Ery Restaurant Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam)

31 Jan 2018

I’m generally a big fan of traditional Japanese food, but I left my reservations at the door and tried the new Japanese-fusion restaurant in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam called Ery, located at The Myst Dong Khoi hotel. Walking into this interesting restaurant makes your head spin. The restaurant venue features a stage for live music. You can’t go wrong with a few drinks accompanied with good music.

Ery Restaurant Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Ery Restaurant Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

We started the meal off with two cocktails, one was there Ery Geisha and the other was a Sambuca Hito. Both were lovely, but the Sambuca Hito had a special place in my heart with it’s rare combination with cucumber! Uniquely tasty.

Ery Restaurant Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Ery Restaurant Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Ery Restaurant Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

First dish up to bat was a plate of sashimi. The salmon had an optimal amount of fat to make my tummy happy. The rest of the items on the plate tasted great as well. The next item was the Chawan Mushi, which is a Japanese steamed savory egg custard, with shrimp, chicken, crab and gingko. This dish was on par with a very high-end Japanese restaurant I recently ate at. Well done Ery team.

Ery Restaurant Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

One of my top dishes of the evening was the Sauna Octopus. It comes served in a piping-hot pot filled with rocks and lots of steam bursting out of the top. The octopus was steamed with lemongrass, basil and lime leaves in front of our eyes. This is where the meal became more fusion, because they served it with a Vietnamese seafood sauce, which is one of my favorites. Spicy and tangy.

Ery Restaurant Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

The staff at Ery paired the seafood with a 2016 Sanama Chardonnay from Chile.

Ery Restaurant Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Ery Restaurant Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Ery Restaurant Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Up next was another very memorable plate, beef skewers. This was some incredibly tender beef! I wish I had more because it was so good. Afterwards, was a Japanese fried rice with salmon, egg and onion.

Ery Restaurant Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Ery Restaurant Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

We had several options to choose from for dessert, but went with the one passion fruit and one ginger ice cream. The ginger was out of this world! My first time to try ginger ice cream, and now I am a huge fan.

Ery Restaurant Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

All of this great food was accompanied with absolutely impeccable service throughout the evening. The staff were very attentive indeed. If you’re looking for an all-around great restaurant with incredible food, great service and a lovely atmosphere, I would highly recommend you to visit the Ery restaurant at The Myst Dong Khoi hotel in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam!

I'm generally a big fan of traditional Japanese food, but I left my reservations at the door and tried the new Japanese-fusion restaurant in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam called Ery, located at The Myst Dong Khoi hotel. Walking into this interesting restaurant makes your head spin. The restaurant venue features…

The Nitty Gritty

Taste - 8
Value - 8.2
Feng Shui - 7.5
Convenience - 9
Service - 9.2

8.4

Lovely!

8


 

Ery Restaurant

Restaurant

6-8 Ho Huan Nghiep St., Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Phone: +84 28 3520 3040

 

 

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam)

31 Jan 2018

I was very intrigued when I first learned about The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, located in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. The Myst hotel focuses on a very unique and authentic Vietnamese experience and labels itself a boutique hotel. I recently went for a weekend stay-cation to see what this property had to offer.

 

Click HERE to check out The Myst Dong Khoi!

 

The lobby feels like a Vietnamese historical museum. Apparently the ceiling of the lobby is made from old parts of the river pier, some pieces are over 100 years old. Similar to big brand 5 star hotels, The Myst hotel had great service in the lobby, lots of staff ready to help and I never had to open the front door myself. Well done.

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

After being greeted at the door, we sat down on a comfortable sofa and were offered a welcome drink and snacks. I must say the snacks really were appreciated.

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The rooms at The Myst hotel are a mix between Vietnamese heritage and modern styling. The furniture was beautiful and some appeared to be from a more simpler time in Vietnam. There were a couple rotary dial phones for an added touch of nostalgia. My spacious room offered a balcony that had a large Jacuzzi tub! I enjoyed a bubble bath during my stay, it was excellent.

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

Other aspects of the room I really liked were the Japanese toilet, the large shower stall equipped with a rain shower and of course the complimentary minibar. Complimentary soft drinks and beer made me feel the love.

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

On the roof you’ll find the pool, sauna, steam room, rooftop bar and gym. This is a breathtakingly beautiful place to be at all hours!

