30th Birthday Celebration & Long Weekend Trip (September 2018 Blog Round-Up)

September is my favourite month of a year. Not only because it’s my birthday month, but also because it’s the beginning of Autumn when the temperature begins to drop. In my September 2018 blog round-up, I’m sharing how I celebrated by 30th birthday, new places I discovered in and around Shanghai, and a new song I am very addicted to lately!


First, let’s talk about my blog update in September…

September was another slow month with my blog updates. In my Singapore budget guide, I shared about how I saved money while travelling in one of the most expensive cities in Asia. What I recommend in this post is based on what I could afford, so you gotta read it to see if my tricks can help you and make your own judgement!

In my July & August blog round-up, I mentioned my newest collaboration with musician Adrian Freedman, and I’ve been spending hours listening to his responses to my interview questions word by word. My original thought was to create a text version of his audio answers, but I realized it’s a lot of texts for readers. The other reason why I haven’t been able to create the post is also that the correspondences from Adrian triggered an unexpected impact on my personal life and spiritual path. I’ve received a lot of support from Adrian, and it’s been a very meaningful journey for me. Frankly, I don’t know how long this interview will take me to create, but I am aiming to share with you in October!


How I celebrated my 30th Birthday

Truth to be told, I didn’t really celebrate my 30th birthday. All I did was going to the gym, taught 3 students, had a nice dinner with Jim, and I went to bed quite early. I thought about doing something big, but I’m just not that 21 years old girl anymore.

However, the whole of September was a transformative month for me. Instead of keeping my engine on and going constantly, I am tuning down a notch and slowing down my pace. I spent more time to meditate each day. I’m making it into a habit, even if it’s just for 15~20 minutes. The more I do it, the more I realize the importance of it. It’s like practising an instrument or a sport — you get better at it the more you do it. I received a lot of epiphanies and thought, and I believe that was the best gift I could present myself. Through meditation and through looking within, I find clarity again. Meditation also helps me to make choices from peace. I’ve also adjusted my ways of teaching, so I can help my students from a better place.

My colleague did buy me a cake, and an adorable 9 years old student gave me a beautiful bundle of roses. I had no idea how her mother knew it was my birthday! (My birthday is on September 28th. Coincidentally, it’s also Teacher’s Day in Taiwan although Teacher’s Day in China is on September 10th, and I received nothing on that day aside from other teachers, haha.)


New brunch place and restaurant I tried Shanghai

I went to The Rooster several times for their half-price chicken wings night. It’s 40RMB instead of 80RMB for 12 wings, and you get to choose any 2 flavours. Fantastic buffalo wings by the way. It was during one of these times I found out that this American restaurant has bottomless alcohol brunch every weekend! The most awesome part? Feel free to mix and match your alcohol if you want! They got mimosas, beer, bloody mary, and sangrias. The deal also comes with a cup of coffee or tea. I ordered their breakfast wrap to go along with the alcohol, and the size of that wrap was more than enough for me. The weekend brunch hours are 11am~3pm. That’s plenty of time to get yourself drunk and sober. Bottomless mimosas weekend brunch is one of my favourite NYC memories, and I had been looking for something similar ever since I moved away.

Another fabulous restaurant I tried is the Boxing Cat Brewery on Fuxing West Road. Their regular dinner menu is delicious — We had the sliders and their chilli cheese fries. They also serve chicken wings for 3RMB per wing on their Tuesday chicken wings night. It’s cheaper than The Rooster, but they serve limited flavours on the night. Jim prefers their buffalo wings over The Rooster. I love them both. They got awesome craft beer, too.

Speaking of chicken wing nights, we also tried the Chicken Wings Wednesdays at The Shed. The Shed is an Australian owned restaurant we regularly visit for their Steak Night Mondays. It’s 2 RMB per wing. It’s dirt cheap, and it’s popular. They only serve grilled chicken wings, but they give you a lot of drumsticks though, and it’s tiny.

The Rooster

📍455 Shaanxi North Road, near Beijing West Road | 🚇12 minutes walk from Nanjing West Road Station (Line 2, 12, 13)

Boxing Cat Brewery

📍82 West Fuxing West Road | 🚇Shanghai Library Station (Line 10)

The Shed

📍698 Shaanxi North Road, near Kangding Lu | 🚇 10 minutes walk from Changping Road Station (Line 7)


A Long Weekend Trip — Tiantaishan (天台山)

Since the last Monday of September was the Moon Festival, Jim asked me to take a short trip away from Shanghai. Tiantaishan (or Mount Tiantai) is in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province (浙江省台州), which is about 4 hours from Shanghai by public transportation. We first took a high-speed train to Hangzhou, spent a night there, then took a local bus the next day. The tourist centre recommended us to go to Shiliang Scenic Area (石梁景區), which is one of the highly recommended scenic areas up in Mount Tiantai. We got to chase waterfalls after waterfalls! I have never seen so many beautiful waterfalls all at once.

Shiliang Scenic Area

Afterwards, we visited Guoqing Temple (國清寺), which is one of the better temples I’ve been to in China. Overall, Tiantai is a great getaway from Shanghai. I’ll write up a guide soon!

Guoqing Temple

A Recent song I am in love with — “Be Honest” by Jason Mraz

I have not heard a song that speaks of my personal truth more than this one in a long time. Every single line of the lyrics speaks my mind. I also love the melody and all the harmonies. I could have this song on repeat all day! In addition, I stumbled upon a short track on Spotify in which Jason Mraz commented on his motivation behind composing this song. He explained that:

Honestly, ‘Be Honest’ sounds like I’m asking someone else to do whatever they want as long as they are honest about it and open about it, but honestly, I wrote it about myself. I’m choosing to live my life in a way that fulfils my wildest dreams, and in order to do that, it’s important for me to be open and honest with those who I love … Through that, we will establish unconditional love because when you tell all, people may not like what you’re gonna have to say or what you’ve been up to. But if they truly love you and want the best for you, they are gonna love you no matter what you do and say.
Be Honest (feat. Inara Geroge) Bonus Commentary by Jason Mraz

Here’s an awesome live version of Jason Mraz performing with an audience in my home city, Taipei. Many people thought this guy Stan was a setup because he was so good, but he wasn’t!


What’s coming up in October 2018

I have several articles waiting for me to accomplish, especially the ones I’ve promised. Besides the interview with Adrian, I have a Backstreet Academy experience in Bali I want to share with you, as well as my encounter with Balinese traditional musicians in the summer.

Also, October 1st was China’s National Day, and everyone gets one week off! I had plans to go to Xiamen (廈門), but I decided to put it on hold as travelling during this time of the year would just be insane. Therefore, I’m just using this time to relax, sleeping a lot, and enjoying some personal time!


What are you up to in October? Share it with me!


Originally published at Notes of Jo.