Milo’s Resilience – The Wutong Mountain Epic Climb

Over the weekend, a couple of people from ZURU and I got together to climb Wutong Mountain. Not the tallest mountain with its peak set at 943.7m and 700m climb overall. Normally the climb takes about 3 to 4 hours and coming down should take about 2h (what the internet said…). So I was like “Hey, let’s bring Milo! He’s going to love it!” Milo’s first mountain! My dog, Milo. I think I was more excited about this than him. Then again, he didn’t know what to expect. Couple of details about Milo. He has the attention span of a squirrel, he can’t stop sniffing every corner there is and he’s afraid of heights. Cool? Cool!

outdoor, mountain, dog adventure, hiking wutong, life story, lifestyle, travel blogger, travel vlogger, vlog,

So we jumped in a car, and as you might expect, Milo is the car sick type of dog. Too long of a trip and he pukes. Lovely isn’t it? But this little champ managed to hold it in while the driver was bringing to our destination like a boat in the middle of a storm. Rocking the hell out of that one to get through traffic. I know someone that would have probably been sick. And finally, arrived at our destination, we are confronted with a very clear and big “NO DOG” sign. It was not in English, but clearly had a dog bared in big… 40min of taxi to get this in our face… Time to turn back? Nahhh!

Two old ladies casually walked in with their dogs as if the sign never existed in the first place. So I walked towards the gate with my brave Milo, smiled at the security guy and kept on going. Now that we were in, Milo obviously had to… relieve himself 5 meters away from the entrance, while security was still watching. Yes, it was a number two… This little guy. But we were still fine and we started the climb.

outdoor, mountain, dog adventure, hiking wutong, life story, lifestyle, travel blogger, travel vlogger, vlog,

The beginning was easy going and I was very happy to see Milo sniffing every corner of this new territory. You have to understand that parks in Shenzhen OR Beijing that are welcoming to dogs are rare. Which is sad and terrible for them. But that comes from the fact that most people do not pick up after their dog. China… But I do. Anyway.

As we progress through the numerous stairs and seeing the level of difficulty getting harder, I start wondering about how smart this was in the first place. A mean a couple of us have a hard time as it is. And then we reach a section that honestly felt like too much. If I was Milo, I would have turned tail and run. But this little guy kept going, climbing each gigantic step, jumping some parts, scratching the rock with his back paws to push upwards.

I was there, making sure he was fine. Sometimes I was right behind him, let him do his thing. He doesn’t like getting picked up. Really hates it. So he seemed to prefer by far to keep climbing, with barely any help of mine. Sometimes a small push up from me. I could hear his breath, see at some occasions his back legs trembling from the fatigue and his tail between his legs from the fear of height. You Monster! Some of you might be thinking. Calm down now.

We had a lot of stops, he drank a lot of water, got more treats than one can imagine and I never had to push or really pull on him. He kept on going. It was admirable to see and I never thought I would be this impressed by such a little guy.      

So Milo kept on climbing, clawing his way up sometimes as well. Until he finally reached the top of the mountain with a view on both Hong Kong and Shenzhen. An impressive view. And he took it ALL IN. He took at all in, lost in thoughts. And when he felt the place was just right, he marked the top of the mountain like his. You deserve it buddy. It’s your mountain now.

Dragos Out!

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Crucial Mistakes to Avoid as a Start-Up

I haven’t written anything since Vietnam. Although consistency is key when we talk about content, this is not that sort of blog. It might become one based on how things move along, but for now, it’s still just me chilling with some words floating on THE INTERNET. (“Jen, this is the internet” anyone? Maybe to geeky…I don’t are! If you haven’t watched The IT Crowd, your missing on life!).  So quick recap of my last article “How to Take a Leap of Faith”. It was all about launching myself into another crazy business idea. Remember? No?! Well go and read it already. Which brings me to the very long and quiet period between that one (pre-Vietnam) and this one.

Selfy, Messy, Vietnam, On the Road, Deep lookStarting a business is never easy. The biggest issue is self-doubt. I got the chance to work with some start ups and meeting others that faced their own demons in it. I can’t talk for everyone one here, only for myself. Although I had my share of stress the first time I tried to launch a business, even the second time. I thought by now, I’m all good. Aren’t you like a superman by now? Wish I was. Even Superman must face fear and doubt at some point. As such, I’m not immune to these.