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

A feature that impressed me was the inclusion of afternoon tea for all guests between 2 PM and 4 PM daily, in their Nest restaurant on the 12th floor. This is not just a basic afternoon tea, it’s practically a Vietnamese lunch buffet. Order up a tea or coffee and enjoy your treats!

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

You can also find the breakfast on the 12th floor. Here you’ll find a very competitive 5 star hotel breakfast buffet as well as an à la carte menu. The pho on the à la carte menu was top-notch. The broth was bursting with flavor and the beef incredibly tender. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was the best pho I’ve ever had (and I’ve had lots of pho.)

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

During the stay, we had a chance to experience a Couple Delight treatment at their KL spa. This experience started with a lovely welcome drink and the treatment was inclusive of a 90 minute Swedish massage, facial, bath and steam session. Considering the treatment as a whole, I very much enjoyed it. The KL spa is part of The Myst hotel and also located next to their Ery Japanese fusion restaurant, which I’ve written about in a separate article. Take a read!

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi hotel is definitely on par, if not above many of its 5 star competitors in the city and beyond. This medium-sized property has so much to offer, lacking nothing that the big names offer, as well as incorporating the local Vietnamese identity and warmth of a small boutique hotel. The service was above average and the offering as a hole was impeccable. The Myst Dong Khoi hotel has secured a spot as one of the best in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam and I’d be very happy to recommend you to visit soon!

Reserve YOUR room at The Myst Dong Khoi now!
I was very intrigued when I first learned about The Myst Dong Khoi hotel, located in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. The Myst hotel focuses on a very unique and authentic Vietnamese experience and labels itself a boutique hotel. I recently went for a weekend stay-cation to see what…

The Nitty Gritty

Taste - 8.4
Value - 9
Feng Shui - 8.7
Convenience - 9
Service - 8

8.6

Top-Notch!

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

9


 

The Myst Dong Khoi

Hotel

6-8 Ho Huan Nghiep St., Ben Nghe Ward, Disttrict 1, Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam

Phone: +84 8 3520 3040

 


The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

The Myst Dong Khoi Hotel Review (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam) Asia Blog Ho Chi Minh Hotels Vietnam

Expert Guide: How to Expose Fake Instagram Influencers

29 Jan 2018

These days, more and more people are deciding that they’d like to become bloggers. Being able to be your own boss, work whenever you want, and have unlimited upside potential can make becoming a blogger extremely enticing. If you’re willing to take the time and focus on quality strategies to build your audience, you can get there and offer real value to whomever you work with. I actually teach these quality strategies in my blogger course, feel free to take a look.

However, with the growing interest in this profession, many try to take shortcuts in building their audiences. People with a poor judgement and morals are opting for buying their followers and engagement. Unfortunately, like most shortcuts in life, trying to bypass time and real work will actually work against us in the long run.

Fake followers and fake engagement create no real value for companies that hire influencers. It’s sad to see many public relations and marketing agencies fail to identify fake followers and engagement. Being unable to identify these imitation influencers and bloggers wastes countless marketing budgets.

This is why I’ve decided to share my foolproof strategy for spotting and exposing these fake influencers and bloggers. I urge you all to take the time to learn the below screening process, to not get stuck with under or non-performing influencers!


1. Use a Follower Check Tool

Expert Guide: How to Expose Fake Instagram Influencers Blog Lifestyle

The sudden increases and decreases indicate purchased followers.

There are a few tools available online which will help speed up the process of deciding who’s real and who isn’t. One of the free tools that I’ve used is called Social Blade. Simply enter the username of your target and you’ll get back useful data. Scroll down to the follower graph, look for sudden increases or decreases in follower count. When there is a large spike in followers, it almost always indicates a purchase of fake followers. A large decrease tends to indicate when Instagram purges fake accounts, and this would also indicate that someone has purchased followers. Even if someone is lucky enough to go viral, or get mentioned by someone very famous, it will most likely grow an account but not be in the thousands in one go.

What if the person’s following appears to be growing steady?

Even steady growth of followers can be faked, it’s called drip followers. You will not be able to spot drip followers easily because they appear to be natural when looked at as a graph. Instead, you’ll have to dive deeper into their account by following the steps below.


2. Compare Your Target’s Engagement Rates to Averages

The second method is to compare the average influencer engagement rates with your target. There was a survey done of 2 million social media influencers in 2016, it compared average likes and average comment rates to followers. These numbers can give us an idea of what typical engagement looks like.

