China Brews

China isn’t really known for their beer and it is obvious why at the first sip. Now, that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy my beer in China, because I absolutely did. I enjoyed it the same way I enjoy a refreshing Coors Light. Sometimes I just really want a Coors Light, sue me.

China isn’t really known for their beer and it is obvious why at the first sip. Now, that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy my beer in China, because I absolutely did. I enjoyed it the same way I enjoy a refreshing Coors Light. Sometimes I just really want a Coors Light, sue me.

My favorite brew of China was Guilin Liquan’s 1998 LiQ beer. It was very smooth, refreshing, and a great price at only ¥10 ($1.55). I would also put Guilin Liquan as my favorite brewer in China. I tried two of their crafts. I couldn’t taste much of a difference between the two, but they were both better than the others I had.

On our last couple of days in China, we bunked with a Chinese brewer at the hostel. He was in the middle of a brewery tour in Chengdu. He gave us a list of places to try and talked to us about the growing micro-brew culture in China and how he sees it around the world. It was super interesting to talk to him and we are looking forward to our next trip to Chengdu to check out the breweries he suggested.

I only got a taste for the flavors around me. Please share your favorite China beers in the comments, and if you’re an Untappd user, add us as friends!

Top UnTappd Badges Earned This Month


Brew Update – China

New China Flavors: 9

 New China Breweries: 8

Flavor Life List: 51


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Beijing Yanjing Brewery – Beijing, China

  • Yanjing Beer North American Adjunct

China Resources Snow Breweries – Beijing, China

  • Snow Beer 8.0 P Lager

Harbin Brewing – Harbin, China

  • Harbin Beer Pale

Master Gao Craft – Nanjing, China

  • Baby IPA

Panda Brew – China

  • Outlaw Witbier

Shandong Hande Brewing Co. – China

  • Baishi Royale Lager

Tsingdao Brewery – Qingdao, China

  • Tsingtao Pale

Yanjing Pijiu (Guilin Liquan) – Guilin, China

  • 1998 LiQ American Light
  • 10P LiQ North American Adjunct

Budget – January 2018

I feel pretty good about our first overseas month. We did not achieve our goal budget nor were we able to offset it enough with our income. However, I think we learned a lot and are ready for the challenge that February brings. 

There seem to be a bazillion nomad bloggers out there talking about how cheap it is to travel, but very few are open about their finances. We’ve gotten quite a few questions about how we can afford to travel full-time, so we’ve decided to open up the books and do a monthly post with the details of our budget. The hope is that these posts will help prepare others who are thinking about jumping into the nomad life, and help us re-assess our spending habits. Enjoy!


Our goal budget for this journey is $200 per week, putting us at $1,000 to spend for the month of January.

We did not live a life of the rich and famous, but we didn’t go without either. China is quite suitable for $800 per month for two people.

  • Average Daily Food Cost: $10
    • Includes three meals, one cup of coffee, and two cans of soda or beer.
  • Average Daily Lodging: $12
    • 1/3 of the month in a hostel dorm and 2/3 in a private room.
    • Includes WiFi with VPN, English speaking front desk, and free water.

Money Spent: $1,534

Income: $305

Overall Net: – ($1,229)


Week One Net: -($507)

We had a difficult start to the month with a number of unexpected expenses, along with the travel expense to Guilin (which was planned as a temporary overage). It’s been much colder here than we anticipated, and therefore needed to purchase jackets. The AirBnB apartments I had picked out for our time in Guilin didn’t have heaters in them, so I ended up booking a slightly more expensive hotel for us to stay at. And Josh had some technical issues that required a purchase of Microsoft Office. We spent $507.

Due to Josh’s technical issues, we were unable to make any money to offset the expenditures. We made $0.

Week Two Net: -($123)

Week two was much more acceptable. The big purchase of the week was tickets to the Seven Star Park at $17 each. We spent $138.

Josh was very excited to have a desk to work at and immediately took on some jobs on UpWork. They each take a while to pay out, but he was able to get a quick article written for a client. We made $16.