Since Vietnam, I had a period of transition from teaching to my business. I couldn’t just disappear out of the cute lives that I had thought to for the last 10 months. They kind of become like your own kids and if anything were to happen to any of them, my life would be shattered. Not too long ago, a teacher in the US stepped in front of a shooter and took the bullets to protect the kids. Maybe he wanted to get out of teaching them any longer…too soon? Yeah, ok. But this man, this hero did what some, if not most, teachers would do to protect the kids. And I got his feeling. I would never say that I will be brave like he was. But I am hoping that if it ever comes to that, I will be able to shield those kids, like any parent would do. My deepest respect to that teacher.

Kid, Thinking, Life Story, Vietnam, Culture

Now about that transition period, what is it? Basically, working full time while starting your business full time… And when you start a business, you don’t work 35 hours a week… Really?!I thought it was all unicorns and rainbows! HA! Well, you put it all in there. It became a 7 days/week of non stop working. No training, no healthy eating, just working. Slowly eating away at your energy level, missing the trip in Vietnam and falling in a state you tried so very hard to avoid, deep fatigue and the beginning of depression… Really?! Jesus I thought you were getting better! Wait! Don’t panic here people. I’m all good. I learned one thing. I learned to notice the signs.

My signs at least :

  • Fatigue and lack of energy. But that could be just from working 7 days a week.
  • Lack of motivation to cook and go to the gym. Again, working to much, no…?
  • Self-doubt. Mhmm… this one is different. Questioning your decision. Ok, starting to get it..
  • Making excuses to avoid taking care of myself. Getting sick. Wait! Getting sick is not a symptom! But here’s the, when I don’t feel good, my body follows a little bit my mind there and goes something like “Hey, how about we let ourselves get sick a little. No?”
  • Then there’s the little things. Disorganised/messy room. The mess that kept growing and just genuinely letting myself go. And not wanting to do anything anymore.

There’s other signs that help you notice if you have signs of depression and I would strongly encourage anyone to look them up. I got to know myself better in the last year and also learned how to move away from these patterns pretty fast.

Sunset, Vietnam, Roadtrip

The thing is that starting a business takes a toll on your mind and your body. And that transition period was not only about working 7 days a week, it’s also a mental transition into a world of insecurity where you depend but only on yourself, your work and that once you fall, your business falls with you. Once you accept that things might be harder, that things will not be stable, that stress is part of life and most of all, that you allow yourself or even impose yourself some time to take care of yourself, things get better and more fun. When you eat healthy, go to the gym, spend quality time with people you care and talk about something else then work, the pressure falls off. The self-doubt fades away and you feel like you’re just thriving in this career that you are building for yourself.

I’ll tell you this, it’s still scary. But as time goes by, as I get used to some things and as I see people I work with being satisfied of what I do, things get more and more exciting. And it’s just the beginning.

Friends, Motorcycles, Vietnam, FunDon’t give up and most of all, if you have people closet to you to support you and that love you, don’t be scared to talk to them and don’t think you are alone in it. You’re never really alone after all.

Dragos out!

Today’s item on the list :

  • Try Peanut Butter and Jam… I had never tried it before this week! I know, crazy, but what are you gonna do. Sue me?

What am I reading right now :

  • South of the Border,  West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami.

If you like the blog, support it to keep it going.

How to Take a Calculated Risk in Business

This is technically my second leap of faith. The first is where I left everything behind back in Canada to start a crazy expat life in Beijing. First one was more “life oriented”. This is more “business oriented”, but still kinda life oriented. 20180127_112024.jpgNow, before I tell you how to make it happen, please understand that this is based off my personal experience that came with the luck of living through failed business ventures. Sarcasm, nice! Yes, it happens, so you need to accept that it can be a very real possibility. And it usually costs a whole of a lot more then just money… But you’re not in it for failure, you must be in it because you believe in it, are willing to work hard for it and because it is fun. Work can be fun?! It must be. Or else, why would you going through all this pain?

