Day 623 OUT OF Beijing: Minimizing to Maximize our Travels and Life.


Jill beside our luggage to show perspective.

Jill beside our luggage to show perspective.


Jill and I are getting ready to set out on another epic trip all over the world.

We know we are hitting Los Angeles, Cancun, Santa Fe, Nebraska (Jill’s parents live there) and then we are off to parts unknown.

We are expecting to go to Costa Rica to start our travels outside of the USA.

However, we might go and hang out with my cousin, Michele and her husband, John, down in Mexico if that works and they want us to come.

We also have invites to stay in Colombia, Spain and so many other places that it is hard to even comprehend what wonderful and exciting adventures are coming our way!

In our year and half together we’ve already visited China, Mongolia, Singapore, Malaysia, Greece and Turkey, where I asked Jill to marry me (yes, she accepted).

Being that Jill and I have figured out we really don’t need much when we travel, we have decided to minimize to a massive extent.  We only had one carry on each for a month when we were in Greece and Turkey.  We know we don’t know much and hate having extra weight or unused gear.

Here’s where it all started. When we moved to China, we both had 2 full sized pieces of luggage, 2 carry on and a backpack.  I had basically sold everything else I had and Jill had a small storage area.

That was for 1.5 years and the only reason we needed so much was because I needed to buy gifts for people, bring my therapy books over, and we would be faced with major temperature changes and be prepared to have all deal with all kinds of issues that might have come up.

By the time we had left, we had minimized down to 1 check in, 2 carry on and 1 extra bag each.

Even though that is much less than most people we know, we knew that there is no way that would work for us if we wanted to keep cruising and be as mobile as possible as we travel all over the world.

So, we’ve been whittling down our luggage and our clothes over the past 2 months.

Today was the day of reckoning.  We got Jill’s backpack from her friend Leslie, and started packing again.

We gave away 2 more bags of clothes to Goodwill and both of our large check pieces of luggage were emptied.  They will either be used by Randy, since he travels so much playing with different bands around the world, or they will be donated.

We also will donate two of our smaller bags that we don’t need.

So, we are down to 4 bags total.

1 check in piece of luggage.

One 45 liter backpack.

1 15 liter day pack.

1 5 liter mini day pack.

We plan to buy a 30 liter backpack and get rid of the check in piece of luggage.

It isn’t that the check in piece, which has wheels, isn’t useful, it is that we want to be more mobile and able to adjust to our travels.  Backpacks give us that.

Our plan, when needed, is to wear the 45 liter backpack on the back and the 5 liter backpack on the front.  This will balance our load and will allow us to carry everyone.  Jill will wear the 15 liter day pack and wheel the carry on until we get the new backpack.

Less than two weeks from now, we head off on our Megabus to Los Angeles and then the fun begins.

By they way, about 1/5 of the 45 liter backpack is taken up by my cycling gear.  This will be dropped off at my friend Christopher’s house as we want to do a some cycling when I get there and hopefully when we return.  That is why we will be able to survive with a 30 liter backpack instead of another 45 liter one.  The beauty is that both of these don’t have to be checked when we board a plane so it is faster, easier and safer.  We still are able to fit both our computers, our kindles, and our phones since we will be working from wherever we are.  We don’t feel we are going “without” because we have what we need.

Our view on life is simple:

Own your things.  Don’t let your things own you.



Day 618 OUT OF Beijing: Valentine’s Day, Love and Carnaval San Francisco.


Page 3 on Carnaval San Francisco's DRUM BEAT!

Page 3 on Carnaval San Francisco’s DRUM BEAT!


Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and Jill and I both got a wonderful surprise that helped us celebrate our love courtesy of Carnaval San Francisco.

If you remember, Jill and I met at Carnaval almost two years ago.

That was 8 days before I was going to leave for China.

I was meeting my buddy, Jon-David, to hang out and watch the parade.  It was going to be my last Carnaval for 3 years since I planned to stay in China for the duration of my contract and wanted to see other places instead of coming back to the bay area.

Little did I know I’d meet the love of my life, Jill Loeffler.

I posted about our first date, the next day, and how we had a “First Date Re-Dux” when we got back to San Francisco about 2 months ago now.  By the way, we are leaving San Francisco in 14 days.  Time really does fly in so many ways!

