This Expat Life: Month 21 (Beijing)

After moving abroad I started compiling monthly roundup posts about life as an expat in Asia and all the nitty gritty that goes on behind the scenes here at Travel Lush. You can find all of my previous monthly roundup posts here.

Life in Beijing has taken on a routine. I’ve only been here for a little over two months, but somehow I’ve quickly settled in. It’s kind of strange how much Beijing feels like home. Living in China sounds incredibly exotic, but I can’t say my life is all that exciting. I’ve basically spent my time here working, a lot. I’ve been freelancing my ass off. I’ve been writing more than I’ve ever written. Sadly, the fact that I’m working so much means that I’ve been neglecting this blog far too much. I really need to find a better work-life-blog balance.

Working has been slightly draining but all in all it’s been good. One of the major reasons I had such a rough time living in Phnom Penh was because work was so slow. It might be a city of millions but the employment opportunities felt scarce. So I think the fact that I have been so busy in Beijing is one of the reasons I’ve adjusted to life in China so well.

When I’m not working I try my best to get out, though it’s challenging because I live so far away from the action. I am contemplating subletting an apartment downtown this summer (so if anyone has a hook up, please feel free to let me know!). I did manage to be a bit more active in April versus March, however.

This Expat Life: Month 21 (Beijing) - Travel Lush

I sampled some of the city’s trendy restaurants. I attended a screening for the Beijing International Film Festival and saw Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor in 3D! I’m kind of a film nerd (well, Aaron is, so that makes me one by association). For those who don’t know, The Last Emperor was filmed in Beijing in the 1980s. It was downright bizarre to see it in 3D. But it was really cool to see a historic representation of the city I’m now living in, which just so happened to be filmed in some of the amazing historic sites I’ve had the privilege of exploring since moving here. (If you’re traveling to China, I highly recommend watching this movie…just not in 3D.)

This Expat Life: Month 21 (Beijing) - Travel Lush

The real highlight of April was seeing all of the pretty cherry blossoms around the city. I wrote a whole post about my crazy experience viewing the flowers at one of Beijing’s many amazing parks. But to recap I’ve literally never seen so many people in one place in my life. So if you want to see some funny photos of crowds, people taking selfies and pretty trees check out that post.

This Expat Life: Month 21 (Beijing) - Travel Lush
Just to give you an idea.

Living in Beijing

There have been some frustrations. I mean I do live in China, so those are just bound to happen.

The internet: One of the most obnoxious things has been dealing with some major VPN woes last month. For those of you who don’t know, China is home to ‘The Great Firewall’, which means that sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all blocked here. It’s basically a blogger’s nightmare. So before I ever moved here I got a VPN, which makes it so I can actually access these sites. But for some reason, lately, I can’t for the life of me get onto my VPN. Which means that my social media and blogging life has been virtually non-existent.

My apartment: My once blissfully quiet apartment now seems like it’s turning into a construction zone. I was so happy when I moved in and found out we were on the top floor. After dealing with nightmarish neighbors in the past this was a welcome surprise. But now it seems like they’ve taken to doing construction on the roof above us. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been woken up by hammering and pounding on the roof.

This Expat Life: Month 21 (Beijing) - Travel Lush
My bedroom looks right into this construction site..

The building directly across from us is also under construction. Guys, I hate construction. Like, it makes my blood boil. So you can imagine how dejected I became when one day I woke up to see the entire building across the way surrounded by scaffolding (see above). They haven’t started working on it yet but when they do, it’s going to be loud. I don’t want to live through any more construction projects. Yet another reason why I need to move downtown this summer!

The air: The air quality was another annoyance last month. But the weird part is that I was less put off by the bad pollution days, of which we had more than a few. It was actually the catkins that made breathing outdoors a bit of a challenge. For weeks in April the sky was filled with these little cotton ball like things. They are actually plant seeds and they look kind of like the fuzz on dandelions. It might sound like I’m exaggerating but in some places in Beijing it literally looked like it was snowing. It was so odd.


I actually traveled to a new country. Wait, does Hong Kong count as another country? Well, they might not have stamped my passport at immigration but Hong Kong felt different enough from Beijing for me that it might just be country number 31 on my travel list. I was only there for a fleeting 36 hours but I fell a little bit in love with Hong Kong. I’m going to write about my trip more in depth soon. But I had a blast just getting lost in the city’s streets, taking tons of photos and eating amazing vegetarian food.