Now what is this thing about “Leap of Faith”? Since I’ve been to China, I got the chance to try a couple of things. One of which is the very comfortable teaching job that a lot of people can sit on and spend their life just chilling without real ambition. mmexport1515728037329.pngI’ve been working on a couple marketing contracts here and there, but recently, the work has started to pile up and so did the offers. I needed to make a choice. Comfy life as a teacher regardless of how cute the kids are versus taking a leap of faith (Ahh! The title makes sense now!) and fully invest myself into my career as a marketing strategy consultant and build myself a marketing agency. Wait, a marketing agency?! Yes, you heard right, I’m build a marketing agency. A “borderless” one at that. Now what fueled that decision to start this business and move away from my current comfort? Besides stubbornness. I’ll tell you what fueled it and also what made me through with it.IMG_20180127_003052_017.jpg The factors I personally considered. Everyone can have different factors, it’s a personal decision after all. But these are mine and maybe it will help you think of yours.

First off, I’ve been working like a demon here. Whoa, really?! Yeah. Teaching full time, doing contracts in marketing, doing tutoring and networking. Through these networking events, I met some amazing people, some of which wanted to do more business with me. But the teaching job is a bit of turn off for most Beijingers here. Why? Well… Foreign teachers are liked mainly by the parents. Everyone else in the business world regards them with a different and somewhat less charming opinion. None the less, I was being a teacher as a way to get by in an unknown country without speaking the language. Meanwhile, contracts started to pile up. It started with Kakuka which was the first one to ask me to become their consultant (thanks for the push guys!). And you know what, I liked it. I loved it. I had and still have fun doing it. I still work with them by the way. Then another. And another. That’s 3 contracts as a marketing consultant plus a full-time job as a teacher plus some extra tutoring… I don’t know for you guys, but there’s only 24h in a day and regardless of how much of a workaholic you are, it takes a toll on your body and you need to make a decision.Training in the Colld I already had people believing in me and was already establishing myself. This is what fueled it. Now what actually made me take the leap?

First off, I already had contracts and income from it. I had established myself as a hard worker and a reliable trustworthy person. I intend to keep that reputation because here, in China, reputation is everything. Second, I had reached my limit. You could have given up sleep, no?  No! In order to say yes to more of what I’m good at, I needed to let go of something. And sleep is not something I would recommend letting go of. That left me with one option, the comfort of teaching and although I got quite a big pay cut, I do believe I will compensate fast with additional contracts. Money was barely an excuse here, even if it can be stressful at the beginning there was only one thing stopping me from doing it. Fear. It creeps on you and takes a hold. The fear of failure.20180116_101532.jpg I had already tasted it twice. I’m still paying for it. I wanted to challenge it again. If fear is the only excuse and your gut feeling and your logic are aligned, do it. And you did ? And I did.

I’m going on a holiday for the next two weeks. Yey, Chinese New Year! (although I’ll still be working) I’m going to take that time to build the marketing agency and everything that comes with it. Basically, the brand of the agency and the people that will be part of it. One thing I want to push through this agency is what people gave me. Trust. As people trusted me to help them, I want to build an agency that help companies build trust with their customers and for me, that also means choosing who I’m going to do business with. Weird business model. I know. But the more I move forward, the more I realized something. People want to believe and trust other people. Why not do the same for companies? Before I say yes to a contract, I want to be like any other customer and know I can trust this company. Meet up, talk, create a real human connection. Business will come after. I think we’ve all had enough BS in our daily life and we all deserve more from both people and companies around us. Now what to call this amazing little dream of mine…?

Dragos out!

Today’s item on the list : 

  • Launch a new business venture. Be fearless! (almost…)

What am I reading now?

  • Hacking Growth by Morgan Brown and Sean Ellis
  • Game of Thrones – A Dance with Dragons

If you like the blog, support it to keep it going.

Relaxing at Home

It’s Saturday morning here in Beijing. I’m enjoying myself a nice little date with my coffee before heading to work and I decided it’s a good time to also write about last week-end. What? What happened last weekend?! Well, for those of you that don’t know, I actually had a short trip home, in Canada. By short, I mean 3 days in Montreal (hometown). Yeah, I know, that’s really short.

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Work actually sent me that way and it allowed me to surprise my parents and some friends. What work? Well, I have this marketing contract with Children’s Tales International Kindergarten. Basically, they needed a hand in recruiting teachers from Canada to bring to Beijing. English teachers. Competent and qualified teachers. If you have your TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language), I’ve got a job for you.20180118_083045[1]

You see, Beijing has a huge lack of English teachers and schools pay teachers quite a lot of money to work for them. Heck! A lot of people coming to Beijing that speak fluently English can easily get a teaching job while they decide what to do as a next step. Kind of like what I did.