I tagged Carnaval San Francisco in my blog because I wanted them to know how much we appreciate them and how important they are to Jill’s and my story.  BiancaEstella de la Rocha, noticed my blog post and how we met at Carnaval.  She wrote to me and asked if we’d like to be featured in the Valentine’s Day edition of DRUM BEAT.

DRUM BEAT is their official newsletter and we were both blown away and humbled at the same time.

Bianca told us that she would put us in contact with Valencia Newton and she would do the interview.

Valencia contacted us, about a week or so later, and we set up a time to meet.

We met at a coffee shop on Market Street and had a great time.

Valencia is someone that we instantly took a liking to since she is so happy, gregarious and outgoing.

She is also the current Queen of Carnaval San Francisco!

How cool is that?  Jill and I got to be interviewed by the Queen!!!

Valencia told us this was her first time she had professionally interviewed someone and we were quite surprised as she had a lot of questions, seemed at ease, and was very professional and concise.  I, on the other, tend to babble and Jill rolled her eyes more than once and said, “Yep, this is Aram.  He gets excited and tends to talk a lot.”  Jill worked in journalism, and on the radio, and so she knows how to do interviews and how to be interview. I tend just to talk and want to have people “raised up” by my excitement.  I think, in looking back, it is another reason why we do so well as a couple since we balance each other out.  She grounds me when I need it, and I ground her when she needs it (which is not that often.  Jill’s a rock and I’m constantly amazed by her stability and ability to know what is the right choice in almost any occasion).

The interview took about an hour and we talked about everything from falling in love, blogging each day, running San Francisco Tourism Tips for the last 5 years (and the last 1.5 years in CHINA!), minimization, getting engaged in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey, what we have planned for our new website and also what Valencia’s dreams and hopes are.  It was like we were friends that had known each other for years.

Valencia is going to be a natural at this and I see someone that is ready to take the world by the horns!

We were told the edition would come out on Valentine’s Day and Valencia let us know we could read through and do corrections with the different drafts.  About 2 weeks later, she sent us the first draft and it was almost perfect.  She had done an excellent job of getting the facts straight, making a very coherent and exciting article, and almost being 100% correct.  We were really pleased and excited to know that our story was going to be in print sometime soon.

Another exciting part was the photograph that Valencia chose for the interview: It was of us in Santorini, Greece, at our friend Vassilias Micheal Chryssos‘ bar and restaurant, Palia Kameni Cocktail Bar.  It was a very romantic night and we met up with Vassilias here in San Francisco as he and his girlfriend, Soneth, are traveling (and working) in California for a few months.

I’ve posted the interview below.  Please do me a huge favor and go to the Carnaval SF Facebook page and “like” their page.  Also, go to the Carnaval and support them with your patronage, your money and you joy.  This is an organization that does so much, for so many, with so little.  Along with allowing us to meet and fall in love, it is one more of the reasons that Jill and I love Carnaval SF.


Click here to see the PDF version of the Valentine’s Day DRUM BEAT featuring Jill and me!  We are on page 3 and 4. Valenica, who interviewed us, is in a photograph on page 2 dressed as the Queen and standing with the King.


Page 4 of Carnaval San Francisco's DRUM BEAT!

Page 4 of Carnaval San Francisco’s DRUM BEAT!



Day 617 OUT OF Beijing: Precis and the very early days of my blog.


Issue 6, Edition 1 of Precis.

Issue 6, Edition 1 of Precis.


Jill and I woke up, checked our email, and had a very nice surprise this morning: Some of my first few blog posts were in my friend, Chris Stecher’s, online magazine, Precis.

Chris is a rather amazing fellow: He’s traveled pretty much everywhere, is an incredible photographer, lives outside the box in more ways than I can ever imagine, just got married to the woman of his dreams (shout out to Kat Tosi!) and lives in Beijing.

We met both he and his wife, Kat, in Beijing about a year ago. They are two wild and crazy people, which Beijing seems to bring out in expatriates, and really are fun to hang out with and discuss life since we have a lot of the same views and the conversations are always lively and go on very strange tangents.

When Jill and I were about to leave China, Chris told me about Precis and I told him about my blog. Somehow I had forgotten to tell him, early on, and he said, “Dude, I need to have that in my magazine!”  I was honored and humbled  that he would want my stories and I immediately accepted.

Precis is now on its 6th issue and it is getting more and more press.

There are stories from people all over the world, including another friend of mine who runs an eco-resort in the Dominican Republic, and so much more.

