Dance to the rhythm of cooking
Sing to the wonder of life

Dance to the rhythm of cooking Sing to the wonder of life

Dance to the rhythm of cooking
Sing to the wonder of life

The Big Move :)

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      1. 董小姐

Since the last blog I posted on (dated July 2015) exactly one year ago, many things have happened last year which eventually led me to leave the city I once loved – Beijing. Many people have asked me why I left?

There were three main reasons –
Firstly, the business partnership for the noodle shop ( A.Wang Noodle Bar) as well as the two food projects that I was working on didn’t work out well. IMG_3438 I don’t want to play victim and blame anyone as there is always risk involved with any kind of business so I won’t go into too much detail but I do want to mention a few things hoping you don’t make the same mistakes I made.

Don’t invest in F&B business unless you have experience working in F&B industry, will take active role in the business (with daily operation). Moreover, don’t give away 51% of the share (if you do partner up with someone, be equal and invest money equally, don’t be a silent partner if you want to see your initial investment again), if the promise of return seems too good to be true, it probably is. In the end, I not only lost money but also the trust I had for my business partner whom I met through church’s F&B group and a good friend.
The two other food media projects I was involved in – one being the food guidebook (Food Hunting in Seoul) and the other one being the cooking show…

It is a big dream of mine to have my own cooking show, so naturally when a Chinese producer approached me after I was on another reality tv show and asked me to be on their ‘cooking show’, you can probably imagine how excited I was!! It was supposed to be a Chinese remake of a very popular Korean cooking show (냉장고를 부탁해) BUT life is never that simple and easy. I later learnt that it was merely a copycat show (an entertainment show not a serious cooking show that only cares about 大明星(big celebrities)) and what’s more dramatic is that the main producer for the REAL remake show actually found me through my Weibo (Chinese equivalent of Twitter) just a week AFTER I had already signed with this copycat show. aiya….! missed opportunity

the REAL remake of the cooking show I was invited to audition for but couldn’t since I had already signed with another show

Also I found out a month later, the opportunity was later given to a much more qualified professional Korean chef I respect. This real remake show went onto become one of the hottest new shows in early 2016. Ah~~! the irony of life… but I would like think that I probably wasn’t ready nor qualified to be on that show anyways and chef Andrew totally deserved this! 🙂

As for our book (Food Hunting in Seoul – 一起覓食吧) – after being signed to a 2-book deal with one of Beijing’s prominent publishers back in 2015 January, and being promised a publication in June of 2015, we were kind of let down by our publisher when it was delayed indefinitely. My great friend Kayla (co-author) and I worried about the delay as unlike other books, the time is of essence for this type of guidebook. Since our initial research in Korea in 2014 winter, 5 restaurants have closed down and a few have relocated/changed names.

IMG_3720 Through this experience, I learnt that contracts don’t mean much in China, what’s more important is keeping the ‘guanxi’(business relationship) in good terms. I was again let down by ‘over promise and under deliver’ business mentality very prevalent in Beijing. With certain things in life we can’t do anything but just wait and hope that the other side will keep their end of promise and deliver. After 14 months of delay, the publisher promised us the book will finally be published in August 2016 , we just hope that it will really happen this time.

IMG_1644 Secondly, the air pollution in 2014/2015 became so bad that it became unbearable to live. Not only I got physically sick (painful throat and flu-like symptoms) once every other week but it affected me mentally and emotionally as well. Directly and indirectly, seeing, smelling and feeling the heavy Beijing smog gradually made me depressed and even anti-social to the point that I lost all my passion for cooking, I stopped blogging all together, I stopped being curious to explore. Everyday I would check the pollution index level on my phone to decide whether to go out or cancel all meetings and stay inside with two air purifiers on full power.

air quality air quality 2 air quality 3

‘white’ Christmas Beijing 2015

Last winter, Beijing pollution index went over the maximum detectable level (beyond hazardous) for 5 days in a row. We had white Christmas not because of snow but because of heavy grey smog which engulfed the whole city- it was like a scene from Silent Hill movie. After many attempts to stay, I have finally decided to move out of my 3rd home Beijing to a place where I can breathe cleaner air. 已经坚持住北京几次可是这一次真的下决心离开我心目中第三个老家北京、去一个不用每天看手机确定没有雾霾才决定出门的地方 IMG_3341 air quality 4

my air purifier filter only after 4-5 months of use! I heard it’s getting much better in 2016, happy for Beijingers!