Keep in mind that these numbers are simply the averages, not all users will follow these exact rates of engagement. As long as they’re within a reasonable range, a slight deviation might not necessarily equate to fake engagement.


0 – 1,000 Followers
Average Like Rate: 8.03% Average Comment Rate: 0.56%

1,000 – 10,000 Followers
Average Like Rate: 4.04% Average Comment Rate: 0.27%

10,000 – 100,000 Followers
Average Like Rate: 2.37% Average Comment Rate: 0.14%

100,000 – 1,000,000 Followers
Average Like Rate: 1.78% Average Comment Rate: 0.09%

1,000,000 – 10,000,000 Followers
Average Like Rate: 1.66% Average Comment Rate: 0.06%


To find the average rates of engagement, we must compare the data across several posts. To find the average like rate of a user, we should take the latest 10 photos (or more) of the user, and average them. We can then take this number and divide it by their follower count to get the user’s average like rate. To find the user’s average comment rate, do the same thing, just change the average likes to average comments.

Having too many comments or too few comments can both indicate fake engagement. However, if they’re within a reasonable range, it may not indicate fake engagement.


3. Analyze Individual Followers and Engagement

Expert Guide: How to Expose Fake Instagram Influencers Blog Lifestyle

The final and most telling method to tell whether a user has fake followers or engagement, is to analyze the user’s following and engagement with a microscope, not literally you goose, put away your microscope.

Click on your target’s follower list, scroll down and take note of how often followers with no profile picture appear. Click on some of these users without profile photos and analyze their followers and following. Do they follow tons of people but have very few followers? If yes, there is a high possibility of it being a fake account (not representing a real person.) Do these accounts have many posts? Generally, fake accounts don’t have more than a dozen photos.

Repeat this process for users with profile photos. Many fake accounts are setup with photos and can be quite convincing to the untrained eye. If your target’s followers have very little activity, this would indicate another red flag and possible fake account. However, the biggest giveaway to fake engagement is the follower to following ratio of the people following and engaging with your target, mentioned earlier.

Use this same technique on the likes of your target as well as the commenters. In the the target’s comments, look for comments that don’t make sense, have poor grammar/spelling or are irrelevant, all reasons to suspect fake accounts.


Conclusion

These are the top methods I use to expose fake influencers. Remember to use your best judgement, not all followers with no profile photo are fake, and not all weird comments have been purchased (sometimes, they’re just weirdos.)

Be sure to run through these easy methods to confirm if an Instagrammer will be of value to your business or not. No more wasting your hard-earned money on bloggers and influencers who don’t produce results! If you’d like to learn how to become a blogger, growing an audience through quality methods to actually earn a living, check out my blogger course now!

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh?

23 Jan 2018

If you didn’t know I’ve had a love affair for the country of Japan for as long as I can remember. Over the years, I’ve lived in Japan and regularly traveled there, visiting many regions and planning to continue exploring this amazing country in the future. Currently, I’m based in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, where I found a high-end Japanese restaurant called Sushi Rei. Sushi Rei is very highly-ranked in the city, so I was thrilled to check it out!

 

Click HERE to check out Sushi Rei!

 

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

After going down an unassuming alley, the street opened up to a contemporary structure. The look of the building alone got me excited to see what was inside.

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

The beautiful design outside carried on to the interior. Behind the sushi bar was a wall of shingles that looked like the scales of a fish. Well done Sushi Rei. The restaurant is very simply designed with just a few seats at the sushi bar and then one table for private parties. Eating at a traditional sushi restaurant is great because you get to constantly interact with the staff and chef. This creates a warm and friendly atmosphere for your dining pleasure.

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

The meal began with an amuse bouche which consisted of soybean milk skin and sea urchin. This dish looked gorgeous and was fairly mild in taste. After receiving our first round of sake, which included one sweet (Dassai Junmai Daiginjo 50) and one dry (Hakkaisan Honjozo), it was time for the sashimi. My favorite on this plate was the medium fatty tuna known as Chutoro.

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

The next item that really got me excited was the steamed egg with abalone and see bream or Chawanmushi in Japanese. This was very hot in temperature, but once it cooled down, the flavor was immense! Complimenting flavors with a stronger taste and smooth texture made me very happy. It was about this time where I had another glass of sake (Kubota Senjyu.) Sampling alcohol is one of my favorite pastimes. I swear I’m not an alcoholic!