So I ended up helping this school as their marketing consultant / recruitment manager during a job expo in Toronto. It was a good turn out and I was actually surprised at how many people are interested in boarding a plane and trying the adventure. It also turned out that we all needed to go to Montreal after the job fair to visit family and friends. (Yey for me!). And me being me… I just ended up showing up on people’s doorstep. “Surprise!” 20180116_101532[1]And they were surprised indeed. Starting with my parents. Especially if you have a smartass like me knocking on your door at 11PM while you’re sleeping. Thank God they love me or else I would have slept in an Igloo, Canadian style.

This short trip was also a bit of a trip down memory lane and the acceptance of a very real situation. I’m not going back anytime soon and therefore, I packed everything I needed (clothes) and gave everything else away. I spent great time with my family, met my nephew and had an amazing evening with my best friends. Like we used to. Cooking together, scotch around the fire and heartfelt conversations. Always being busy doesn’t leave me that much time to think back. But that weekend, I had to stop and enjoy every second of it.

20180117_2242241.jpgLet’s try something.

Imagine that you live halfway across the world from everything you love. And then, out of nowhere, you get 3 days back home. One weekend. No more. After, you have to go back halfway across the world with the clear thought “I don’t know when I will see them again”. What do you do out of those 3 days? Close your eyes and think very carefully about it.

Here’s what I did. I chose carefully the time I had to see friends, as short as it was. I couldn’t see everyone, regardless of how much I wanted. And I just did with them what I missed the most and will miss the most. Brunch, diner, cooking, beer.

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Simple stuff. No point in going crazy and all flashy here. I just wanted and needed to reconnect with the things that mattered the most to me. And to be honest, when I cooked with my friends, had a glass of scotch and just sat around the fire talking about a million things, that’s when I felt at my best. It stirred up a lot of things in me. Mainly good things. And it allowed me to create another beautiful memory with them. God I had missed those nights together and I will miss this one too.

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It does happen to me often that I wish to get back those nights we had before, but the reality is that I’m on this new adventure and I know at least one thing. At any point, I can go back home and sit down and have a glass of Scotch around the fire with the people that matter, regardless of how much time passes.

Dragos out!

Today’s item on the list:

  • Stop living like a backpacker… (Friends in Beijing are quite happy about this one)

What am I reading?

    • Hacking Growth by Morgan Brown and Sean Ellis
  • Game of Thrones – A Dance with Dragons (Given no GoT this year, might as well read it in the meantime. Personal pleasure and such).

If you like the blog, support it to keep it going.

 

Have you seen my latest video? Check it out!

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How to Deal With Mistakes

First of all, Happy New Year to all!

I wish every single one of you and your friends, family and pets to have a wonderful 2018 filled with adventures, laughter and good food in great company. I once again took some time before writing again because sometimes, reflection requires time. Yeah, I know, I do spend some time thinking every now and then. What have I been thinking about? Well, as you know, when the end of the year comes, we tend to start to look back at everything that happened in the last year. Most of us… Some don’t need that and it’s fine too.

Before I delve into the profound reflection of my 2017 year, here’s a little story that triggered my reflection. I have a necklace, I gift I got from someone very precious to me. That necklace is still very precious to me. In 2016, that necklace broke and my lazy sorry ass of a person took forever to repair. Given how precious this was to me, you would wonder why it took me forever. I did too until I understood that my lack of motivation of taking care of what’s important to me was already a big problem.

So I got it fixed back in 2017. Unfortunately, too little to late. But still, that necklace became to me a reminder of the good times and also not to screw up anymore. Or at least, try not too. Dude… where are you going with this necklace story?! I know, wait for it. End of 2017, it brakes again. Same link that broke last time. Turns out it wasn’t well repaired and I was like “God damn… this necklace keeps braking…why?” What would you do in this situation if you were me? Would you throw it away? Would you repair it again?

Turns out I’m a stubborn man and I went ahead and repaired it again, but the job is better done. Which is what triggered the reflection and connects with the title of this article. Why do things have to be definitive in life? Nothing is really immutable except ONE thing. When you are dead. Crazy right? So I will keep repairing this necklace if it brakes, the same way that nothing stops me nor should stop anyone from trying their best to make things better even when it feels like it cannot be. It all depends on the people.

