July 2017 Month In Review

We’re back from a short summer break, and what a difference it makes.

It’s nice to leave phones and cameras at home, and just hang out. Over the course of a week in the States, I had plenty of time to cuddle the baby nephew, I dealt with jet lag by binge watching Netflix at 4am, and our growing family (now with the 7 original members plus 4 partners plus 1 baby) still enjoys spending time together, which is always a good thing.

Here’s what July looked like!

Where We’ve Been:

Julie – China: Shenzhen 25 days, Hangzhou 2 days, USA: Indiana, 4 days

Drew – China: Shenzhen 17 days, USA: Florida 10 days, Indiana, 4 days


  • Our paperwork is complete! Around the middle of July, we got our residency permits for China and I got my final work visa the following week. We will write one final post in our visa acquisition series (see Part 1 and Part 2), but what a relief it is to be done for now. To provide some perspective, we got the first email regarding our visa documentation on March 20th, and we had the final documents in hand the afternoon of July 21st.
  • Hong Kong or bust! We live deliciously close to Hong Kong – the airport is a 30 minute ferry ride and we can be in Central in less than an hour. But while our visas were being finalized, we weren’t able to leave the China mainland. The day we finally went to Hong Kong (to meet up with UK friends) was a sweet day indeed.
  • Home Sweet Home. In addition to attending a family reunion and seeing both of our immediate families, we got our fill of Netflix (I finished Breaking Bad, finally!), ate more than our fair share of American food and went a little nuts at Target. I just really like Lysol cleaning spray, okay? And we got four bottles of gluten-free soy sauce which we have yet to locate in China. Oh, and Drew went skeet shooting with his family. The family that shoots together, stays together, right?
  • A Good ‘Ole County Fair. Nothing says America like a county in Indiana, complete with the livestock competitions, an endless supply of fried food, and an amateur wrestling match. Keeping it classy. My favorite moment? Seeing a gaggle of young kids racing their chickens across a wooden beam.


  • A weird night in Hangzhou. Read all about it here.
  • Our summer bucket list is suffering. While we’ve done a good job getting out of town, we have a long list of Shenzhen activities and restaurants to get to if we have any chance of success by Labor Day.
  • The heat. Our brief time in the US reminded us just how hot it is here. The actual temperature isn’t too different than a Florida summer, but the humidity is killer. We’ve been back in China for two days and have been literally dripping in sweat since we arrived. Yesterday when we were walking to the grocery store we talked exclusively about how it really is hotter here, right? We’re not just imagining it? It feels like it is. It must be.

What We’re Loving Lately

  • So much TV to report on. I adored The Handmaid’s Tale, I finally made it through Breaking Bad, Big Little Lies (the HBO series), and the second season of The Affair. All get a ‘thumbs up’ except for The Affair which is an interesting concept but the characters are increasingly less likable. So there’s that.
  • Target. It really is the best.
  • My new iPhone. I had a crappy old phone for many years in the States/UK. When we knew we were heading to Asia, I thought I would get a new Chinese phone, one of the cool local brands I heard about. But it turns out I don’t really understand Android OS. And I can’t download all of the apps I want because the phone is Chinese and has access to only the Chinese app store. And the apps are all Chinese, too. It was a hassle, so I went to Hong Kong and got a new phone. One that actually does everything I want. In English.

Coming Up in August

We’ve made it back to Shenzhen, and we will be here most of the month, with a few small detours to:

  • Macau – the Asian answer to Las Vegas, and only an hour ferry ride away, we’re checking out how the serious gamblers roll this coming weekend. We’ve booked a night at a super luxe hotel, and have dinner planned at a place with a dress code. Macau has this interesting cultural mix of Chinese and Portuguese, and its own currency and cuisine, so we’ll do our best to explore and not get too sucked into the roulette tables.
  • Hong Kong – We’ll definitely head back to HK one of these weekends, probably for dim sum, maybe to try a crazy ice cream concoction we’ve seen online.
  • Guangzhou – A night or two in GZ isn’t out of the question, work + fun, per usual.

It’s been a busy month, but as always, we have more fun and exciting things to come. Stay tuned!