This Expat Life: Month 18

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.

So I’ve officially been an “expat” for a year and a half!  That’s kind of crazy to think about.  Not only did January mark a huge milestone in my life as an expat but it also happened to be a super-eventful whirlwind of a month.  Obviously, following my BIG announcement, it’s no surprise that a lot of changes took place last month…

I bade farewell to Phnom Penh

Mekong river Phnom Penh

I spent the first couple weeks of January trying my best to relish all of the chaos and craziness that made me fall in love with Phnom Penh in the first place.  I took more tuk tuk rides and thoroughly enjoyed them.  I ate at all of my favorite restaurants (expect another food post next week!) and probably gained a couple pounds in the process.  I took extra time to appreciate the beautiful temples and old buildings that dot the streets.  And I said my goodbyes to the very few friends I’d made in the city.

I packed up my surprisingly few possessions – my clothes and kitchenware – I scrubbed my apartment clean, and on January 18 I left Phnom Penh.

This Expat Life: Month 18 - Travel Lush

Oddly enough I’m finding it easier and easier to just up and leave places.  So far I haven’t really missed living in Phnom Penh.  Perhaps it’s just a side effect of this semi-nomadic life I’ve been living for the past year and a half, or maybe it’s just because Phnom Penh and I just didn’t click in the way I’d hoped we would.  Whatever it is, I’m not sad about it.  I’m actually at peace with the fact that I’ve moved on and excited about what’s to come.

I went home to California

Leucadia sign
My old stomping grounds!

After a 24-hour travel day I finally made it back to my home state of California.  Considering it’s only been six months since my last visit, it kind of feels like I was just here.  During the past couple weeks I’ve mainly been hanging out at my childhood home in San Diego.  Of course I’ve been taking full advantage of being back home.  I’ve eaten at most of my favorite taco shops in San Diego, I’ve made a conscious effort to appreciate the beautiful San Diego beaches (I miss living near the beach desperately), and I’ve spent some real quality time with my mom, dad and cat.

Leucadia beach

surfer Leucadia beach

Last weekend Aaron and I also took a quick trip up to one of my favorite little cities called Ojai to visit his side of the family.  We got to hang out with some of our best friends and spend tons of quality time with his parents and brothers.  Considering I probably won’t be stateside anytime soon, I’m trying to make the most of family time while I’m here.

I attempted to pack for Beijing

Ugh, I have no idea what I’m doing in this department.  I bought my first winter coat, though I’m totally unsure of whether or not it will keep me warm in the 20F weather that Beijing is experiencing right now.  I also ordered dozens upon dozens of anti-pollution masks (a sad necessity for life in Beijing).  Yep, that’s pretty much as far as I’ve gotten.  I’m going to be ridiculously unprepared for Beijing…

Blogging in January

I mentioned before that I was in kind of a rut in Phnom Penh.  And looking back I’m realizing just how much this rut impacted my blogging.  Blogging had been an obsession of mine since I first launched Travel Lush nearly two years ago.  But for some reason when I moved to Phnom Penh all of that passion and enthusiasm diminished.

Looking back over my posts the past few months I’m realizing what a bad blogger I’ve been.  When I started blogging I always aimed to write at least one post a week.  Clearly I haven’t stuck to that schedule.  Sorry guys!  The good news is that since leaving Phnom Penh I’ve felt rejuvenated.  I’m planning on, and looking forward to, being much more prolific from here on out.  I mean I am moving to China, and something tells me that I’m going to have a lot to say about it.  The pollution, the culture shock, the history, the art — there will be no shortage of crazy and amazing stories about my life and travels in China and East Asia.  And I am excited to write all about it!

Despite my not-so-stellar recent blogging habits this site is still slowly, but steadily, growing.  And I did see a pretty sizable spike in traffic last month from one of my older posts, 6 Kickass Places to Visit in Bali.  Thanks Pinterest!

Instagram in January

My most popular (and personal favorite) photo from January:

Beauty is in the details here in Phnom Penh.

A photo posted by Justine (@thetravellush) on

How did your January 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.

10 thoughts on “This Expat Life: Month 18

  1. How to pack for winter: Layers, girl. Lots of layers. That coat will help but not without vests (preferably thermal), tops, LOTS of thick sweaters and cardigans. (As well as long, thick scarves, gloves, arm warmers, and hats.) Don’t forget the thermal socks and winter boots too. And bring some tights too – Woolen/thick tights under jeans/trousers is a girl’s best friend during these brutal winter months. It sounds ridiculous but Korea gets stupidly cold during the winter here & most of the buildings don’t have proper heating. I’ve heard China’s winter is worse so take my advice, haha. (Literally giving this advice to you because in your previous post you mentioned not knowing how to pack for winter haha) Also, thick sweaters/hoodies that you don’t mind wearing to bed because, depending on how warm your house is, you’ll need to wrap up in the nights too.

    Also, on an unrelated note, yes, keep blogging, hun. I’m in a blogging funk and need lots of inspiration. 😉
    Ceri recently posted…Books Read in 2015

    1. Yay, I basically packed all of those things. Go me! And I’m coping with the cold shockingly well. I bought some rad winter boots and a great coat and I’ve really had no problem transitioning for the 95 degree Phnom Penh heat to the 20 degree Beijing cold! Well, my face feels like it’s freezing off…but other than that. Ha, I’m going to try to be better on the blogging front. Now that I’ve gotten out of my Phnom Penh funk I’m definitely feeling more inspired. Let’s both plan to write a blog post this week!!!

  2. I’m so excited to hear all about your time in Beijing! You will have a blast! Sounds like it will be a good growing experience for your blog and you! I love times in life like that! Your Instagram is great, I love that picture of the elephant and you have a great following *high-five*
    Good luck on your move! Happy Travels!
    Alyssa @ UnevenSidewalks recently posted…10 Must See Beaches in Costa Rica

    1. Ah, thanks Alyssa 🙂 After moving on from Phnom Penh I’ve felt so rejuvenated and I’m so excited to start blogging more and more. I think China will be fascinating for my blog as well. This is a pretty amazing place and so far I am loving it! And thanks for the Instagram love. That photo of the elephant is one of my faves too 🙂 And happy travels to you too!

    1. Right? I’ve only been here for three days and I already have a million ideas for posts. Beijing has definitely succeeded in getting my creative juices flowing 🙂

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