This Expat Life (Beijing + Bali): Month 35

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.

To be perfectly honest I was feeling a little frustrated last month. While living abroad can be awesome, life changing even, there are times when things get a bit challenging. And for me, expat life has thrown all sorts of challenges my way in the past few months.

It feels like the moment I get comfortable with the idea of staying in Beijing for the foreseeable future, I get news that perhaps I won’t be able to stay after all. And this has been happening over and over lately. It’s a vicious cycle. And it’s one I’m getting really sick of.

I don’t like to go into every detail of my personal and professional life on this blog. So yes, I’m being intentionally vague. But I still want to acknowledge the fact that living and working abroad isn’t always easy. Sometimes I get the feeling that people think my life is a day at the beach with a cocktail in hand. It’s not, I assure you. There are ups and there are downs. Sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it. That’s just the way it is… at least for me.

For now it looks like Aaron and I will be able to spend at least one more year in Beijing – if not more. But then again, nothing will surprise me at this point. Don’t be shocked if the next post you read from me is titled “I’m Moving to [Insert Asian Megacity Here].” I kid. I kid. I have no plans to move to another megacity in Asia. But in all honesty anything can happen. After all, I do have priors.

Despite the fact that I have been digging living and working in Beijing, life did get a little stressful last month. And perhaps that is why I was so excited to spend the summer in Bali.

During the first half of June I honestly could not wait to hop on a plane and land in Bali, the place that has become my home away from home (away from home). I know you can’t run away from your problems, but I had a feeling that Bali would be a welcome change.

And so far, it really has been.

It’s just so pretty.

Everything feels a little lighter when you’re chilling at the beach watching the sun sink into the ocean, floating in a pool feeling the sun on your body or riding on the back of a motorbike staring at absurdly green rice terraces.

There are some beautiful rice terraces all over Canggu.

While I do love Beijing, it just feels good to get out for a little bit.

I finally touched down in Bali in the middle of June. During the past two weeks I’ve stuffed my face with all of my favorite vegetarian Indonesian foods, watched the sunset at the beach (almost) every evening, and spotted some amazing new street art on the streets of Canggu.




I also spent my first week in Bali apartment hunting. After doing a bunch of research and arranging to see a few places in person Aaron and I actually landed our dream place. And we couldn’t be happier!

Long story short, we ended up connecting with a guy who was looking for someone to stay in his villa while he was away on business during the summer. The dates lined up perfectly with ours. Judging by the pictures the place looked amazing. But it turned out it was even prettier in person!

We basically get to live in the guest bedroom (with views of the rice terraces!). We have a small private pool and a beautiful open-air kitchen and living room. We’re within walking distance of some great cafes and restaurants and one of the best beaches in town is a 2-minute drive down the road. There are no roosters or construction (that’s very rare in Bali) and we have a cute kitty who wanders around our villa. We’re trying our best to befriend her. She’s shy, but we’ll get there!


As if all that weren’t good enough, we’re only paying $500 per month (or $17.50 per day) for two people. We’re stoked. The only drawback is that I’m being devoured by the mosquitoes in the open-air living space. I’ll be seeking out some natural repellent first thing tomorrow. But I’m sure I’ll be able to figure out how to keep them at bay (???).


Obviously I’m in Indonesia. But as I’ve said before I’m still working full time while I’m here. My weekdays are spent hunched over my laptop, but I do plan on traveling during the weekends. And I’m really hoping to take a legitimate vacation at the end of the summer. There are quite a few places in Bali that I’ve been meaning to get to… my list is getting ridiculously long! But first on our list is a trip up north to the super picturesque town of Amed.

We’re planning on spending a couple days there soon, so I’ll report back. And please, if any of you have suggestions on things to do in Bali please feel free to give them in the comments below!

Aaron and I also just booked a ticket to Penang, Malaysia. Since we’ll be in Bali for a little over two months we have to do a visa run.  I couldn’t exactly figure out where I wanted to go, but after reading this post by a fellow travel blogger I got inspired to revisit Penang. It’s hard to believe my last trip there was over three years ago. But I have super fond memories of eating all the vegetarian food and relishing my first ever solo trip there. Plus, we’re meeting up with one of our Beijing friends in Penang. So I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a good time. See you in a couple weeks Penang!


It’s Italy versus Indonesia this month. They’re both very beautiful countries so it makes sense that they were neck and neck for most popular photo.

Bintang + Beach = an excellent way to end a work day.

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How did your June shape up? Do you have any summer plans?

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.

4 thoughts on “This Expat Life (Beijing + Bali): Month 35

  1. My June has been fun – enjoyable day trips to NYC (including meeting up with a Japanese friend I hadn’t seen in several years and attending a free concert, in which I saw George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic perform). I also went to a summer retreat (north of NYC) with fellow former members of the JET Program and it was wonderful – it helps the weather was nice. And I got some beach time in.
    Rashaad recently posted…The Good, The Bad and The Clumsy

  2. I feel you on the ups and downs! It can be hard to know whether or not you’ll be investing in staying in one place or not for the future. At least you got a little escape in Bali – which I imagine is a change of literal fresh air 😀 Hopefully things smooth out next month for you guys. When are you leaving Bali?

    1. Yeah, it’s definitely frustrating. Especially when you have no idea when or if you’ll ever be settled! Bali has been a very welcome escape. Haha, maybe I’ll just figure out how to stay here forever! JK, it does look like we’ll be in Beijing for another year. We’ll be heading back in early September.

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