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Before long, it was time to get into the sushi! We were served about 11 pieces of sushi in total. Their set menu definitely goes the distance. What I noted about the sushi at Sushi Rei, compared with other restaurants, was the use of citrus as well as the quality of the wasabi. The wasabi was freshly ground right in front of us, and oftentimes, the chef would add a slight citrus flavor to the sushi which added a refreshing flavor.

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Some of my favorite pieces of sushi included the Otoro (fatty tuna), Kohada (Gizzard Shad) and the Uni. The Otoro and Kohada were bursting with flavor and what I would definitely recommend you take note of on your next visit. I’ve had see urchin many times around the world, and typically, haven’t been a huge fan. However, the sea urchin served at Sushi Rei was the best I’ve ever had! I would eat it again and again!

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

As expected, the dessert was simple, yet incredibly tasty. Japanese desserts tend not to be overpowering or super sweet, which is great if you want something light after a heavy food marathon. The dessert consisted of Ichigo (strawberry), Beni Madonna (Japanese orange), melon and white wine jelly. A great finish!

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

From this single dinner, I could see the immense effort that went into all aspects of the restaurant. The design, service, food and beverages were all top-notch. Out of the many many dishes we ate, only a few could have used any improvement, which is quite impressive! If you are looking for high-end Japanese food, with impeccable service and atmosphere to match, I’d highly recommend visiting Sushi Rei in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam!

If you didn't know I've had a love affair for the country of Japan for as long as I can remember. Over the years, I've lived in Japan and regularly traveled there, visiting many regions and planning to continue exploring this amazing country in the future. Currently, I'm based in…

The Nitty Gritty

Taste - 8.7
Value - 8.5
Feng Shui - 9
Convenience - 8
Service - 9.5

8.7

Top-Notch!

9


Sushi Rei Ho Chi Minh

Restaurant

10E Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Đa Kao, Quận 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Phone: +84 28 3925 0689


Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Sushi Rei Restaurant Review: Best Japanese Food in Ho Chi Minh? Asia Blog Food Ho Chi Minh Vietnam

Living in China: What I Learned After 6 Months

18 Jan 2018

I had lots of countries on my bucket list, but China just wasn’t one of them. I had been living around Asia for about 6 years and never had any urge to visit the motherland. I ran into tons of Chinese tourists and they usually made me want to stay far away from China. All up until one day, when everything changed. Out of the blue, a switch flipped in my brain, and I felt it was finally time to see what China had to offer.

We all hear so many opinions about China, but it’s impossible to know exactly what it’s like until we visit. My first trip to China was towards the end of 2016 where I visited Beijing and Shanghai. The experience was incredible, way better than expected, the trip got me excited to explore the rest of the country.

In 2017, I decided to take a deep dive into the Chinese culture and moved to the bustling metropolis of Shenzhen, in Guangdong province just across the border from Hong Kong. I lived in Shenzhen for about five months and explored the surrounding areas as well.

While there, I took the time to study the Chinese language with a private teacher a couple hours a day for a two months. I travel to learn and this turned out to be quite the education. There were so many new things to discover. I never imagined that an Asian country could be so different than all of the others I had visited or lived in.

I won’t be able to cover everything I learned, but I’d like to share some of the things about China that stood out to me the most

Disclaimer: Take what I say with a grain of salt, as others may not experience exactly what I did. I can only speak from my personal experiences, and you can’t truly know a place until you see it for yourself!


1. Chinese Infrastructure is Top-Notch

Living in China: What I Learned After 6 Months Asia Blog China Lifestyle

I’ve been all over the world, and I’ve never visited cities that were as convenient and cheap to get around as in China. Every major city I visited in China had fantastic public transportation including electric buses, modern subways and easily-accessible bike share systems. Plus, traveling in between these mega-cities is easy with China’s expansive high-speed rail network.

Not only can you get around easily, but I also witnessed many very impressive buildings and bridges. China holds the top 6 positions for longest bridges in the world, the longest spanning just over 102 miles.

While living in Shenzhen, I had the fastest internet I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was 100 mb down and 50 mb up. I must mention that there are huge swaths of the country that are still under developed, but China’s incredibly huge and advanced cities are impressive to say the least.


2. Conveniences of Daily Life

Living in China: What I Learned After 6 Months Asia Blog China Lifestyle

Day-to-day life is incredibly convenient, even if you don’t understand the language. In China, you don’t need to carry cash because everyone has Wechat or Alipay. These are apps which allow people to make payments through their phones. Linking directly to your bank account, simply scan someone’s barcode or let them scan yours, and instantly the money is transferred.

