Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019: From Beijing to Tahiti

The cookie crumbled.

So, 2019, that was…fun.

I haven’t really talked about where I’ve been since China out of fear of jinxing myself. After moving from Paris to Beijing in February, I left China in May on a one-way ticket, fleeing a job that ended up being a total bust. It was a bait-and-switch sort of job. I entered Beijing thinking I’d be a travel editor. I ended up editing mostly political propaganda. As a journalist, I couldn’t look myself in the mirror.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Beijing: Week 11 and Farewell

All good things come to an end, like this cyclist's ride, which ended a moment after when he fell off his bike drunkenly...
My final week was, by all accounts, lovely. I had committed to leaving China and, as such, dedicated my final days to enjoying Beijing as much as possible.

On Monday I was supposed to work at an event but was told I wasn't needed at the last minute, so I took some time to visit the Lama Temple, which had been on my list for weeks. It was an incense-filled visit to, what I think, is the city's prettiest temple with all of its Tibetan influence and its 85-foot tall statue of Maitreya, successor to the Buddha. The Portuguese president was in town for the event I was meant to cover and joined me (well, not really) at the temple for a visit. Check and check.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Beijing: Week 10

One of my favorite images I took in Beijing...
By now it's no secret that I'm out of China, but I still had a few days to enjoy Beijing before I peaced out to the U.S. The entire cultural aspect of living in this city never got old, and I made sure to immerse myself in it as much as possible.

I did one last epic walk past the lakes and through the hutongs, taking advantage of another seriously sunny day. I oriented myself towards the bell and drum towers, some landmarks that were cute enough to explore before doing some shopping at the super touristy Nanluoguxiang hutong. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Beijing: Week 9

The Bund at night...
Well, week 10 was not so much about Beijing as it was about Shanghai. I took a long weekend to explore my neighbor to the south, taking the train about 5 hours through some unremarkable landscapes, ultimately arriving at what would become one of my new favorite places.

For the record, Shanghai is amazing. Let's just start there.

Perhaps Beijing, in all of its cold, dirty, capital city drear, has lowered the bar for me, and my expectations for Shanghai were unfairly low. After three days, however, I was seduced. Maybe it was the post-colonial charm, the excitement of the skyline views from the Bund, or the food, or the cycling, or, more likely, all of it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Beijing: Week 8

Teddy's not impressed with anything these days...but wow!
Spring is here, Beijing is warming up, and I am in the swing of things. I am getting good at not wasting time, moving through the work week with the goal of maximizing my days off, whenever they are. Week 8 was one of the better ones...

First, I spent a day treating myself to lunch at a Muslim restaurant with halal food made famous by the Uyghur people of China. If you don't know about them, go ahead and start Googling it and you'll understand more about why this is significant. Without getting into the politics of it, I can attest that the lamb was spicy and delicious, and Time Out Beijing did a good job of picking out this restaurant for me.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Beijing: Week 7

This bear, I tell ya, he gets around. Week 7, which feels like eons ago, took us to Olympic Park, site of the 2008 summer games. The Chinese were going bonkers over the blossoms on the trees, and I admit it was rather pretty. After a few photos, though, I felt the need to move on with my life.

We found the Bird's Nest, the iconic stadium, and Teddy posed like the ham he is. The park itself is underwhelming, apart from the blossoms, I guess, but it was fun to walk through and imagine all of the athletes and international stars who once walked the very same park. I have been in Olympic parks and stadiums before, but this one felt bigger, like Beijing was really trying to impress someone.

They've got the winter games in 2020, so I guess it worked.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Beijing: Week 6

These clowns...
Another week, another story. Last week I joined a group of professional tourists to go visit part of the Great Wall. Waste no time, right?

Mutianyu is one of the most famous parts, but it's not actually that touristy. Not yet at least. A large portion of visitors are international travelers. Michelle Obama and other First Ladies and dignitaries have visited it, but it's got less kitsch than a more well-traveled part like Badaling. OK, so they did take us into some sort of 3D history experience that I could have done without, but the wall itself was as expected. Stunning.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Beijing: Week 5

We had a day, Teddy and I.
I don't know what was better this week, visiting the Temple of Heaven or winning pub quiz. Given that one rewarded me with some UNESCO heritage architecture and the other rewarded me with a keg of beer, I think it's pretty clear.

The photos are highlighting a very blue theme in Beijing last week. Strolls back from the flea market and through the park at the Temple of Heaven were once again reminders that air pollution is not a constant problem here. Near-constant, but not constant.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Beijing: Week 4

Sun, food, hutongs, and my best friend...

It's been a month in China already. Time flies, sure, sure, but I've been keeping busy. Well, not at work, because that's a different story. In Beijing, however, I am making sure I don't waste any time trying out new things, and last week I did pretty well.

With beautiful weather and smog-free skies, I devoted Thursday and Friday, technically my weekend, to exploring. I booked a food tour through Airbnb Experiences with Danny, a longtime resident of Beijing who knew his stuff. He walked me through a typical Beijing street lined with eateries that I would never have gone into myself.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Beijing: Week 3

798 Art Zone, you had me at dinosaurs...

Weekends don't exist in Beijing. Not for me at least. So on Thursday and Friday I went exploring, organizing my own cultural excursions to be, you know, like, cultured.

First I went to the 798 Art Zone, an old factory area repurposed for art galleries and just the right amount of hipster nonsense. I basically just strolled it until I hit my steps for the day. I ate mediocre beef and noodles outside in a little alleyway cafe because the weather called for it.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Beijing: Week 2

The first grocery haul...
Well, after a food-filled first week, the second week landed me in the office, working regular 9-5 shifts. While the job isn't (ahem) exactly what I thought it would be, Beijing has been kind to me.

The internet has been rough lately because of big government meetings, so this post is a bit late. Week three is almost over! But for my own sanity and, I'll recap last week (my birthday week!) and my introduction into the world of my new job at CCTV.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Beijing: Week 1

My new life...

Well, I landed. Beijing, it's going to be a real treat. 

The flight was long, the leg room was limited, and the bags were heavy, but it has all been worth it. After one week in China, I have settled quickly, although with no guarantee whatsoever that I am doing anything right. But hey, the dumplings keep rolling my way, so no complaints yet.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Next Stop: China

Collecting the essential items before moving to a new country...
It's confirmed. After months of paperwork, translations, and WeChat conversations, I'm off to Beijing for a new chapter and a new job. Goodbye France, nǐ hǎo China.

So it's all pretty simple and straightforward. It's a change of pace from the past few years. I'll be working as a digital travel editor for Chinese media, in English of course, which suits me pretty well. I mean, I did write a book about travel journalism, so it's not too much of a stretch. 

But China, geeze, how did that happen? What a random adventure, right? After a friend planted the idea in my head back in 2017, it all just sort of happened. It was like she knew, some sort of mystical savant.