This Expat Life: Month 21 (Beijing) - Travel Lush

This Expat Life: Month 21 (Beijing) - Travel Lush

An added bonus was that Aaron’s high school buddy lives there and we were able to meet up and have a boozy night on the town, bar hopping in the trendy Soho neighborhood and snacking our way through the city. It was so much fun and I know I’ll be back there soon.  A day and half wasn’t nearly enough for Hong Kong…although my wallet was more than happy to get the hell out of there.

Also, I booked a ticket to Tokyo! I’m headed there next month and I am beyond excited. Seriously, Tokyo has been a dream, pretty much forever. If anyone has any travel tips please let me know in the comments. Because I need all the help I can get!


Due to my VPN issues, I wasn’t able to Instagram half as much as usual. But I still managed to post every so often. Here was my most popular post last month. It was my favorite photo I took in Hong Kong!

Pin me for later!

This Expat Life Month 21 - Beijing - Travel Lush

How did you April shape up?

About Justine

Justine Lopez is a California native who always seems to take the unconventional route in life. She also suffers from a serious case of wanderlust. In 2013, she set out on a yearlong round-the-world journey and never looked back. Since then she's lived the expat life in both Jakarta and Phnom Penh. She's now living and working as a freelance writer in Beijing. As she meanders her way through Asia she's always seeking out great vegetarian food, budget travel deals and amazing new travel destinations.

6 thoughts on “This Expat Life: Month 21 (Beijing)

  1. I just discovered an amazing free mobile VPN that you can use for right now on your phone. RabbitVPN -it’s SO GOOD. I can actually post stuff on Snapchat now! Also ExpressVPN has a free help chat (that’s the one you have right?) so they can probably fix the problem for you. I don’t think their site is blocked, but if it is you can use RabbitVPN on your mobile and get on their help chat that way.
    Richelle recently posted…This Beijing Life: Month 8

    1. I have Strong and it’s working again. But I need a backup so I’m going to get Rabbit now! Thanks for the tip. You really are the VPN expert!!

  2. There you are! 🙂 Happy to hear you’re settling into life in East Asia. The pace is just insane, but it’s one of the big reasons we love living in Korea. That, and all the never-ending opportunity, as you are discovering. The spring air is usually pretty rough here, because we get yellow dust storms from the Gobi Desert that pick up all the pollution from China and then sit on top of Korea, but this year has been very nice so far, with more clear air days than bad ones. HK is also one of my fave places, and I visit whenever I can! did you make it to Macao?
    Shelley recently posted…Admiration in Jordan’s Valley of the Moon

    1. I’m definitely settling in nicely, which still kind of shocks me! I had no idea the spring air was so bad in Korea. But I’m glad it’s been better this year. I’ve really been enjoying the spring here. The weather is pretty perfect. But I am really dreading the summer heat! We haven’t been to Macao yet. Aaron really wants to go but I know nothing about it. Is it worth a visit?

  3. Tokyo is amazing. We went there last year. It will blow your mind after Beijing. Everything is perfectly clean and orderly. We took a taxi one night instead of the subway (not sure why it was so expensive) and not only did the seat belts work but the driver wouldn’t start the car until we put them on! So different to Beijing. There are some great veggie restaurants there too. You have to go to the delicious vegan ramen place ( it’s called T’s TanTan) in Tokyo Station (random location but amazing food).

    Look under my Japan archives on the blog- I never got round to writing much about Japan but I did a post on the veg food there (some of it is in Kyoto and Hokkaido but I think there are 3 or 4 places I listed from Tokyo, including info on finding the vegan ramen place as Tokyo station is absolutely huge and it would be hard to find). Yanaka is a lovely, older neighbourhood to walk around. We followed a lovely walking tour map that was in our Lonely Planet Japan guide. And Omotesando is the “trendy” area these days and there are some great veggie places there that do veggie versions of healthy Japanese food. They are also hard to find though (the ones we went to anyway) as they were off little back streets so you need a map or google maps offline. Free wifi was sometimes hard to find there (strangely). Also- spring in Beijing is “construction season” haha! It doesn’t matter where you move you will have it. It sucks!
    Joella recently posted…Why You Should Travel To China

    1. Thank you so much for all of this info! I’ve always heard that Japan is really vegetarian unfriendly but it sounds like we’ll be eating pretty well! Yeah, we don’t know where we want to stay yet or what we’re going to do. I haven’t had any time to research! But I’m really really excited 🙂

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