Week Three Net: -($95)

Our major purchases for the week were a cruise to Yangshuo for $24, new hair clippers for Josh for $20, and birthday breakfast for me at Starbucks for $12. We ended the week spending a tiny bit over budget. We spent $209.

Josh really got into the swing of things this week, with plenty of time to write and only a couple of hours a day for UpWork. Those couple of hours earned him an article on CannaHealth and a job writing biology lesson plans for a charter school. We made $114.

Week Four Net: -($106)

We transitioned from Guilin to Yangshuo this week; normally that would mean the purchase of train tickets, but in this case we used the Li river cruise tour bus as our transportation. The food in Yangshuo is a little more expensive than Guilin, cutting into our meal budget a bit. Still, our only big purchase of the week was the advance payment of our private room for the next week at $99. We still wrapped up the week slightly over budget. We spent $256.

Josh edited a CV for a client and wrote another CannaHealth article, collecting us $145 for the week. The USD and CNY conversion dropped this week, which was a bit of a bummer. The earned $145 gives us ¥927 to spend in China, but last week, the same $145 would have given us ¥943. A ¥16 difference isn’t much, but amounts to a six pack of beer, 8 trips on the bus, or a large breakfast for two.

In some exciting news, I made $4.66 through my Amazon links! Thank you guys so much for using my link to buy your Amazon.com eGift Cards!! We made $149.

Week Five Net: -($321)

This was another good week. We watched our spending a little more closely and were able to spend more of our time hiking since the sun finally came out. Our big purchases of the week were train tickets to Chengdu at $125.

As it is the first month of the year, we also had a couple of subscriptions come due that we had forgotten about ($15 for New York Times and $95 for our Visa annual fee). We spent $341.

It was a slow week for work, pulling in only $20 on UpWork. We made $20.


This is our first month overseas, and overall I feel OK about it. We did not achieve our goal budget, nor were we able to offset it enough with our income. However, I think we learned a lot and are ready for the challenge that February brings!

Guangxi, China Birding – January 2018

The birding in Guangxi was awesome despite the cold. I am particularly excited that each bird I found was a new addition to my life list.

The birding in Guangxi this month was awesome despite the cold. I lived next door to a farm, so it was easy to spend time after breakfast each day watching the backyard birds. Without my usual apps I had a hard time identifying them all, but with the help of my friends on Reddit, I was able to get most of them.

I do not include caged birds on my Life List, but I do enjoy going to Aviaries and, in China’s case, the market(!). It was difficult to see the treatment of these animals, but it was interesting to see the variety of birds available for both food and friend.

20180123_124806

My favorite bird of the month was the Blyth’s Kingfisher. I saw two different kingfishers in two different towns. Each time, they allowed me to get close enough for a halfway decent picture. One was spotted just off of a busy street. I got some very strange looks for stopping in the middle of traffic to get out my binoculars and camera, but after some bilingual charades, I made it clear that I was after the birds.

I am particularly excited that all seven of the birds I identified this month were new additions to my life list. I have caught a Kingfisher and Night Heron before, but never a Blyth’s Kingfisher or Chinese-Pond Heron. This one month added quite a few more birds to my list. All in all, it was a good month for birding.


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Birding Update – January 2018

Identified: 7

New: 7

Life List: 96


  • Blyth’s Kingfisher
  • Chinese-Pond Heron
  • Collared Crow
  • Common Stonechat
  • Crested Myna
  • Daurian Redstart
  • White Wagtail

 

Bird Watching in Guangxi, China – January 2018

The birding in Guangxi was awesome despite the cold. I am particularly excited that each bird I found was a new addition to my life list.

Birding in Guangxi was awesome despite the cold. I lived next door to a farm, so it was easy to spend time after breakfast each day watching the backyard birds. Without my usual apps I had a hard time identifying them all, but with the help of my friends on Reddit, I was able to get most of them.

