Day 560 OUT OF Beijing: Back in San Francisco!


The rainbow crosswalk in the Castro District.

The rainbow crosswalk in the Castro District.


Jill and I were supposed to fly into San Francisco on December 15th.

However, our flight was diverted to Oakland because of the storms and we weren’t able to land back in our “home” town.  We had some turbulence on the way down and yet the overall flight was fine.

This was actually a fitting end to our travels in, and out of, China as it has been an incredibly bumpy ride for the last 1.5 years.

Some of the high points:

Jill and I are engaged.   Hell, we met only 8 days before I moved to China so the fact that we even made it there is amazing enough.  But engaged?  Truly incredible.

I was able to help a lot of people in need of therapy and coaching.  I worked on some of the most high profile cases in Beijing.  If you look at the news of what happened, with expatriates living in China during the past 1.5 years, there is a decent chance I worked on the disaster and tragedies as a psychotherapist and a trauma specialist.

I worked with the most amazing co-workers and staff.  I was able, at any moment, to get support, knowledge, and whatever my clients, or I, needed to make sure the client had the best care possible.  The knowledge level at my company is amazing and the professionalism is beyond compare.  I’m honored to have spent 1.5 years with them and could not have wished for a better group of people to work for and with.

We made an amazing amount of friends and connections.  People inspired us to dream bigger and not settle for the norm.  It takes a special kind of person to survive, and thrive, in Beijing and our friends do that.

We were able to save a nice little nest egg for our future plans to travel around the USA and build our business at San Francisco Tourism Tips over the next year or so.  We are also going to be building a new website to help people live their dreams and take the road less traveled.

We were able to visit parts of China including Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Tianjin and see places out of history like The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, and The Terracotta Warriors.  These and many others will live on in our pictures, this blog, and our memories for the rest of our lives.

We also were able to visit Singapore, Malaysia, Mongolia, Turkey, and Greece.  Not a bad way to spend a year and a half.

Some of the bad points:

RAB (Richard Arden Bermudes) passed away while we were gone and we were not able to say goodbye in person. This will haunt me.

Jill’s grandmother passed away while we were gone and she wasn’t able to be there for the funeral and memorial.  She seems to be doing fine with it and was able to say her goodbyes before we left but I’m sure this still is upsetting to some degree.

As mentioned above, I worked on a lot of the major disasters that happened in Beijing during my stay.  This was incredibly positive because I could help a lot of people but it was also difficult because I saw so much grief and death in my 1.5 years.  From what I’ve been told, the 1.5 years I worked at my company saw as much emergency situations as anyone can remember.  And I always volunteered to help because I enjoyed doing it but it did wear me down.  However, I don’t regret one second of it.  I know I helped save peoples’ lives and helped them find a way out of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, psychosis and other very painful places.

Jill had a breast cancer scare and needed to get a biopsy.  This can be scary enough, living in the USA, but living in a foreign country makes it 10x worse. Everything turned out fine but it was still not an enjoyable experience.

Jill fell and hit her head and had a huge bruise for quite a while.  The amazing thing about Jill is that almost nothing gets her down.  She was able to laugh about what happened and let me write a few blogs and post pictures.  She is truly amazing.

This is just a short list of things that happened and I’m going to be writing a travelogue about them and others in the next year.

Jill and I sort of forgot all of these events as we drove into San Francisco with our dear friend, Alethea Bermudes and saw the Golden Gate Bridge rise out of the fog and clouds.

The Grateful Dead once sang, “What a long strange trip its been” and they were partially right because our long strange AND AMAZING trip has just begun.   It is past, present and future tense.

We both hope you continue along with us as we travel around the USA and then off to some foreign country to see what the future brings us next.


Day 556 OUT OF Beijing: Bye Bye Beijing.


Jill, the cake, and me.

Jill and I are ready to have some Bye Bye Beijing cake!


Jill and I are somewhere over the Pacific Ocean right now.

We are flying home and hopefully we are peacefully asleep as you all read this.

We are out of Beijing and on to our continued adventures as mobile vagabonds.