Lastly, I felt the Chinese censorship (the infamous Great Firewall of China) and the control by the Chinese government were becoming more and more strict to the point that I felt my freedom was being taken away and it affected my daily life. First came the ban on google, gmail, facebook, and later even line, instagram, youtube, some music, blogs, many foreign websites and videos that are not in accordance with Chinese ‘values’ China was becoming more secluded from the rest of the world and it was becoming harder and harder for me to stay in touch with the loved ones. Additionally, during the rehearsal for the Chinese military parade celebrating the 70th year victory over Japan, many residents living near the main ChangAn road were told to ‘stay inside’ (in another words, locked inside) our apartments for nearly two full days. Having lived in Beijing for a total of 6 years (2003-2004, 2006-2007, 2011-2015), this was the first time I felt OMG China really is a communist country! It definitely wasn’t the same Beijing that I came to love.

Maybe it was just bad timing for everything or just a bad year or maybe it was God’s way of telling me it’s time to move on…. For the next 2-3 months, I traveled to many cities (Okinawa, Tokyo, San Francisco, Taipei and Bangkok) to find a suitable place with higher quality of life and business potential. Actually, I agonized with the decision to move out of Beijing for nearly a full year, however, IT WAS TIME. All of these reasons combined, right before 2016 Chinese New Year, choubu and I made the big move to the land of smiles – Bangkok! 🙂

Even though, I left China out of desperation, Beijing will always have a special place in my heart. I thank everyone I met during my six year journey in China and for all the fond memories and adventures we shared. In my mind, Beijing will always be the charming ‘little’ city I came to love when I first came as a naive exchange student in 2003 – a growing city full of ambitions, untold hutong stories, 1.2 kuai-metered red taxis, 1 kuai erguodou baijiu, streetside 羊肉串,BICF International Church ‘salty’ small group, kids church, 很熱情的北京哥們兒和阿姨 and also the city I found many lifelong friends, choubu and Xintai. 再見我的愛-北京!

April 23rd 2006, near the hutong where I first found Xintai! she followed me home!

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Beijing Bucket List – I checked off almost all the items 🙂

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Sawadee Khrap Bangkok! I hope we get along well, looking forward to the new chapter of life there with a big smile on! 🙂 IMG_5019 IMG_5375


I’m on Instagram – @Musichef_TJ and facebook . come check out Musichef TJ’s daily happenings 🙂

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  • Jany

    Hey.. I’m just browsing on the internet trying to find organic food delivery in beijing. And that’s how i found your page. Love the 12 lessons and the big move pages =) Thank you for all the good tips.. I’m from Thailand.. been living in the US for 3 years and the UK for another year.. and here in Beijing for almost 5 months.. couldn’t agree more with your comments about beijing.. would love to hear more about your next chapter in Bangkok.. i’m sure it will be an awesome one 😉

    • Hi Jany! Thanks for your kind comment! and I apologize for the late reply! (I only saw the message today). You are like me – a global citizen! 🙂 I have good news! the publisher kept their promise this time, the book is getting published tomorrow! as matter of fact, I flew into Beijing today to attend the new book publishing event tomorrow. If you are in Beijing and have free time, you are welcome to join our book event 8/27 Saturday 2pm at the Korean Culture Center (on guanghualu). I love my new simple life in BKK by the way, keep in touch and maybe I’ll see you in Thailand!