Is it already the end of 2021?! I feel like this year flew by quickly, especially in contrast to 2020. It’s unbelievable that it’s been almost two years since COVID-19 hit and threw this world into a crazy tilt-a-whirl.
In China, like much of the rest of the world, we’ve adapted to a new normal. We still wear masks on public transportation, have our health code APPs we need to show in public places like malls, airports, and business buildings, and new lock downs will occur from time to time in various areas of the country when new cases pop up. With the approach of the Beijing 2022 Olympics it seems that Beijing will face strict regulations until it passes.
But, I digress! I have so much to be thankful for this year. Since I’ve started blogging in 2015, I try to do a monthly breakdown for my yearly blog review, but this year decided to do if differently and focus on different aspects of my life and what I’ve been doing in Beijing. There were a few months were travel was restricted in China when new cases reemerged, but in between those times I was able to travel quite a bit.
First: my year of 2021 in 10 seconds
Culture & Travel Video Hosting
Right at the start of January this year I started my new job as a travel video host for China Plus. (The previous company I worked for, Career China, shut down due to coronavirus. Job hunting and visa arrangements are never fun, but doing that during a pandemic adds an extra layer of stress!) I host live stream videos, film and edit vlogs, and host various travel documentary series related to culture and travel in China. It has been BUSY and in many ways much different than I thought it would be, but really exciting to do more of what I love: seeing the culture and people and places of China up close. I have opportunities to actually meet and learn about people from different backgrounds, cities, and walks of life in China and help tell their stories.
Hubei Culture and Travel Series
A big project this year was hosting a travel documentary video series with 5 episodes about culture in Hubei Province: the videos focus on the city of Wuhan, the rich cultural heritage of the Yangtze river basin, the minority people in Hubei (the Tujia people and Miao people), the Three Gorges and Three Gorges Dam, and the Wudang Mountain martial arts such as Kung Fu and Taiji. Oftentimes I get so busy on these film trips that I don’t have time to write about them – but they are quite incredible, challenging, surprising, exhausting, and rewarding film experiences that I really should share about. Only two videos have been released so far (the others are still in post-production phase).
Read my posts about 2 of my favorite places we visited in Hubei:
Music Voyage in Sichuan: July 2021
I also went to the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan and spent two weeks seeing some of the villages and small towns right on the border of Tibet for a program called “Music Voyage.” I co-hosted a few live-streams featuring local and international musicians: Live: A Taste of Tibetan Melody.
First I was in Xinduqiao Town in Kanding: Photographer’s Paradise of Sichuan and then next I was in doing Tibetan Dancing and Xianzi Instruments in Litang County, Sichuan.
Chongqing Trip October 2021
I was also briefly in Chongqing for 5 days for a few vlogs and live-stream videos. I got to ride a horse for one of them which was pretty epic! I also got hot pot with some friendswho happened to also be in Chongqing.
Beijing City Guide Vlogs
When I’m not traveling, I’m filming in Beijing for a series called “Beijing City Guide” where I bring the best of the Beijing city to you!I Having lived in Beijing for 3 years, this is a really fun way to show the activities, food, and unique features there are in Beijing and what my life here is actually like. I pitch the ideas then film and edit these videos by myself. I’ve filmed about all kinds of topics from jianbing, tuktuk tours, speakeasy bars, the best rooftops in Beijing, murder mystery events, and more.
Date Night China: Media Platform and Events Organization
In 2019 I co-founded a podcast called Date Night China, which has expanded to become a media platform and events organization here in Beijing. This is a really exciting project because of the opportunity to meet people and dive into their experiences not only with dating and relationships, but also with mental health, culture shock, and different human experiences of living abroad in China. I co-founded this with Nathan (who I’ve now been dating for a year and a half ;)) and our other partner is Michelle, a great friend I’ve known since I moved to Beijing.
Our goal is to share these stories in an insightful, thought-provoking way, and also to help people connect with each other. Beijing is a big city, and living as an expat abroad isn’t always easy. We’ve organized so many events like scavenger hunts, cinema nights, single’s mixers, and formals to create fun and interesting ways to meet new people. This year has been a huge growth year for us, with more followers on our WeChat platform, 3 WeChat groups, sponsorship support, media collaborations, and more.
We recently ran a Mind Body Soul Workshop, inviting mental health professionals in the Beijing community to lead presentations and discussions related to healthier well-being and relationships. Mental health has been on my mind a lot this year, like it has been for many people after COVID hit. People are looking for deeper ways to connect and share, and we are hoping to host more of these events. I’m really grateful and proud of this community we have built, and really excited for what will happen next!.
You can follow Date Night China on WeChat to learn more about our upcoming events and articles – and you don’t need to be in Beijing to be part of the community.
Rachel Meets China
Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been as active in writing and publishing here on my website, or even posting on Instagram. After reading the paragraphs above this might make sense 😉 Rachel Meets China is still here and near and dear to my heart, but my writing and love for people and culture has been outpouring in different ways this year. But don’t worry, I’m still here, I still have more traveling to do and more experiences to share in China – I’m not going anywhere.
This year has been a bit of a transition year for me, weirdly enough even more so than last year with COVID. I think many changes slowly happened for me, and I’m wrapping my mind around what I want to focus on and what my bigger goals are. It’s been 6 years since I’ve moved to China. When I first came here I was a new graduate and I had no experience traveling alone. China is where I rented my first apartment, started my own brand and collaborated with many organizations, had my first professional job in my career field. After three city moves, lots of traveling, transitioning from teaching to media, and becoming part of so many great communities and circles of people, it’s exciting to look back at what this crazy adventure in China has been. And the party goes on! Thanks for following me through these years, and I promise I will have more here.
Other Highlights of 2021:
I’ve had many other amazing and wonderful moments this year! Here in Beijing I have a wonderful group of people to share life with. We do holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, festivals, and weekend trips in Beijing to get out of the city. There are also so many great communities here in Beijng to connect with.
I also celebrated one year with the best British guy on May 23. Nathan is the most incredible person – so creative, supportive, kind, and hilarious. He’s a visionary, and loves helping people with whatever media projects they bring to him. He’s my rock, my partner, and my best friend (and a great Instagram boyfriend when I need him to be hehe). We started Date Night China together just as friends, and our relationship has grown so much in the last two years since then! I feel so lucky to do life with him.
Lows of 2021
Of course one of the biggest lows is not being able to go home and see my family again. With the difficulties of border restrictions, quarantine rules in China, changing travel rules, and expensive flights (that often get cancelled), I wasn’t able to go home this year. I usually would try to go home around Christmas time, so not going home for almost two years is hard.
In August I spent two days in the hospital for a procedure – while it wasn’t fun, everything went smoothly (procedure-wise and also being in a hospital in China, as that can be a stressful experience). So maybe this isn’t a low, but more of something I feel grateful for.
Goodbye 2021 and Hello 2022
I hope you all made it through 2021, all the challenges and new experiences and transitions! I’m looking forward to 2022 and what the next year will bring. Thank you, as always, for your support and following my adventures in China!