In the last 1.5 years we have had so many amazing experiences, made so many friends, and seen so much that this blog barely touches the surface our our time abroad.

I will be, in the future, writing a book about it and going very deeply into what it is like to live in China, be a therapist here, and how it has affected both Jill and me.

However, at this moment, I just want to thank all my amazing friends who Jill and I have met here in Beijing and in China.

This also includes our friends we’ve met on our travels to Malaysia, Singapore, Mongolia, Greece and Turkey during the past 1.5 year here.

We decided we’d have a little Bye Bye Beijing party and it was fantastic.  We had it at The Local and it was a perfect way to say goodbye and start to move on.

Being an expat can be difficult because people are constantly moving and appearing or disappearing from your life. We know this is part of the joy and the sadness.  I had to say goodbye to a lot of clients also and that is a tough part of being a therapist.  You help people through their most difficult times in life, see them change, and then have to say goodbye.  It is both a joyful experience and a loss.  Maybe that is why I’m okay with being an expat and seeing so many people come and go.  I can accept that they will leave, I enjoy the time I have with them, and then I know that something else will appear and I’ll learn more or see a new way of thinking.

I also hope that these friends, and the many others we’ve made, will come visit us wherever we are and keep in contact.

As for plans, we expect to be in San Francisco Bay Area for the next 3 months.  Jill has an amazing website, San Francisco Tourism Tips, and we need to be there to support it and our livelihood.  If you haven’t see her site, please click the link above and subscribe or like it on Facebook.  Also share it with anyone you know that might be interested.  It is made for travelers and locals and Jill has done an amazing job.  I’m absolutely amazed at how hard she works and how professional she is regarding this business.

During our stay in San Francisco, we will see my sister Stacy’s family, and my dad, in Walnut Creek.  During this time, we will visit my brother Dave’s family in Portland.  After that, we will head down to Los Angeles to see friends and family for about a month.  During that month, we will make a quick jump down to Cancun to see Jill’s sister Julie and her family.  Then over to Santa Fe, NM to see my mom Judy and her husband, Phil.  Lastly, we will hit Nebraska to see Jill’s parents, Emma and Bill.

After that?

We are thinking we will live in Costa Rica or possibly Colombia.  We have a lot of options and it could even include moving to Turkey or Greece.

It is a hard life but somebody has to live it.  🙂

We are also building a new website that will be unveiled in the next month or two.  It will focus on helping others live their dream life, figuring out what that exactly is, how to plan it, deal with problems that come up, and then inspire others to do the same.  Keep your eyes open for it because it is a life dream for us to help others make their dreams become reality.  This includes you, our dear readers!

Thank you for being a part of this journey as we’ve reached 556 days in Beijing.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have.

We look forward to seeing everyone back at home, or wherever you are, and continuing to write the story of our lives as it moves ahead.

Enjoy our final post from Beijing and pictures of the party.


Day 488 In Beijing: Trip To Tianjin, Part 5.


A "view" of the fireworks.  And of the pollution.

A “view” of the fireworks. And of the pollution.


Jill, Nuria and I love fireworks.

So do the Chinese people.

Fireworks actually started in China and they know what they are doing.

Strangely enough, there is a fireworks factory near Nuria’s apartment.

The zoning regulations in China are a bit different than in the USA.

They go off, from what we can tell, about every 2 hours, without a specific reason or time, and last for about 1 minute or so.

We think they are just testing them, but we can’t see them, and we aren’t sure why they would need to test them that often.

We are guessing someone at the factory just likes blowing stuff up and realized they can fire them off, whenever they want, as long as they made up a darn good reason, like “We need to test them every 2.33 hours of the day.”

This includes at night when they are still working.

Luckily, the windows are thick enough that we don’t really hear them while we are trying to sleep.

I do feel bad for the people that live closer to the factory and don’t live in a modern apartment building like the one Nuria lives in.

That would be a bit tiresome to hear these explosions throughout the night.



Day 487 In Beijing: Trip To Tianjin, Part 4.


I'm a cowboy! On a steel horse I ride!

