSSELS SPROUTS. Like hell yes. These dishes are amazing, and the vegetables here are magic.
  2. The beautiful parks and lakes are changing colors. This happens everywhere, yes but we have to accept that in China the parks are prettier. There are beautiful lakes and pagodas, the symmetry of it all has inspired me the whole time I’ve lived here.
  3. THE PERFECT TEMP. It is the perfect temperature. Finally, no long do I live in 100 degree weather, now we have 70’s and 60’s with a cool wind. Soon it will fall even further and I will wear sweaters! I’m so excited. Also Chinese people, from my experience, don’t crank up the heat so high that you need to wear short sleeves under your coat for when you walk inside. Thankkkkk goodness.

So there we go, some pros and cons to my autumn love in China. It is not too early for this because I woke up this morning and it was 64 degrees ! That is a fall temperature! I am going to go a lil’ fall haul when I go to America and post that up here later! Are you guys missing anything while living abroad?

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Heading home for a bit

So I get the absolute pleasure of going home to New Jersey, Ohio, and Kentucky for three weeks. I leave on September 25th and return on the 15th of October.

I PROMISE I will spend most of the 13 hour flight writing. I have not had a ton of luck recently using WordPress in China. It’s just been so SLOW. What I should do is seek out better WiFi, but it’s very hard.

Some content you can expect from the long hours writing during the flight is a guide to long haul flights (duh), including my preferred Asian airlines, inflight essentials, and what I listen to or watch. I also am excited to write about Shanghai and Xian and to have my amazing friend Kiley write about a crazy solo trip she went on: preview, it involves a yoga mat, hot soup, and a 19 hour train ride.

Expat life is hard and weird. You meet people that you fall in love with because you have only ever see them in this weird Beijing lighting. I’m nervous and excited to one day visit these friends of mine out in the ‘wild’ one day. Mainly in Utah. There is just something about Utah that drives people to China I guess!

I am excited to return home for a bit though. I worry that I’m a different person and I haven’t realized that yet. Maddie, a friend I worked with in Beijing who left the city in May, talked to me a little about her return home. The transition period, where you don’t have a routine yet but everyone around you does. That’s different that moving to a country/job where some one arrived two weeks before you and 100% understand both your jet lag and your discomfort.

In America I wonder if I’ll find that when I just return to visit. I’ll have no routine. Just free time to relax and vacation and go to a million doctors. This free time excites me, but almost limits me. I won’t have a car. I won’t have a bike ready to rent right outside my doorstep. I won’t have street food, I won’t have the ability to constantly stumble upon an underground children’s talent show, complete with an art exhibit, free booze, and a ball pit.

What will I have though? Chipotle. 24 hour Kroger’s. Pumpkin spice lattes! All the friends I have know for years. A nail appointment where I’ll see an old high school friend. A new lil baby to meet (don’t worry Corynne, Eloise is number one, Chipotle is just funnier).

I know this visit is just three weeks, but it’s three weeks where I live in a weird limbo. I’m still excited.

 

 

Side note, Why do ⅓ of the flight attendants in China insist on telling me to take out my headphones when we land. That’s not a thing. It’s never been a thing. Anywhere. Answers anyone???

Beijing in the Summer: the Good and the Bad

I arrived in Beijing at the tail end of February. Actually, because of the 16 hour flight and changing time zones, I felt like there were 26 days that month. It was cold, the air was dry, all the lakes were half frozen and trees were just silhouettes. The city seemed pretty lively, but nothing like I thought CHINA would be. I mean you hear China, and you think tons of people. You see videos of packed subways, markets and tourist attractions. Beijing is actually the second most populated city in the world, only to Shanghai.

I didn’t see millions of people though. Even in the forbidden palace, I didn’t see more than a few hundred. It was wild. The subways were clear. Now that it’s summer there are definitely more people around here. Not enough to get my attention though.

So summer. It started around May, after we have three weeks of spring, and there are positives and negatives.