Check out the beautiful guest house we stayed in while in Yangshuo. ♥

Bird Watching

I do not include caged birds on my Life List, but I do enjoy going to Aviaries and, in China’s case, the market(!). It was difficult to see the treatment of these animals, but it was interesting to see the variety of birds available for both food and friend.

20180123_124806

My favorite bird of the month was the Blyth’s Kingfisher. I saw two different kingfishers in two different towns. Each time, they allowed me to get close enough for a halfway decent picture. One was spotted just off of a busy street. I got some very strange looks for stopping in the middle of traffic to get out my binoculars and camera, but after some bilingual charades, I made it clear that I was after the birds.

I am particularly excited that all seven of the Chinese birds I identified this month were new additions to my life list. I have caught a Kingfisher and Night Heron before, but never a Blyth’s Kingfisher or Chinese-Pond Heron. This one month added quite a few more birds to my list. All in all, it was a good month for birding.

January’s Birding List

Birds Identified: 7

New Birds: 7

Life List: 96


 

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Adventures With Jen – Guilin

Not every adventure can be epic, so here is a montage of some of my less than totally awesome Adventures With Jen.

After breakfast, the routine is for me to take a shower, then either spend some time doing research or hit the street for an adventure. Besides for the Fubo Mountain hike, most of my adventures haven’t been blog worthy. Not every adventure can be epic, so here is a montage of some of my less-than-totally-awesome Adventures With Jen:

One adventure I was particularly excited about was the Bird and Flower Market, located a little ways Northeast from where we are staying. Unfortunately, when I arrived, I found there was nothing particularly special about it. It was more of a collection of plant and pet shops. As with any pet shop, some were nice and I could tell the animals were loved and well taken care of. Others (most) were quite difficult to see, with cages packed to the brim with birds or tanks so full of fish that they were constantly getting flicked out by other fish.

The most noteworthy part of the walk happened while I passed a middle eastern food truck. I, of course, walked by just as the stall worker decided to kill a large sheep right in the middle of the sidewalk. I have a good appreciation and understanding of how my food is made, but I’m not sure if I will ever get used to seeing the moment of passing right before my eyes. Not the best way to end an adventure.

I caught Josh’s cold the following morning and was pretty well bedridden. I still got up for meals, though, and went for short walks through some side streets near the hotel to get some air. I particularly enjoyed one walk where we stumbled across the wholesale food market.

20180117_133800

I love looking at all of the interesting fruits and vegetables, the dried herbs, and the variety of meats. As someone who has had a food handler’s card for the last 20 years, I also find the food safety to be quite… interesting. Meats are stored on the same table as vegetables, and fruit baskets may or may not be stored directly on the ground. It is a nice reminder of just how resilient to germs the human body can be.

20180117_133854
The variety of fresh meat is so interesting to look at.

After a couple of days, I was feeling better and back on the road. I spent most of my time researching and filming a walking tour (get excited), but I did take a break to hit another new stop: The Botanical Garden.

Guilin’s Botanical Garden is located at the South end of town and costs ¥32, but apparently that only applies to me. I watched everyone else just walk through the gate. They didn’t flash a pass to the guard or anything, they simply walked in like it was no big thing. I, of course, got stopped and was forced to pay. This is one of the few times being a foreigner in China didn’t pay off.

As a garden, I would say the place was pretty “meh”. It did make for a decent park, though. It was quite large and had quiet little hide-outs all over the place for people to be loud in… yes, that is what I meant to say. Everywhere I went, there was a little courtyard or hidden picnic bench with someone either practicing the trumpet, singing into a microphone (with the speaker turned on full blast, of course), dancing to loud music, or jamming with their friends. I do have to admit, it was the perfect place to find a quiet spot and fill it with noise.

20180117_112841
The “European Garden” was much quieter and filled mostly with exercisers.

I would guess the place is quite nice and full of flowers in the summer time, but in the middle of January, it mostly just looked like bushes to me. I did enjoy the long walk through the park, and managed to get in some people watching and bird spotting.