We can always make amends, we can always try to repair things. The hardest thing really is the “trying” part. It means taking on a huge humility lesson when you screw up and it means accepting the storm that comes with it. But truly, if you are honest and do it from the heart, nothing is immutable. It’s with this state of mind that I’m starting 2018. I will keep working hard, keep repairing that necklace if it breaks.

This lesson applies to another aspect of my life, which is the professional side. I had some hiccups along my professional career. Some…? Ok, maybe more then some. But it all comes down the same thing. When you fail, you get up and try again, but better. And again. You have such a higher chance of succeeding then not trying at all. In that aspect, I’m tackling once again the start up world and the world of small people with big dreams. I’m tackling it as a Marketing Strategy Consultant, using both my experience and continuous learning because marketing is not set it stone either. It evolves and changes constantly.

I hope you all keep dreaming and remember that nothing stops you from trying again when you fail.

Happy New Year all!

Dragos out!

Today’s item on the list :

  • Choose a new career path!

What I am reading now? (Starting this new item to share good reads).

  • Top of Mind by John Hall

If you like the blog, support it to keep it going.

Becoming a Teacher in China

As mentioned in some of my latest articles, I briefly said that I was working as a teacher in China.

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WAIT! Don’t panic, I’m not raising the next spawns of evil here or corrupting them into becoming perfect little dictator puppets to assert my own world domination. I just teach them English Coughing* And how to manipulate public opinion*Coughing . “What did you just say?” Me, nothing. Moving on to the kids teaching. What kind of kids would you ask? And in what world would anyone hire an inexperienced, non certified teacher for kids? Beijing does. Beijing is desperate to teach their next generation of kids how to speak English. So they hire anyone that speaks it more or less correctly to teach to very young kids (2 or 3 years old) and as they get older, they want better teachers to give refined English lessons. That doesn’t mean teaching Shakespeare, unfortunately, it means proper use of vocabulary, sound tones, accents, clear and natural sentences and your occasional grammar basics.

In one of my posts, I told you how busy I am. Teaching, Marketing, Training. This is only about my experience teaching kids. First off, my full time gig as a teacher is with a group of 25 kids that are 3 years old… Nope, it was not a mistype, it’s indeed 25 kids… I teach them from 8h to 17h with a 2h30 break in the middle. Because at that age, they need a nap and so do the teacher assistants.

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To be frantic, the TAs (teacher assistants) are young enough that sometimes I feel like I have 28 kids. Now how does that work out for me, being a teacher with such young kids. Full disclosure, me and kids… never knew much about them, always had a hard time connecting with them and I quite simply always felt awkward with them. It’s not that I don’t like them… I just don’t know what to do with them. Are some of my friends surprised by that? (Thinking of those with kids here for obvious reasons). I was always afraid of breaking them, dropping them, hearing them cry, see them puke and so on. I wanted to be friendlier with them, more natural, but seriously, never felt like I was. I have a good friend of mine (Nick, I’m talking about you here). This guy is stupidly natural with kids. Kids love him, he plays with them so easily and it looks like the easiest thing in the world. As for me, in front of a kid staring at me with those big googly eyes waiting for something to happen or to get the f*ck out because I’m boring, I was never so sure. But here I am, teaching these 3 years old…

First things first, my opinion changed. These mini adults are not as bad as I thought. Heck, they are insanely easy to understand after a while. There’s no grey zone with them. It’s black or white. Easy to manage.

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And as their teacher (I go by the name Teacher Big Dragon or some of them started calling me DaLong ShuShu which means very affectionately Uncle Big Dragon), I don’t mind the crying. Sometimes they just come up to me, crying and I just pick them up. They need someone to comfort them. When I teach them English they listen. I try to have fun, so do they. When they don’t listen, I act with authority and am strict with my rules. (Black or white guy here too) They get it. Heck, if you are clear with them, they even respect you and love you. Not an expert here as I will never EVER call myself a teacher. But I get a first class experience of what it means to teach kids, how hard it can be and how little we remember about teachers once we grow up. Not our university teachers people. The ones you don’t always remember because you are too young. And yet, they give their all to help when you are so young. My teacher assistants are of those. I don’t feel I do much to be frantic. I get the sweet role here. But they work hard, they clean, calm down and run after some kids while dealing with my schedule and teaching classes.

