After moving abroad in July 2014, 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.
I know. I know. This monthly roundup post is absurdly late. What can I say? I’m a busy girl, and I got really sidetracked this month.
But hey, I like these roundups because they kind of double as a journal of my life. And I know someday I’ll be happy to have a chronological account of the slightly unconventional expat existence that I’m currently living.
So here it goes.
The month of November was a relatively uneventful one… aside from the whole election thing. That was huge. Or Yuuuuuuge, as The Donald would say.
In Beijing, I work with a group of people that come from all corners of the world: America, New Zealand, England, China. All I can say is that the US Election Day was surreal for all of us, even the non-Americans. I stayed home the morning of the election (for all you US people, the returns occurred in the morning here in Beijing). But just as things were starting to get really stressful (you know, when Florida was about to go red) I had to tear myself away from the news and go to work.
I hate my commute, but this one was especially grueling because I spent an hour on the Beijing subway literally near tears as I anxiously attempted to refresh my various news apps. It was on that subway ride that I slowly started snapping out of the state of denial I’d been living in for months and realized this was really happening.
I’ll never forget that subway ride.
On my way into the office I texted my British co-worker:
“Should I pick up a giant bottle of booze on my way into the office? Because we’re going to need it :(”
To which he responded:
“Maybe something stronger is in order.”
That kind of sums up the mood here in Beijing, among the people I know anyway. But enough said. I’m not one to get too political on this here travel blog, but I’ve got to mention the election because whatever your thoughts are about it and whichever way you lean, it was a major event last month.
On a completely different note. I experienced my first snowfall in Beijing last month! Actually, that’s a total lie. It did flurry for two-minutes during my first big night out in Beijing in back in February. But this time around it was a couple of inches that actually stuck! I woke up to a winter wonderland slight dusting. It might not have been anything crazy, but I strapped on my puffy coat and boots, ran downstairs and crunched around in the snow because… there was snow!
If you think I sound like a total lunatic then you have to understand that I’m from California. And while we do have snow there (it’s a big state guys), and while I was a fairly avid snowboarder in my teens and 20s, I’ve never actually lived in a place where it snows. I was so enthusiastic about the first snow of the season that people in Beijing honestly thought I’d never seen snow before. I’ve seen snow guys. I just apparently get really excited about weather.
I had the chance to tick a whole new city off of my travel bucket list last month. I finally made it to Seoul, South Korea! It was actually for a fairly quick trip. I had all kinds of grand plans to visit the DMZ. But because my life was so hectic during the month of October with work and a last-minute trip to California I completely failed at planning or even researching anything about Seoul.
Regardless, I loved Seoul. I just so happened to be there during the fall when the leaves are all a kaleidoscope of blood red and golden yellow and burnt orange. I learned that there is, in fact, plenty of delicious local vegetarian food to be eaten in Korea. I even sampled some divine veggie tacos at Gusto Taco. They were so good I failed to take photo. That says a lot!
Aaron and I hiked to the top of Seoul Tower and glimpsed epic views of the city. We rented the most amazing apartment with panoramic views of the city. And we hung out in one of the city’s parks and listened to musicians play until the wee hours. We even happened upon a pretty insane protest. I mean there were thousands in the streets protesting the president. And I’ve never seen so many riot police in my life. They were literally lining every street downtown.
I feel like I say this all the time but I could totally see myself living in Seoul! I had no idea what to expect of the city, but it kind of blew me away.
Speaking of travel, I actually do have some exciting news. If you follow me on social media – or if you read the title of this post – then you might know this already, but I’m headed to Vietnam tomorrow! I’ll actually be spending the next six or so weeks there. Just like my summer in Bali, I’ll be working remotely while I’m in Vietnam. But regardless of the fact that I work a 9-5 I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to be able to do so in the beautiful beach town of Nha Trang.
Nha Trang is a city that Aaron and I spent about a month in during the beginning of our big backpacking trip in 2013. It’s a great place to set up shop and work from. And the fact that it’s set on a gorgeous beach doesn’t hurt things. We are actually renting a little studio apartment in the center of town. And the plan is to hunker down, work and do as much traveling as possible on weekends and during Chinese New Year (which is at the end of January).
I’m actually enjoying the cold weather that’s currently happening in Beijing, so being back in hot and humid Southeast Asia is going to be odd. But I am definitely looking forward to enjoying the fresh air. Seriously, given the fact that Beijing is in the midst of a ‘red alert’ for air pollution I’m excited to be able to breathe freely, sans mask, in Vietnam.
I already know that my first order of business will be visiting my favorite street vendor in the world, a lovely vegetarian Buddhist woman who sells vegetarian banh mi (with homemade mock meat!). I was a very dedicated customer of hers during my last stint in the city, and I’ve daydreamed of those sandwiches so many times during the past two years.
I am slightly concerned for the epic amounts of rain and bad floods and landslides that have occurred in Central Vietnam, and Nha Trang specifically, in the past couple months. But I suppose I’ll just have to assess the situation once I get there.
You guys apparently like Seoul as much as me because my most popular Instagram posts of the month were shot in the magical city of Seoul.
A photo posted by Justine (@thetravellush) on
How did your November (or should I say December) shape up?