20180117_115343
A lone Koi fish heading upstream to visit a child throwing crackers.

 

My favorite thing to do in Guilin was to walk along the rivers. I walked at least four miles per day while we were there, and most days it was done along one of the many rivers or lakes. Where the rivers run through the city, there are beautifully decorated water-side paths. I really enjoyed checking out the variety of bridges, the excitement of the tourists (mostly from other cities around China), and watching the occasional fisherman. If it wasn’t for the air pollution, I would guess these river walks would make amazing river runs.

20180118_142356

Also, have I mentioned we’re famous? There are still many Chinese people who have either never seen or met a foreigner. We are still a pretty rare sight outside of Shanghai and Beijing. We get a lot of stares and children shouting “Look, foreigners!” On some rare occasions, we even get asked for pictures… which usually leads to more people asking for pictures… which turns into a full-on paparazzi moment. It is a little weird, but kind of fun.

20180118_143522

So there you have it, my less than successful but still noteworthy adventures in Guilin! I really enjoyed it there and feel so lucky to have had the chance to live somewhere so beautiful and full of adventure. Stay tuned for the next installment of Adventures with Jen!

The Journey of a Lifetime: Li River Cruise Part Three

The final installment of my journey of a lifetime along the Li River.

I apologize for keeping you all waiting. I know how you feel. After years of dreaming, weeks of planning, and hours of being shuffled around, I was dying to get on this Li River cruise! In the last installment, we were nine hours in to our six hour Li River Cruise. Finally, we were loading onto the boat, given the cryptic instructions, “You, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.”

Catch up on Part One or Part Two ♥

4:30PM The Li River Cruise

We piled into the boat and found that the only remaining seats available were numbered one through six. Ahhh… we are seats “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6”. That made a lot more sense. We took a seat facing the Germans around a small square table. Contrary to what we had been promised, the tables were not covered by lovely white tablecloths, nor were the picture windows very large. No, the windows and the tables can be described using the same adjectives: small, dirty, a little sticky. So, par for the course, really.

I was not going to let my travel agent’s broken promises bring me down. I saw those mountains from afar and I knew I was finally having the moment I had been dreaming of for all of these years. So I held my head high, remained patient, and waited for our Li River Cruise to begin.

I remained patient while the hostess requested that we stay in our seats for 30 minutes. I was patient when the lovely scenery was passing me by in a blur of days old spit and condensation. I was patient when we stopped the boat after only five minutes of sailing so that we could all cram to the front of the boat and stand in line while every single passenger got their picture taken with the staged fishermen and the power line-littered scenery.

20180122_154334
The best shot I could get… with strangers in the photo, a boat with a beggar on it asking for money, another boat making the same stop, and a guy smoking a cigarette. Cool cormorants, though.

5:00PM – Waiting Is

The scenery continued to blur by while the other passengers ate or played on their phones. The hostess stood up front and showed us the various picture opportunities we were going to have and how much she would happily charge us for said pictures.

Josh was not very happy with me, but I forced him to ask the hostess again if we could go outside. My patience was at an end, and I was ready to throw a bitch overboard if I didn’t get my amazing pictures!

5:15PM – The Adventure of a Lifetime

And then it happened. The doors opened and everyone rushed outside to view the scenery we had been dying to see. I got elbowed in the face as I walked up the stairs, but I had no time for pain. This was my moment.

I stepped onto the roof of the boat with everyone else and felt the floor buckle. No shits were given. I would see this view if it meant I had to do it with my butt in the river. This was my moment!

20180122_162321

And so I took a million and one pictures of the beautiful scenery with a foreground full of heads. Everyone was excited and pushing to get the best views. A child ran around throughout the entire boat ride playing with a wooden slide whistle. But I didn’t care. This was my adventure of a lifetime and I was going to make the most of it.

20180122_163313
When life gives you lemons, make jokes.