I suggest you have a look at it, and my blogs, and you can see where my trip to Beijing started and how much I’ve changed, learned, traveled and realized about the world, myself, and how I was before Jill and I truly became a couple since we had only met about 2 weeks before these first few blog posts were written and I was still trying to get my bearings as I started a 1.5 year journey in a new country, at a new job, and with very little expectations or ideas of what was going to happen.



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 557 OUT OF Beijing: Precis Synchronicity.



Jill and I both grew up listening to The Police.

They had a fantastic album called Synchronicity.

Yes, I’m old, we had albums back then.

And cassette tapes.

And we had to walk up hill to school.

Both ways.

Without shoes.

Or with shoes made of cardboard.

And kids today just don’t understand how tough we had it.

But I digress.

As you all know, we left Beijing yesterday.

However, my friend, and amazingly talented person, Chris Stecher, just published Issue #5 of his online magazine, Precis.  His fantastic wife, Kat Tosi, encouraged him to start an online magazine and use his talents to make some thing very special.  He has accomplished that with style, grace and pure determination.

He used 3 of my blog posts in it and it actually was published the day we were leaving at 3 am.

The three posts are all from BEFORE I left the USA and were the “countdown” posts about moving to China.

They deal with saying goodbye, my dad’s growing dementia, and Leslie Mesones‘ doggies who I’ll also miss.

I have now said goodbye to everyone in China, landed in the USA, and am probably incredibly jet-lagged but happy beyond belief.

I write my blog posts in advance because I want to make sure I don’t miss any days.  So, I’ve now been home for a full day before this even goes out but I’m writing it on my last day, at 3 am, here in Beijing because I can’t sleep.

We will have left Beijing at 4 pm on Monday, December 15th.  We will have arrived in San Francisco at 5 pm on Monday, December 15th because of the time zone difference.  Synchronicity.

We’ll have traveled almost exactly the correct amount of time to take off and land at the same time on the same day.

It is almost like traveling in a time machine.

I’ll be posting about the flight and the landing soon enough.

For now, please do me a favor and read PRECIS and then go to the Facebook page and “like” it.  My posts are on page 19 and 20 but read it all.

Chris has done an amazing job with it and it his labor of love.

Please reward him and also comment about what you like.

His computer crashed 3 different times and he almost lost everything.  It was delayed for a week or so and he barely was able to get it all done.  I can’t believe how hard he worked and am so proud to be a part of this amazing magazine and to be his and Kat’s friend.

I’m blown away that I have an article published about my first getting ready to leave the USA and move to China on the exact day we are leaving China to come to the USA.

Precis Synchronicity.


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 555 In Beijing: SANTA CON!!!!



Me in front of one of my favorite sculptures.

Me in front of one of my favorite sculptures.


Jill and I did Santa Con last year in Beijing and had a blast.

We met a lot of people and made some amazing friends during it.

I also did Santa Con the year before I came to China, in San Francisco, and something like 5000-10000 people showed up.

Beijing rolls about 150-200 people deep but it is almost more fun because Santa Claus and Christmas is still a novelty here and people are really surprised and seem to enjoy a bunch of crazy laowai walking around and giving out candy and having fun on the streets.

Our friend, Federica, who is from a small town near Turin, Italy, wasn’t able to come out with us this year but posted a picture of herself wearing a santa costume on the Great Wall of China.  I can only imagine what the Chinese nationals out there thought about it.  They probably laughed and loved it.  I know I would have.  Federica is hilarious and one of our closest buddies.  She’s also in the first picture above this post.

We hung out with our friends Barbara and Patrick most of the time.  Barbara is from Brazil and Patrick is from Cape Verde.  They met here and have fallen in love and are a super cute couple.  We love hanging out with them because they have such positive attitudes and also want to travel the world and see what is out there.  Barbara is also an awesome salsa dancer and Patrick is great at dancing kizomba and merengue.

We also hung out with our friend Rachel, who is in the picture below with Jill, who flew up from Hong Kong just to hang out with us this weekend.  We call Rachel, “Our daughter” because she is 26 and we feel like she is our kid.  She’s actually third generation Beijing-ren (ren means person) and moved to Hong Kong for work about 3 months ago.  We met at a Jing A beer and food pairing at The Big Smoke a while back and became fast friends immediately.