Once you have these payment apps, the rest of society really becomes incredibly convenient. There are tons of apps allowing you to purchase anything your heart desires, at any time and have it delivered quickly, all for the cheap.

I often took advantage of the food delivery apps that only charge a couple dollars to deliver food right up to my 19th-floor apartment, almost always in about 30 minutes.

Mentioned in the infrastructure point are the bike share services that flourish in the Chinese market. Unlike services in many other countries, these bikes don’t require docking stations and can be found and parked almost anywhere. I never had to walk more than a few minutes to find an available bike which I was able to unlock with my phone and be on my way, never spending more than $.5 USD to ride for over an hour!


3. Your Normal Isn’t My Normal

Living in China: What I Learned After 6 Months Asia Blog China Lifestyle

Living in China made me realize that a lot of what I thought to be common courtesy and politeness simply didn’t exist. Most visitors will experience some eye-opening event after spending just a few hours walking around Shenzhen. Common occurrences included men with their shirts off in busy areas, people hocking up phlegm and spitting constantly, often landing near my feet, loud burping and belching in public, talking incredibly loud, inconsideration of other people’s peace and quiet, intense staring at strangers, watching loud videos on the subway without headphones, pushing to get on or off the subway with no sense of other’s personal space, parents allowing there children to pee in public (this even happened inside one of the modern subway stations, scarred me for life) and more.

Even when I tried to step back and remind myself that a lot of people weren’t taught the common etiquette which I was taught, having to constantly deal with these situations for months began wearing on me over time.


4. Closed Off

Living in China: What I Learned After 6 Months Asia Blog China Lifestyle

Some countries are closed because of their governments, while others are closed because they are so inwardly focused. The majority of Chinese people, like most Americans, don’t get much exposure to the rest of the world. Many formulate their opinions from biased news sources, or opinionated people and never actually spend much time abroad.

This creates very narrow-minded thinking, and often increases two emotions in the people, fear and hate. Unlike the USA, the Chinese government filters information. Over time, China is opening more and more but overall, I felt most people I encountered were quite ignorant of anything that wasn’t Chinese. While walking down the street people would often yell at me “Mei Guo Ren” (American), “Fa Guo Ren” (French person) or simply “Laowai” (foreigner.)

I had never been to another country where this happened so regularly. Every time I left my apartment I was almost guaranteed to hear one of these 3 words. This is not limited to China. I’ve had many Asian friends that were living in the US tell me they had experienced the same thing, often times, they heard much worse names.

In closed societies, people tend to think that their country is the best, when in actuality, this is almost never true. Until we go and experience the rest of the world, how can we possibly say who is the best? This false sense of confidence and nationalism is a danger to all humans. Ignorance of other countries, whether it’s Americans or Chinese, will inhibit a country’s growth. Perhaps now you can truly understand why I’m such a large proponent of traveling and living abroad.


5. China Doesn’t Need Foreigners

Living in China: What I Learned After 6 Months Asia Blog China Lifestyle

None of the Chinese apps that I used while living in China had any English language in them. I thought it was silly at first, I wondered why they didn’t support foreign languages so more people could use the apps? However, as life went on, I realized that there just wasn’t a real demand for it. China has so many people that they don’t need business from English speakers. China is massive. They can supply everything their society needs, inside their own borders.


6. China’s Green Direction

Living in China: What I Learned After 6 Months Asia Blog China Lifestyle

Part of China that I found really exciting, was their green energy. Everywhere you go, you’ll see electric cars, buses, motorbikes, green energy production, bike share systems and more. Many cities in China have completely outlawed gasoline-powered motorcycles. This creates a more peaceful and less polluted environment.

Even though China is making all of these great strides to a greener and cleaner environment, there are still tons of pollution problems. However, I believe that the ramping up of their green policies will reduce, if not eliminate their pollution problems in the future.


7. Money

Living in China: What I Learned After 6 Months Asia Blog China Lifestyle

There are lots of materialistic people everywhere, but I found that in many Asian countries, the love for money and image, is out of control. Out of all the Asian countries I’ve ever visited or lived in, China wins the prize for being the most driven by money.