Do you get attached? Well, unfortunately, you kinda do. You also have your favorites in the class too. You try not too, but you have a soft spot for some. It doesn’t mean you are nicer to them. Sometimes you are stricter, because you want them to do better. In the very little time I started teaching, I already had so many experiences with these kids. Some are crying because of their parent’s absence. Not because they are currently at the kindergarten, it’s even when they are home. A lot are raised by aunts or grandparents. They are alone. I met even a mother that quite frankly said to me that her kid acts like a spoiled brat… For heaven’s sake I almost slapped her right there. After she told me that, I said the following to her: “If ever I have a kid one day, I would like mine to be exactly like yours. Because he’s smart beyond what you might think and he never acts without a reason.”

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And I wasn’t lying or being mean. I’m not blind either. He’s a troubled (was actually) kid in my class. Hitting other kids, biting, not listening.

But teaching these kids brought me to do something that I always wanted to do, but never really dared to do it. I decided to write to my teacher from when I was in 4th year primary School. Since there’s no actual way of knowing if kids remember you later in life besides actually hearing back from them, I decided that I wanted to do at least this and thank her for how much she inspired a younger Dragos to dream and do more.

Dragos out!

Today’s item on the list :

  • Write to my teacher from primary school to finally thank her.

If you like the blog, support it to keep it going.

Dealing With Chinese National Holidays

First off, just writing this article makes me laugh when you compare it to the last one. Which one? Obviously someone didn’t read it. So go back an read it to get the joke!

Last week was a national holiday in China. The mid-autumn festival which also has the moon festival in it. I basically went from “mental” busy, to holy sh*t, everyone’s gone. No contracts, nothing. China was in vacation. Therefore, I ended up in a forced vacation. Go out and travel you m*ron! Smart plan, right? No! You see, back in May, I learned a very precious lesson about holidays in China. “Stay in home, shut your doors and pass through it!”

Please allow me the luxury of explaining. When China is on vacation, you have 1.8 BILLION PEOPLE deciding it’s a great time to go see… China.IMG_2240 In other words, trains, roads and planes are booked, blocked or insanely expensive. Two of my roommates decided to try their luck none the less. One went to Hong Kong, one went to Shanghai. I have some friends also that went to Huangshan. I even got some videos from people that went to the Great Wall… “It’s mental I tell ya!” Think of all the tourist attractions that people usually go to and you tell yourself “man, there are so many people…” because you have to wait for 30 min to get in. Now multiply by 10…

**Dramatisation of potential reaction in such situation***

You will basically arrive at the tourist spot and loose your sh*t when you see the amount of people. Out of your control, a natural “WTF?!” will come out of your mouth before you start having foam and loose consciousness because you just spent 2000$ worth of airplanes tickets to come visit China in the worst possible moment… So heed my warning travelers! When China’s on vacation, stay away!

***End of dramatization***

Moving on from the very detailed expected reaction, one of my roommates and I stayed in Beijing.IMG_2282 Me because I never planed on leaving in the first place and her… because of lack of planning. “Buy you train tickets in advanced!” Young people never listen… Then again, old people never listen either. I really wonder if there’s a time in your life when you actually listen? Food for thought. We decided to explore a bit Beijing on my scooter. I rode the scooter with music and sunshine with the occasional stop wherever it smelled like good food. Yes people, we did a sort of “Food Crawl”. Like a pub crawl, but for pigs on wheels where we just spent our time eating, riding a little bit, eating some more and walking to digest until we got to our next destination. What a wonderful day it was.IMG_2251 It was very helpful given the fact that Oct 1st was a difficult day for me and I need to change my mind and see the world a bit. Some days will stick with you forever I guess.

On October 4th, it’s the Full Moon Festival. What is it? Well, you eat moon cakes and find the best spot to get a picture of the full moon. We went to the best place in Beijing for it. The Marco Polo Bridge. We got there early (less people) and when the moon was out, we did every single moon picture we could, imitating as much as possible the rest of the Chinese tourists. I will be frantic here, it was pretty and romantic. Great spot for lovers, dates and couples. So I will remember it if I ever will use in such a situation… Still a nice spot for a 20 year old and a 31 year old roommates friends. “Uhu… roommate friends he says.” you would say. IMG_2277You guys are being weird and horny… But really, no reason to be.

