First Snow of 2019

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Got ‘em

Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

2019 Spring Festival

Travel in Southeast Asia for 2019

Just got back from a three week trip with my Canadian friend and here’s how we did it.

Fly from Beijing to Hanoi. Drink beer from kegs on the street. Bus to Halong Bay. Stay the night on the boat. Laugh hysterically as a Korean sings Gangnam Style on KTV. Bus back to Hanoi. Eat Pho and Banh Mi. Sleeper train to Hue. Hostel party. Bus to Hoi An. Get Bronchitis, but see the Old Town anyway. Sleeper train to Ho Chi Minh. Check out Walking Street and talk to a German Michelin Chef. Fly to Siem Reap (now in Cambodia). See Angkor Wat. Bus down to Phnom Penh. See Killing Fields. Bus to Sihanoukville. Wonder why everything is in Chinese. Boat to Koh Rong. Enjoy the beach. Boat back to Sihanoukville. Bus to Koh Kong (border city). There’s no seats so we sit on a step-stool in the aisle. Tuk Tuk to the border. Walk across the border (now in Thailand). Taxi to Pattaya. Enjoy the beach and fight off ladyboys. Taxi to Bangkok. Fly back to Beijing. Complain about the cold.

All three countries, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand are all unique, and I liked each one for a different reason - but all three had great food. It’s easy for a tourist to say they liked the country they visited because they’re there for a short amount of time and often, the people you interact with are in the tourism industry and are being polite so you’ll spend your money. With that being said, I really enjoyed traveling to all three countries.

This year, I traveled without my computer, which was a choice I’m glad I made. I could still handle e-mails and flight stuff on my phone and saw no real reason to bring my laptop with me. It was a liberating feeling, mainly since I use my computer daily when I’m in Beijing, and before my trip I thought, “how am I going to go three weeks without a keyboard?” Overall, I’m happy I didn’t bring it with me, and I think having a travel buddy made it easier since there was always someone to be with, taking away the need to ‘kill time’ by surfing around on a laptop.

The more I travel, the more I realize there’s so much to see in this world, and no matter how much I enjoy the stability of my routine and daily life, I like bouncing around, staying in different places, and experiencing new things. I also really liked that the weather in Southeast Asia was around 30 degrees while Beijing was still -4. There’s something about sweating in a tank top that’s preferable to being bundled up in a jacket and scarf.

It’s tough to spend such a long time traveling and eating good food and being in a place you want to be, and then returning to the cold and the mundane and settling back into a routine. That’s life though, and I imagine if I lived in Bangkok, I’d have similar thoughts about having to return to the noise and the heat. “The grass is always greener” is something I’m always dealing with by acknowledging that nowhere is perfect and that instead, perhaps the grass is green where you water it.

Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

2019 Goals

As with each passing year, it’s customary, at least in the US, to make goals/resolutions. So, as is tradition, here are mine for 2019:

  • $5,000 to retirement

  • Sign new contract at Xinhua

  • Visit 3 new countries

  • Write another short story (sub 15,000 words) - Current short story “Here Then Gone” is with editor

  • Benchpress 125kg 5 times - Currently around 115kg maybe 2-3 times

  • Read at least 12 books - I’ve started writing a 10-word ‘thing’ for each book I’ve read since last summer, which can be found under my About me section. So far this year, I’ve read “Fatherland” and “The Chrysalids”

  • No fast-food

Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

Temple of Heaven

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Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

北京太冷了

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Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

Forbidden City

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Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

Montana Burger

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Burger from Blue Frog in Beijing. Monday’s are buy one get one free - easy choice for Monday dinners

Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

Crawfish dinner

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Crawfish in a spicy garlic sauce, sliced pig lungs over chopped cucumbers topped with peanuts, and clams in spicy garlic sauce

Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

Chinese New Year meme

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Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

Last meal of 2018

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This was at a nice Italian place in Beijing called Mercante

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Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

New Year at Work

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The lanterns went up right around Christmas, so although they were in preparation for Chinese New Year in February, one couldn’t help but think they were there to combat the Western holiday just a bit. Chicken plate on top was from a Mexican restaurant in the hutongs called Pebbles, which isn’t too shabby considering how far from Mexico China is.

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Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

Sunset

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It’s odd to take a picture like this, and then look back at it and think “ya, Beijing is beautiful.” Too often we get caught up in the flow of things that we forget to stop, take a moment, and appreciate where we are and what’s around us.

Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

Words for 2018

Here are some words I liked from 2018:

  • Capricious - Determined by chance it whim rather than by necessity

  • Rube - A person who is not very intelligent or interested in culture

  • Copacetic - Completely satisfactory

  • Louche - Disreputable or sordid in a rakish or appealing way.

  • Cogent  - Clear, logical, convincing (of an argument / case)

  • Remonstrate - To make a forcefully reproachful protest

  • Indefatigable - Persisting tirelessly

  • Persiflage - Light and slightly contemptuous mockery or banter

  • Inimical - Tending to obstruct or harm

  • Viviparous - Bringing forth live young that have developed inside the body of the parent

  • Pernicious - Having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way

  • Bumptious - Self-assertive or proud to an irritating degree

  • Recalcitrant - Having an obstinately uncooperative attitude toward authority or discipline

  • Incipient - In an initial stage; beginning to happen or develop

Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

Merry Christmas from Beijing!

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Christmas in Beijing is really about what you make it. Luckily, I wasn’t the only foreigner who didn’t go home, so there were lots of laughs, good food, and of course, ugly sweaters.

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Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

Afternoon Park Adventure

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Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

Beijing Opera

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Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

Jingshan Park

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This is my favorite spot in Beijing. It’s right in the middle of the city, offering a 360 degree view of how big Beijing actually is. It was cold, so I wasn’t here long, but sometimes it’s nice to be outside and just take a moment to appreciate the city in which you live 

Hutong

A street in the Hutongs in the city of Beijing in China

The streets among Beijing’s hutongs are pretty narrow, especially with cars parked on either side, but somehow, they still manage to deal with the throngs of tourists that roll through snapping pictures of the capital’s old neighborhoods.

Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

Fancy Tuktuk

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I’m not sure the kind of look this Tuktuk driver was going for, but I’m guessing he’s pretty satisfied with his work

Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City). 

Blue Go Go

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The bike-share wars of 2017 are behind us and now, only three companies are left standing: Mobike (orange), OFO (yellow), and Blue Go Go (pictured above)

Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City).