Shortly after being allowed to go outside, the boat turned around and headed back upstream. There was another meal call and most of the Chinese tourists went back downstairs to demolish their snacks. This left me wondering where we were going, but also with a view nearly all to myself. This was my moment, and it was worth the wait.

20180122_162343.jpg

20180122_164805.jpg

20180122_170659
When we can see the air, we wear masks.

The view from my Li River cruise was everything I dreamed it would be, with hills layered for miles and foreign looking bamboo forests peeking around the stone cliffs. It truly was amazing.

7:00PM – Trip to Yangshuo

This chapter was supposed to be about our stop in adorable Xingping. Nope! Once again, our expectations were thrown aside. We never ended up going to Yangdi. The bus dropped us off in crummy-old Xingping and our boat cruise took us on an extremely slow, 90 minute round-trip ride. At least that meant I didn’t lose my backpack.

The tour guide asked if we were going to be riding the bus out of Xingping. I told him that we were and expected to be dropped off in Yangshuo. He nodded his impatient nod and let us back on the bus. The ride to Yangshuo was pretty quick and pleasant. All of the Chinese tourists were in a great mood, singing songs and munching on their purchased snacks. I enjoyed the music and the time to review my photos.

We made a couple of stops at who knows where to drop various people off. Finally, as the bus was about to leave from one of the stops, our tour guide jumped up in excitement and yelled for us to get off the bus. “Yangshuo! Yangshuo! You go Yangshuo! Here!” We got off at a gas station on the far end of town.

I had done quite a bit of research about the best way to get to the hotel from the bus station (where I was told we would be dropped off) so we, once again, put on our smiles and just hoped for the best. Thankfully, it paid off.

8:00PM – Our Six Hour Tour Finally Ends

After walking only a couple of blocks in the general direction of the hotel, a taxi pulled up and offered us a ride. And by taxi, I mean a modified motorcycle with a makeshift trailer attached that was covered with plastic. The price was fair and our bags were really starting to feel heavy. We crushed ourselves into the back of the tiny trailer and were whisked away on a bumpy ride through the city. Josh and I both agreed it was the most adventurous and most fun thing we have done in a while. Despite my love for those mountains, the taxi ride was my favorite part of the whole day.

We made it to the hotel in excellent time and with only a few bumps and bruises for our trouble. The hotel is wonderful and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Check out our review of the Sudder Street Guesthouse in Yangshuo ♥

After 13 hours, we were pretty tired of our six hour Li River Cruise adventure. It was a long and difficult day. I would still recommend the trip to anyone who has a tolerance for China-Life, but would recommend booking only when you know exactly what you are going to get. Be patient and remember to have fun along the way, no matter what. I may not have gotten the “view of a lifetime” I was hoping for, but it was definitely an adventure I will never forget, a true Journey of a Lifetime.


 

The Journey of a Lifetime – Part 3

The final installment of my journey of a lifetime along the Li River.

I apologize for keeping you all waiting. I know how you feel. After years of dreaming, weeks of planning, and hours of being shuffled around, I was dying to get on this cruise! And in the last installment, we were finally loading onto the boat, given the cryptic instructions, “You, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.”

The Ride of a Lifetime

We piled into the boat and found that the only remaining seats available were numbered one through six. Ahhh… we are seats “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6”. That made a lot more sense. We took a seat facing the Germans around a small square table. Contrary to what we had been promised, the tables were not covered by lovely white tablecloths, nor were the picture windows very large. No, the windows and the tables can be described using the same adjectives: small, dirty, a little sticky. So, par for the course, really.

I was not going to let my travel agent’s broken promises bring me down. I saw those mountains from afar and I knew I was finally having the moment I had been dreaming of for all of these years. So I held my head high, remained patient, and waited for the cruise to begin.

I remained patient while the hostess requested that we stay in our seats for 30 minutes. I was patient when the lovely scenery was passing me by in a blur of days old spit and condensation. I was patient when we stopped the boat after only five minutes of sailing so that we could all cram to the front of the boat and stand in line while every single passenger got their picture taken with the staged fishermen and the power line-littered scenery.