We hit about 6 different bars and ended up at our favorites, The Local and Jing A Taproom.  On our way, we stopped by The Big Smoke and passed by Beijing Sideways, which is a tour company where you can rent motorcycles, with sidecars attached, and do tours of Beijing, China and who knows where else.  Someone hired them to ride all the way from Beijing to Paris, if memory serves correctly.  One of my friends, Moeava, used to work there and is setting up the same company in Tokyo.

That is the part of Beijing that Jill and I truly love: Meeting so many people, from all over, that have such different attitudes and ideas on how to live life.  We enjoy being excited by their new ideas, their willingness to take a chance and their desire to try something new.  The Jing A guys, Kris and Alex, are perfect examples of this:  Kris Li worked at Cisco and Alex Acker worked at Ogilvy and Apple.  About 3 years ago, they started home brewing out of one of their bathrooms.  Then they built up and became more popular.  The owner of The Big Smoke, Kris Ryan, asked if they wanted to build their brewery in his restaurant and they agreed.  Just about 4 months ago, Kris Li and Alex started their own restaurant, the Jing A Taproom, and it has been a huge success.  It has been wonderful to watch them learn, grow and strive to be their own people and not just stay stuck in an “easy” career or life.  Alex also got married to the amazing Ashley while we were here and we’ve been able to celebrate their new life together as we’ve seen it grow.

We’ve made so many friends, in just 1.5 years, it is hard to believe.  However, that is why we love traveling and being out there: There are always adventures to be had and places to see.  We’ve seen so many of our friends make these amazing choices and live lives of adventure.

I wonder what adventure is next for us?


Day 436 In Beijing: Galata Tower.


The view from the Galata Tower.

The view from the Galata Tower.

Jill’s and my true vacation, and about 100 future blog posts, starts now.

We woke up, had a nice breakfast in the little cafe right around the corner from Andac’s apartment, and headed out to see the Galata Tower, or, Galata Kulesi if you want to see the Turkish name for it.  It used to be called Galatea, which is Gaelic, because the Welsh people originally settled there, built it, and named it.

Jill had been here before, since she’s now been to Turkey 4 different times to my 1, and she thought it would be a good starting point for our adventures.

We walked in and paid for our tickets.

I think it was about 9 USD or something like that.

It was worth 100x that for the view alone.

We went in the elevator and headed up.

The elevator was empty so we took a few pictures and I loved how the elevator buttons were set into a replica of the tower.

When we reached the top, we walked up a flight of stairs, and then out onto the tower ledge.

It was truly amazing.

There were only a few other people there so we had it almost to ourselves.

The Galata Tower was originally built in 1348 and is about 200 feet tall.  The walls are about 9 feet thick.  Just stop and think of that.  It is almost 700 years old.  But that is nothing compared to what we will see later on during our vacation.  It is truly mind blowing to think of the history and what has happened in this part of the world.

It was used to make sure the city wasn’t attacked and also for a few crazy inventors to jump off of with either a glider on their back or strapped to a rocket.  I imagine Wyl E. Coyote would have approved of this idea. Supposedly, both inventors survived and proved their products were reliable.  Have to be impressed with their salesmanship if not their sense of sanity.

It was a truly wonderful way to start the day and see so much of Istanbul in one simple tower.

We stayed up there for an hour or so and just breathed in the fresh air, watched the seagulls, and remembered what it felt like to be alive, free, and have the world at our feet.

After 7 months in China, we had forgotten a lot about ourselves.

We had become somewhat unhealthy, both physically and mentally, and both seemed to be coming alive again.

Just the feeling of the people, the culture, the architecture, the country, and the ease of everything was settling back in and it felt like we were home.

Jill had lived in Turkey for 3 months, at one time, and I’d visited for 3 weeks, and it seemed like everything was just right the second we arrived.

That feeling would continue for the next month and only become more evident and more true.


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Day 435 In Beijing: The Alpha And The Omega.


The sun sets over Santorini. And over our life changing trip to Turkey and Greece.


I really don’t want to write this blog post.

It means that Jill and I have left Turkey and Greece and are headed back to Beijing.

In every way we feel as if we shouldn’t leave.

The friendliness of the people.

The amazing tasting, and healthy, food.

The cleanliness.

The lack of pollution and crushing crowds.

The ease of getting from one place to another.

The ability to quickly learn the basics of two different languages and connect with so many people.