THE GOOD

  1. Everything is GREEN. I love it. There are huge trees, growing out of their cement holdings. The bushes are overflowing, the spring pollen has gone so I’m not constantly sneezing.
  2. Watermelons. Yes the coconut man from my apartment is gone, but he has been replaced by the watermelon man. This is a man with a giant truck full of watermelons. He comes around, sells some giant watermelons, and then goes on his merry way only to return tomorrow with more watermelons.
  3. Air conditioning. Unlike Europe, there is air con in China! or at least in most places in Beijing. China has a heating season and a non heating season. If it gets warm before heating season is over, doesn’t matter. They keep the heat on until it’s official. This year it wasn’t an issue, they actually extended heating season which is pretty rare. Most places you go will have air conditioning so you’ll be able to feel relived from the 100 degree weather, even most of the buses have air conditioning.
  4. The dry heat. For the beginning of summer, the heat here is a dry heat. Which I love. Stay tuned for the reverse of this.
  5. The buildings that you thought were abandon buildings, are just shops that open in the summer! Yay! Near our house there was a weird old shack and now it sells steamed buns and soup.

 

The Bad (or, like, the weird.).

  1. Air quality. The summer mugginess combined with 150+ air quality index makes you skin, face, hair, everything feel gross. Not to mention your lungs. Bleh.
  2. Tummies. I don’t quite understand this, but it seems like the men here don’t like to take their shirt off all the way. Instead, they just roll the shirt up to their chest and show off their tummy to cool down. Maybe we still need to free the man’s nipple here in China? In Beijing they do call them the ‘bejing belly’ and no, I haven’t joined in.
  3. Rain. Four months into my time in Beijing and it had only rained ONCE. Until we hit June and July. These are wettest months of the year and Beijing does not seem to have an amazing system for draining the rain. Recently the roads were flooded within minutes because of the amount of the rain and lack of of proper draining systems.
  4. Humidity. When it’s hot and humid… ugh. I have no other words. 100 degrees with 30% humidity, great. 100 degree heat with 80% humidity, horrid.
  5. There are are a lot more kids out, which isn’t so bad, but then the kids have holes in their pants.. and no diapers… because here they just think a kid should go and then let it fall out of their pant holes. I’m serious, I’ve seen parents hold their kids over a trash can so it can go to the bathroom out of the hole in it’s pants.
  6. People always seem to have a suitcase with them. Where are you going? Where are you coming from?? This isn’t bad, just weird and answerless.

If you live in China, I really want to hear more about your experiences here with the different seasons. I’m excited to experience the turn into winter and see what changes that brings. I still feel so incredibly grateful for this experience, learning a new language and a new culture makes me excited to continue exploring.

Tianjin

Tianjin is only 30-40 minutes by train from Beijing, but it felt like a different world. Once we figured out the train tickets were so cheap, it instantly became something on my list on places to go. We picked a long weekend, but unfortunately we planned a little too late because ALL THE HOSTELS WE WANTED WERE BOOKED. All of them. So my number one tip here is to tell you that you gotta BOOK EARLY.

If you are heading there check out Cloud Bay hostel or ZEAKO hostel. Cloud Bay has amazing reviews on booking.com, which is where I have booked all my hostels in Asia so far. We stayed at Hotel Nikko, incredibly convenient  because it was located right near the subway stop that goes to the train station we needed.

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Tianjin is small, we walked or biked everywhere. By the river you can find a few cafe’s and shops. There are also some massive malls, like three or four on each corner street. We enjoyed walking around the five great avenues area the most. You can stay on the main streets or tuck into the small alleys. I usually walk slowly just incase I am trespassing instead of traveling, but you can find the best places here. I found a cafe that served coffee from the Yunnan province, which even though I am in china, I hadn’t had coffee grown here yet!