20180122_154334
The best shot I could get… with strangers in the photo, a boat with a beggar on it asking for money, another boat making the same stop, and a guy smoking a cigarette. Cool cormorants, though.

Waiting Is

The scenery continued to blur by while the other passengers ate or played on their phones. The hostess stood up front and showed us the various picture opportunities we were going to have and how much she would happily charge us for said pictures.

Josh was not very happy with me, but I forced him to ask the hostess again if we could go outside. My patience was at an end, and I was ready to throw a bitch overboard if I didn’t get my amazing pictures!

The Adventure of a Lifetime

And then it happened. The doors opened and everyone rushed outside to view the scenery we had been dying to see. I got elbowed in the face as I walked up the stairs, but I had no time for pain. This was my moment.

I stepped onto the roof of the boat with everyone else and felt the floor buckle. No shits were given. I would see this view if it meant I had to do it with my butt in the river. This was my moment!

20180122_162321

And so I took a million and one pictures of the beautiful scenery with a foreground full of heads. Everyone was excited and pushing to get the best views. A child ran around throughout the entire boat ride playing with a wooden slide whistle. But I didn’t care. This was my adventure of a lifetime and I was going to make the most of it.

20180122_163313
When life gives you lemons, make jokes.

Shortly after being allowed to go outside, the boat turned around and headed back upstream. There was another meal call and most of the Chinese tourists went back downstairs to demolish their snacks. This left me wondering where we were going, but also with a view nearly all to myself. This was my moment, and it was worth the wait.

20180122_16574720180122_16234320180122_16524120180122_170132

20180122_170659
When we can see the air, we wear masks.

It was everything I dreamed it would be, with hills layered for miles and foreign looking bamboo forests peeking around the stone cliffs. It truly was amazing.

Trip to Yangshuo

This chapter was supposed to be about our stop in adorable Xingping. Nope! Once again, our expectations were thrown aside. We never ended up going to Yangdi. The bus dropped us off in crummy-old Xingping and our boat cruise took us on an extremely slow, 90 minute round-trip ride. At least that meant I didn’t lose my backpack.

The tour guide asked if we were going to be riding the bus out of Xingping. I told him that we were and expected to be dropped off in Yangshuo. He nodded his impatient nod and let us back on the bus. The ride to Yangshuo was pretty quick and pleasant. All of the Chinese tourists were in a great mood, singing songs and munching on their purchased snacks. I enjoyed the music and the time to review my photos.

We made a couple of stops at who knows where. Finally, as the bus was about to leave from one of the stops, our tour guide jumped up in excitement and yelled for us to get off the bus. “Yangshuo! Yangshuo! You go Yangshuo! Here!” We got off at a gas station on the far end of town.

I had done quite a bit of research about the best way to get to the hotel from the bus station (where I was told we would be dropped off), so we once again put on our smiles and just hoped for the best. Thankfully, it paid off.

After walking only a couple of blocks in the general direction of the hotel, a taxi pulled up and offered us a ride. And by taxi, I mean a modified motorcycle with a makeshift trailer attached that was covered with plastic. The price was fair and our bags were really starting to feel heavy. We crushed ourselves into the back of the tiny trailer and were whisked away on a bumpy ride through the city. Josh and I both agreed it was the most adventurous and most fun thing we have done in a while. Despite my love for those mountains, the taxi ride was my favorite part of the whole day.

Final Wrap Up

We made it to the hotel in excellent time and with only a few bumps and bruises for our trouble. The hotel is wonderful and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

It was a long and difficult day. I would still recommend the trip to anyone who has a tolerance for China-Life, but would recommend booking only when you know exactly what you are going to get. Be patient and remember to have fun along the way, no matter what. I may not have gotten the “view of a lifetime” I was hoping for, but it was definitely an adventure I will never forget, a true Journey of a Lifetime.