I found that many people in China were more interested in their bottom line then on the quality of their products. I learned this the hard way when ordering food items on the the huge marketplace app called TaoBao. I had found a case of German (or what I thought to be German) beer for a very cheap price, which ended up equating to about $.50 per 500 ml can! I immediately got excited because I love a bargain and didn’t think twice before ordering.

After drinking the beer for a few days, I started to realize the feeling that I had after drinking it was not the normal sensation of being drunk. The feeling I got was quite similar, but I could tell, something was off. I became very concerned about what I may have consumed, and it was then I started researching about fake alcohol in China. I quickly learned that a lot of the cheap alcohol you buy on these websites, could be fake. I’ll never be 100% sure that the beer was fake. However, it’s just not worth the risk when you read the horror stories of people dying from fake alcohol.

This experience and others opened my eyes to how greedy people can be, some are happy to sacrifice the health of another simply to make money. After that experience, I got very paranoid about the food I ate, and decided to cook a majority of my meals at home. I simply couldn’t trust where the food was sourced from, and this really scared me. It didn’t help that on a trip with my local friends, I witnessed some absolutely disgusting conditions for raising animals for food.


Conclusion

Living in China: What I Learned After 6 Months Asia Blog China Lifestyle

When we are traveling, we have to remember that we are the ones that need to adapt to the foreign society, not the other way around. China is extremely different in many ways compared to other countries that I’ve visited. There are so many amazing things happening in China that are positive such as the technology, conveniences of daily life, infrastructure and green energy movement. Even though some parts of society depress me (including what’s happening in my own country) I’m not discouraged in the slightest to keep exploring and learning about others around the world.

I originally went to China because I wanted a learning experience, I got a phenomenal one. Even though it drove me crazy at times, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend visiting or living in China to everyone I know! It may be different, but our differences should be embraced and appreciated. Life wouldn’t be as enjoyable if everything were the same. Happy travels and have fun in China!

Quitting Coffee: Benefits of Removing a Caffeine Addiction

08 Jan 2018

For years I have been one of the biggest coffee addicts, especially since I’ve become a full-time blogger. Often I would have 4 to 6 cups, of highly-caffeinated coffee per day. Some drip, some espresso but I was always relying on coffee to keep my energy levels up, and give myself the false illusion of productivity.

Over a few years, I began noticing more and more, the routine I had fallen into. Relying on coffee from the moment I awoke, up until I went to sleep. These constant spikes of caffeine would produce a roller coaster of energy throughout the day. Without caffeine, I would barely be able to function, and with it, I would have a short high, which made me almost too excited to work. However, as we all know, the intensity of a caffeine buzz does wane over time.

Each year, I would take about a month off of caffeine, to reset my tolerance. For me, this entailed quitting coffee cold-turkey for 2 to 4 weeks, increasing my caffeine sensitivity and buzz afterwards.

This year, I went into the holiday period planning to reset my caffeine tolerance, but something changed inside of me!

After a few weeks off of caffeine, I really appreciated how I felt. I was reborn. As one would imagine, my energy levels became more constant throughout daily life. No more extreme highs and no more huge crashes, just a comfortable constant energy level. I did still enjoy an afternoon nap, but it was no longer a daily requirement like it was before.

I also noticed that I’m far less likely to get irritable or angry, especially when driving. No longer was I pushing way above the speed limit, and feeling in a hurry. Now just cruising along, going the speed, peaceful, with a smile on my face. It’s like a switch was flicked on in my brain!

A month off caffeine quickly became 2, and I decided to keep going. I also added meditation to my morning routine, right after I open my eyes. Just 10-15 minutes of meditation a day leaves me feeling incredibly peaceful, and exhilarated at the same time! This new exhilaration is way better for me than relying on any substance. Meditation led me into my other new daily habit of writing in my journal before moving on with the day.

Losing that roller coaster of energy enabled me to think more clearly, and make better decisions overall. I feel like now I have a much better connection with my intuition. Following my intuition has always been what I’ve deemed the best way to make decisions, and being able to listen easier, while off of caffeine, has improved my life exponentially. I even bought my first house, thanks to this clarity.

It’s so easy to rely on caffeine for energy, but it’s hard to see the negative impact until we stop consuming it for a few weeks. Quitting caffeine may not be for everyone, but I do think it’s something we all should at least experiment with. My life has definitely changed for the better. I may not be done with coffee forever, but I do think I’m done with my extreme consumption patterns. What do you think?


Let me know what you think about coffee on Instagram @PIERREBLAKE!