So in the Five Great Avenues there are some really wonderful restaurants and cafe’s, and I am sure there are even more than I found. I had ramen both days I was there. Once at this Japanese lunch place where the women outside wore kimonos, and another time for dinner at ZEAKO’s, which showed the the movie Pulp Fiction on the wall. Some some slightly different stylings. Johnny and I felt like while we were walking around we found tons of places we would want to go again. I couldn’t look up these places, it’s like every place is a hole in the wall? How is that possible? I don’t know but it is.

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Even though I wanted to stay in a hostel, the hotel we stayed at had a BATHTUB, a GIANT SHOWER, ROBES, a TV that WORKED, and free breakfast. Which was the biggest treat ever. I love hotel breakfasts, I would take my laptop, a newspaper, my phone, a book, whatever I could to make it normal for e to sit there for as long as possible. It feels fancy and professional. So my kid like excitement over it completely negates that professionalism probably.

One thing that is on everyones Tianjin list is the library. Well let me tell you, it is hard to get to. Tianjin is a fun little city, and an HOUR outside it, there is a cool library. I would not recommend going for an hour driving or a three hour bus ride to it. It’s a library, most of the books are fake, and I think you have to pay to get in too.

March &;photo dump

This month was one of the most interesting in my life. It has been so fun having each day be different, but also slightly exhausting. I’m excited to finally understand the routine of life here so I can figure out how to have real energy. I think in April I’m going to try to do some sort of phone detox. I’ll let you know how that goes, but I will try to not let it effect my photos.

I turned 24 this month, which sometimes feels crazy old. At dinner with my boyfriend, I sat and thought about how I want to set goals and achieve them. So I’ll be posting a goal list here later in April.

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I was walking to the bank and saw these two girls. They just looked so casual and cool. Excuse me for being a lame seventeen magazine.
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I don’t know what this little nook is, but this gate is always closed.
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I went out to dinner with a group of new women I met. It was amazing. Also, I am starting to like spicy foods! Finally.
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Flat white cafe. Man, so beautiful. And one of my fav parts of town.
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The delicioussss breakfast at flat white cafe. I loved it. This place is going to find a home on my blog and my wallet.
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This pink store was just. Everything I could have wanted.
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This store had a lot of games like at an arcade or something. There was also a bar. Don’t worry, I’m going back to investigate.
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Neon lights, pink everywhere, the weirdest and most interesting things.
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They have edible arrangements in China!

Never Bored Cafe

Have you ever heard a song and within the first few seconds, you know it was going to be one of your favs? That’s how I felt when I saw the adorable store front of Never Bored. Bright, silly yellow doodles, a giant giraffe, and plants hanging all over the place. This store screamed JOYFUL to me, and so I dragged Johnny in. The owner was so kind and helped us order in Chinese, I got milk tea and he bought a latte, “Wǒ yào nǎichá hé ná tiě.”

So some quick and practical reason why I will be returning here even though it’s not close to where I live: the tables are high enough that I can cross my legs under them comfortably, the drinks are so good and, honestly, affordable. Going out to coffee can be as expensive as going out to dinner here, so if I am going to spend 60 yuan on two coffees it is going to be GOOD. (By the way 60 yuan is like ten dollars.) The atmosphere is so cute, too. It’s definitely a cafe for chatting and hanging out. Some cafes seem like a quick bite and then leave type of place, and some are places you can sit on a laptop and never look anyone in the eye. This is the perfect middle. I can sit and work, but also not feel weird for talking out loud. This cafe is pretty close to a hoppin street, which is fun for when you come to Beijing and want something hip. So go to Gulou street (a post about this will be coming soon), walk around and eat some street foods in the big crowds, then head over to Never Bored. I recommend the milk tea, it’s so good. The espresso there is also GREAT QUALITY. Third wave coffee seems like it is growing here, so hopefully we will find more and more cafes with great espresso. I know, here I am in one of the countries that know tea best, and I’m going to coffee shops. But guys, I can’t STOP! I love it. I have a list of other ones to go to, but Never Bored just fell into my lap. I had to write about it right away. If you have any recs, PLEASE let me know. I always love hearing from you!