I’m a cowboy! On a steel horse I ride!

Jill and I are seriously young at heart.

We are both in good health, as far as we know, and we try to keep a positive attitude on life.

I used to be a juggler, back in the day, and used to perform with my older brother, David, in Santa Rosa and Davis.

We also performed a few other places but I can’t really remember.

So much for being young at head.  🙂

Anyway, I tend to like doing silly things and making people laugh.

I never wanted to have kids but I think I always wanted to stay a kid and I’m doing my best to achieve that goal.

In light of that, I thought I’d post this video, from a few nights ago, when we were on our way to dinner with Nuria.

Nuria, as you can see, hops on right after I got off.

The poor machine didn’t move an inch, under our weight, but was just fine after we were done.

The shopkeeper was laughing and smiling at us as we goofed off and seemed to enjoy it.


Day 486 In Beijing: Trip To Tianjin, Part 3.


Traffic, and the traffic lights cameras, at the intersection.

Traffic, and the traffic lights cameras, at the intersection.

Jill, Nuria and I decided to go out to a local Chinese restaurant for dinner.

There are a lot of them around, not just because we are in China, but because we are in a Chinese district of Tianjin.

Tianjin, if you remember, has about 15,000,000 people living in it and yet isn’t really very well known.

It is a second tier city, because of many reasons, and pretty much no one knows about it, outside of China, because it is mostly a factory town.

Expats don’t tend to live here because they aren’t factory workers or middle management.  They are higher up, and therefore, live in Beijing or Shanghai where the business of business happens.

We took a taxi to the restaurant and I noticed that there were loads of flashing lights at the stop light.

I have never seen anything like this so I wanted to get a video of it to show everyone how often these cameras are taking pictures.

We talked to the cabbie, on the taxi ride home, and he said it is to see how busy the traffic is at that moment.

However, in Beijing, since there are too many cars, they have certain days, each week, that you can’t drive.

They use your license plate and if you are caught driving on that day twice in one year, you lose your license.

Pretty harsh.

We asked if that same law applies here in Tianjin and the drive said yes.

So, that means they are also tracking the amount of cars, and the people driving when they shouldn’t be, constantly.

That being said, it was a pretty cool light show.



Day 485 In Beijing: Trip To Tianjin, Part 2.


The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in TIanjin.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Tianjin.

Jill, Nuria, and I decided to cruise around Tianjin and check out the sites.

Again, this is a city of 15,000,000 people and there are lots of high rises, just like in Beijing, and we were ready for the same old mega-city yuck of sprawl and “progress.”

Nuria had told us that there are certain areas of Tianjin, since it had been a trading post and had different rules than much of China in the early 1900s, and we would be in for a surprise.

She was right.

We walked around the “British” section and could have sworn we were back in London or a British city.

The buildings definitely did not resemble anything we’d seen in China and we enjoy the quiet and serene walk through Tianjin’s financial district.  The district was pretty dead, since it is the National Holiday, and everyone was off seeing their family but, even so, it was a stark contrast to the constant noise and drama of Beijing.

We absolutely loved the architecture and that these buildings are historical and will be protected instead of being torn down to make room for more skyscrapers.

We then went to lunch and had a nice authentic Chinese meal and the manager of the restaurant came over and started speaking to us in perfect English.

He was super friendly and very kind.

Nuria has lived in China for 6 years and speaks incredible Mandarin but being able to speak to someone in English makes it easier for all of us because she doesn’t have to translate everything.

I have to admit, her translations are hilarious for this one reason: Her native tongue is Spanish and she then, because of her own history, usually translates the Mandarin to me in Spanish.

Now, I know some Spanish, from living in California and being an avid salsa dancer, but I definitely am not fluent.

I am usually able to catch the gist of what she is saying and then say, “Uh, English for Jill, please.”

Nuria, who has the most positive attitude of anyone I’ve ever met, just starts laughing and translates quickly into English.

We then decided to head home and took the subway, which was fairly empty, and bought some fruit off a street merchant and started to get ready to out to the Italian Quarter later that night.


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