On Tuesdays, Besudesu Abroad would like to feature another really awesome traveler in various forms. Some Tuesdays may be interviews, while other may feature guest posts, videos and more!
This week we would like to introduce Joella of This Beijing Life. Joella is a Brit, married to an American and living in Beijing. Always planning her next adventure, China is the 5th country she has worked in since 2006.
1. What inspires you to travel, and how would you define the word ‘traveler’?
It’s hard to put my finger on what exactly inspires me to do it, but travel makes me feel alive! I love experiencing new places and new cultures. There are so many beautiful places in the world and I love learning about different countries and ways of life. I’d say a traveler is someone who likes to learn about the world- they don’t have to be someone who is constantly on the move or living abroad.
2. For those who don’t yet know you, can you explain your travel style?
My husband and I are expat travellers. He’s American and I’m British so at least one of us is always living abroad. So far we’ve lived and worked together in South Korea, Venezuela, the UK and China. I also had my first work abroad experience in the USA before I met him. I’m a teacher- beginning as an ESL teacher and then later training to become a Primary School teacher. My husband works for a magazine. As expats we are able to travel a lot during the holidays and weekends. I’m lucky to get such a lot of vacation time in my job. Since moving to Beijing we’ve already been to Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, back to Korea several times and travelled all over China. If you’re a teacher and want to travel I’d definitely recommend working at an International school!
3. How do you afford your travels?
We’ve had a few times in our early 20’s where we have just travelled and not worked, but most of the time we have jobs and travel in vacation time. I happily spend quite a lot of my wages on travel! As I currently work at an international school it also means we get a lot of stuff like housing and other allowances paid for, so we don’t have to worry about paying rent while we travel in the vacations. Living abroad (and in such a huge city!) means there’s always something new to see or somewhere to go at the weekends so we’re constantly exploring.
4. Where was your first international trip and how old were you?
My very first overseas trip was to Spain at 7 years old. I was lucky enough to have some great family holidays abroad over the years. I definitely caught the travel bug at a young age- I kept travel diaries from the age of 9!
5. Where has been your favorite destination? Where has been your least favorite?
I always find it so hard to pick a favorite destination! I love so many places. Can I pick a top 3? If so I’d probably say- Patagonia in Argentina, Bagan in Myanmar/Burma and the Tibetan grassland areas of Western China. But there are so many other places I love too!! I can only think of one place I have visited and didn’t love- Songpan in Sichuan. It was such a let down after Xiahe (Labrang) and Langmusi. It felt like a fake Chinese town and not at all the ‘sleepy village’ The Lonely Planet described it as. Otherwise, I think I’ve loved every single destination in the world!
6. If you had to settle down in one location forever, where would you choose and why?
It’s hard because I absolutely love living abroad and there are so many more places I want to live. But ultimately we will probably settle (at least for a while) in Southern California, where my husband is from. I love England (where I’m from) but you can’t beat the weather, lifestyle and beaches in CA. Of course, for me it is still living abroad so I get the best of both worlds!
7. Have you ever had high hopes for a destination, tour, etc., only to be disappointed in the end? Or any travel mishaps?
I think Songpan (see above) was my only disappointment. I always try not to have high expectations for ultra famous tourist sights like the Terracotta Warriors- then I’m always pleasantly surprised. I think it is easy to be underwhelmed if you set your hopes too high for these kinds of famous places.
8. What’s the funniest or weirdest cultural idiosyncrasy you’ve either witnessed or experienced?
I can adapt and get used to most things, but I still think it’s weird when kids just pee in the street wherever they want in China. I also don’t get it when my Chinese colleagues say they are not allowed to shower or wash for one month after having a baby. They hate it but they do it (or don’t do it!) anyway. Then again, they think I’m crazy for still wearing sandals when it’s below 20C/68F (that would be quite warm back in the UK!) so we’re all idiosyncratic to someone I guess!
9. What keepsake do you have to get at all your destinations?
I usually just keep all the ticket stubs and take tons of photos. We also occasionally buy nice art pieces or statues/ornaments when we see things we really like. The advantage of being an expat, as opposed to being a completely nomadic traveller, is that you can bring things with you (but not too much or shipping gets too expensive!).
10. How about the one thing you cannot travel without?
A camera or at least an iphone. Other than that I don’t have ay other essentials. Oh actually lip balm I guess haha!
11. Why did you begin blogging? And how did you come up with your blog name?
I first had a blog in 2006 when I moved to South Korea- I really regret I didn’t just keep that one going forever now. I started it to let my friends and family back home know what adventures I was getting up to- I wasn’t on Facebook yet and Instagram didn’t even exist! Crazy! I started this current blog a while after we moved to Beijing for similar reasons. But also because I really enjoy being part of a blogging and travel community and getting to meet like minded travelers! I chose This Beijing Life for the name because it is about our lives in Beijing. I also love the radio show “This American Life” so that was kind of inspiration for the name too. I’ll have to change it if we leave Beijing though so I should have thought it through a bit better!
12. What’s next for 2014?
Well we’ll still be living in Beijing (no plans to move on just yet). We usually have a lot of trips planned for my vacation time but we haven’t been back to England or the USA since we moved to Beijing in August 2013. So we’ll take trips back there during the holidays this year instead of another big Asia trip. We might sneak in a few days somewhere tropical as well though. We’ll also be heading to Japan for a couple of weeks during Chinese New Year in early 2015. It’s somewhere we’ve both always wanted to go but never got round to. I’ll have to get all the tips from you Beth!
Backpack or suitcase? Backpack for “traveling” trips, suitcase for “vacations”.
Solo or group? Sometimes solo but preferably with one other person (AKA my husband!)- I don’t really like travelling in large groups
Tapas or sushi? Veggie sushi..!
Beach or mountains? This is a tough one- I’d probably go for the beach.