The amount of different cultures intertwined and accepting of each other.

At some point, these countries will be our home.

We both feel like we have finally come home even though we were born in the USA.

I will be posting, over the next month or two, our full travelogue in Turkey and Greece.

There will be many pictures, many stories, and many wonderful experiences.

At this point, however, I am deeply saddened to be leaving and don’t want to even start blogging because it means that it has ended.

The closest I can remember to feeling this way was one time when I was returning from a trip to New York City after seeing my mom‘s art show at a gallery.

I was flying back to San Francisco in a plane loaded with passengers.

I can’t remember every feeling so alone.

I started to cry.

Not because I was sad but because of the amazing humanity, kindness and connection that I had felt on this trip.

It was just after 9/11 and people in New York were so kind and loving that it blew me away.

I wrote 5 pages of notes, on the flight, and still have them in my storage boxes back in the USA.

I’ll post them when I get a chance to find them on a visit home someday.

I know people think New Yorkers are rude, but they aren’t.

They just don’t suffer fools lightly.

If you are lost, and want help, they will be there in a second.  Just don’t stand in the middle of the sidewalk and block everyone else.

Honestly, I respect this and that they have places to be, lives to live, and things to do.

People in Turkey and Greece are the same way.

They help you whenever you need it and constantly amazed me at their laughter, happiness, and joy about life and living it.

This is what being in Turkey and Greece also brought out in Jill and me.

We remembered how to be happy, carefree, and safe.

Most of all, we felt like we fit in.

It was a wonderful feeling and I almost don’t want to see any of it end as we get ready to pack up our belongings and get on a plane flight back to Beijing.

By the time you read this blog post, we will have landed, and been in Beijing for a a few hours.

Give us a little time, and we’ll be fine, but right now, it is hard.

Day 432 In Beijing: Getting Ready For Vacation!


Getting ready to go on vacation to Turkey and Greece!

Getting ready to go on vacation to Turkey and Greece!

The day had finally arrived.

We were OUT OF HERE!

Trust me, we needed it.

I absolutely love my job and wanted to make sure I didn’t start suffering from burn out and Jill has her own website SF TOURISM TIPS and works incredibly hard on it.

As you may know, the internet in China leaves much to be desired.

It seems to come and go, depending on the whims of some unknown entity, and this makes it quite difficult to be able to keep working on a website that requires a lot of detail, information and access to the USA.

We are essentially blocked from using Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, unless we are on our Virtual Private Network (VPN) and the VPN is much slower than our usual internet feed here in China.

In other words, we needed a break and we needed it now.

We got it.

We got ready for our flight and already were feeling relaxed.

We said our final goodbye to our dear friend, Gulzar, and jumped on the bus.  We took it two stops and headed for the Airport Express Subway.

It is a fairly new subway line and only has 3 stops total.

It costs about 5 bucks each to go 45 minutes so it is a heck of a deal.

After we arrive at the airport, we hung out and just relaxed.

We spent a lot of time talking about Jill’s website, as that is going to be how we fund our world travels and live the life we want.

This is going to happen in a few years but we are very much into planning and making sure things work out, as much as possible, how we set them.

Jill has been working on her site for over 4 years and I’ve been editing and helping her with ideas since we met.

It is, to be honest, her baby and I’m just helping but it is becoming more and more of a team effort each day.

It may seem strange, since I have a blog that I update every day, but I don’t like writing factual stories based on research.  I enjoy writing fiction and making stories come alive (although, as far as I know, everything I’ve written on this blog is absolutely true).

So, Jill writes her website and I edit it and it seems we make a great team.

In so many ways since we also make a great team traveling, supporting each other emotionally and financially, and in pretty much every other way I can imagine a couple would want to support each other.

i’m not sure if you’ve traveled with your partner, but if you haven’t, you will learn much more about each other, in a week or two, than you will in years of living a stable life at home.

I think this is because each choice, moment and change happens so quickly, and so often, that you quickly learn how the other reacts, how they think, and what their strengths and weaknesses are without having to wait years for a stressful event.

Jill and I have been to Shanghai, Mongolia, Malaysia and Singapore twice and we met only 8 days before I left for China.  She arrived 1.5 months later without knowing anyone other than me here.  And she only truly knew me through emails, my blog, and Skype.

Talk about a leap of faith.

We both believe deeply in planning while also living in the present.