The bridge was lit, the moon was floating over the river, the city gate was also lit and every now and then, you have a Chinese lantern flying through the sky, filled with wishes and dreams. We went on strolling randomly towards where we thought the big celebration was happening, a park nearby. As we moved away from the bridge and towards this… park, it became darker, with lesser light. Until you had but the moonlight to show us the way. The night was already pretty random. So we went on through the randomness. We crossed a broken fence with barbwire nearby. Kept on walking in the darkness, following the sound of people laughing towards a second bridge. And then, the laughter stopped when they saw us and we saw them. Shock, amazement and “wtf?!” were over all our faces. Under the second bridge (the real big one), we discovered a “junior military camp” with baby thanks and young people in uniform. No one said nothing. And I just walked. My roommate followed. I smiled, they calmed down and smiled back. Everyone understood one thing. We are but two random foreigners that got lost in this “closed off” park. We ended up after a long walk (it’s a big park) finding something like an exit, but closed. And again, a guard was staring. My roommate was telling me “why are you heading towards him!?”. And in my most casual manner, I just told her “Well, to ask him to let us out. Why else?” After a quick exchange with the guard, he also understood that in front of him was standing a moron, yet handsome, foreigner and a friend that took a weird turn. So he let us out. Everything was very smooth and weird. Perfect for a full moon night! Next full moon, go on you own weird full moon stroll. See where it takes you. And don’t forget, you can’t be blamed for being the handsome village idiot. Just smile and keep on walking. 😉

Dragos out!

Today’s item on the list:

  • Look for a random adventure!

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How to Find an Apartment in Beijing

As part of the life of a real expat, you sometimes need to look for a new apartment. It’s a bit my situation. I currently do live in an apartment, but as you might know, I share it with roommates and cockroaches (Or Tommys as one of my roommates so affectionately calls them). Am I moving because of the cockroaches? No. Having your everyday friendly Tommy saying, “Good morning!” and “Have a nice day!” is the closest thing to a girlfriend I can have now. I don’t mind them all that much. 20170715_161752I just wished they also did the dishes or moped the floor… But Tommy only likes to eat and have sex. Almost like a cat, but without the cuteness. Hence the cat picture instead of a close up of Tommy.

Why am I moving if I’m in such a close relationship with Tommy? Well, the landlady is selling the place. I doubt she will sell it anytime soon given that most of the people visiting the apartment tend to try running as soon as they open the door. (It’s a hell hole…). I will not talk about the permanent pool we have in the bathroom and the little black worms playing “Marco Polo” in it. I won’t talk about it!  Regardless of all that, she’s still trying to sell the place for the whooping total of 7 million. RMB. You heard me right kids. 7 million… That’s two million $CAN. You should see the potential beyond the layer of horror! That sh*thole is still $CAN 2 M…IMG_0899 “Good luck!” I would say. But instead of gambling on it, I decided to start looking for a new place. At least, to prevent the worse and who knows how long my relationship with Tommy will work out?

So how does the hunt for an apartment work here? Well, you can use thebeijinger.com website, the foreigner “go to” for everything from work to finding an apartment. Or you can use the many groups on WeChat that publish new apartments. There are a lot of places. Where’s the problem? Well, you need to try to find an apartment without agent fees. Agent fees?! Yes, I said the same thing. You have all these agency that manage apartments / rooms. The agent fee is usually the price of a month. Then, you have to pay a deposit (usually a whole month) and then, a lot of places want you to pay every 3 months. If you’ve passed your elementary math class, that’s 5 months worth of rent you have to pay the day you move in. Insane! IMG_0816Completely mad! Some pay it. But a lot are looking for those apartments rented directly by the owners and where you only pay the deposit and, with some luck, monthly rent.

Isn’t rent cheap in Beijing? Nope! That’s where everyone can get f*cked quite well. Rent for a room goes anywhere between 2000rmb (that’s $CAN400) up to 5000RMB (that’s $CAN1000) for a room. A ROOM! Then, for a whole apartment like I used to have back in Montreal, in another life, it can go up to 15000RMB a month. That’s sick! But given that Beijing is the city with the highest salaries in the country, it’s also an opportunity for those that own a place to make money and pay for their own place. Everything else can be very cheap. Transport, food, restaurants, bars. But apartments are like a battlefield. Therefore, it’s in that context that I must think about finding a new place. Time to put my helmet on and go to war! “I WANT ONE THAT’S TOMMY FREE!!!” 4k… damn… maybe I’ll settle with some Tommy’s after all.

Dragriffin out!

Today’s item on the list:

  • Eat some awesome ramen! (When your kitchen scares you, you go out to eat!)

If you like the blog, support it to keep it going!