Thanks for stopping by BECKY EXPLORING! I'm glad you're here!
Let me introduce myself...
I’m Becky - a U.S. expat from Washington, DC who moved to Hong Kong in late-2017 when my husband Jeremy got a new job. I’m always seeking new adventures. So when this opportunity presented itself, I decided – why not? We packed up our lives and moved 8,000 miles across the world with our two feline babies.
In Hong Kong, I’ve been a housewife and kitty mom, as well as a travel agent and tour guide for family and friends who visit. The best part of the move? Exploring my new home and traveling!
After a year of funemployment, I created the site Becky Exploring to share my adventures and inspire others to travel! On the blog, I’ll be sharing travel tips and lessons I’ve learned from my experiences so you can have the best trip possible!
What will you find on the blog?
Although my adventures are sort of a mixed bag, I've noticed a few trends emerge...
More random bits about me:
1) I’m terrible at reading maps. And I have a bad sense of direction. So I get lost a lot. On the plus side, sometimes I discover amazing things that I wasn't even looking for!
2) I adore animals so if a cat, dog, monkey, etc. happens to wander past me, I will no doubt take a photo and be totally distracted from whatever I’m supposed to be looking at.
3) I've lived in 4 different countries (so far)...
That's the short and sweet version about me. If you're interested in learning more about my background, keep on reading! If you want to skip to the travel adventures - head to the blog to check out the latest posts!
Want to know more? Entire life story coming up...
The early years
My passion for travel and desire to experience life in other places began early on. I grew up in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. For family vacations, we often went to national parks and cities across the U.S. – hiking, exploring... and buying lots of souvenir t-shirts. The U.S. is such a large and diverse place that traveling within it just made me eager to see more.
In high school, I studied Spanish and French hoping that one day I would get to travel to another country and use these languages. After my sophomore year, I got the opportunity to travel to Spain on a class trip. My first time leaving the U.S., I was 16 years old. This seems crazy to my husband who was born abroad so he's essentially had a passport since birth.
On my first trip abroad, I not only fell in love with Spain (how could you not?!), but I got a small taste of how much more the world has to offer. So, when it came time to decide on a university, I chose one that was known for encouraging students to study abroad.
University years... and studying abroad
At my university in Washington, DC, I met so many people who had the same desire for international travel and study as I did. I also met Jeremy. We were assigned to the same floor in the dorms freshman year. Ironically, we'd gone to high school only ~20 minutes from each other.
During junior year, I studied abroad in Paris, France for a semester. Studying (or living) abroad is an experience I think everyone should have. I learned to be self-reliant and resilient, plus gained the confidence to travel to a new city and just “figure it out.” Which I still do today.
Although the skills you get from studying abroad are hard to define, they’re ones that shape you for years to come. Plus, whenever you have a bad day at work, you can always think - “Remember that time you got semi-kidnapped in Rome? If you can handle that, you can handle this!” (True story. Lesson -> always get into the official taxi line!)
Then Jeremy and I got married!
A few weeks after graduating from university, Jeremy and I got married! Planning a wedding my senior year of college was probably not the smartest move. With Mom's help though, it all turned out okay! Are we adorable or what?
Starting the 9-5 life
After university, I worked in Washington, DC at a graduate school for international studies where Jeremy ended up getting his master’s degree. We made amazing friends during those years who we still run into in the most random cities around the world!
During this time, I visited my first developing country – India. In retrospect, I probably should have worked my way up to India. But, in true Becky-fashion, I jumped in headfirst. Jeremy had a summer internship in Delhi for 10 weeks during grad school. We decided I should visit for 3 weeks at the end so we could travel together.
I spent a lot of the trip overwhelmed and sweating - it was August! But, I grew a lot during that trip. Even though there was discomfort, there was also beauty, kind strangers, and delicious food.
Nowhere else I’ve been since has stretched me as much as that first trip to India. Including when we went back to India a few years ago!
Foray into Expat Life – Vientiane, Laos
After a few years in DC, we decided it was time for us to make a change and embark on a new adventure. We applied for positions with a small development organization which operates globally in more than 50 countries. Two positions opened up with the organization in Vientiane, Lao PDR.
Living in Laos was the experience of a lifetime – the people are kind and generous, the food is spicy and delicious, and the landscapes are gorgeous! When we arrived, we learned enough Lao language to get by. Mostly when bargaining or ordering food – obviously the most important things.
We traveled throughout Laos and other parts of Southeast Asia on small budgets which often resulted in great stories afterwards. Local buses are not for the faint-of-heart! In Vientiane, we partied with the locals at the bowling alley after midnight and learned how to fawn (Lao dance) at weddings… adequately…. Also, I bought a lot of beautiful sinhs - the traditional Lao skirt.
Since our positions were basically volunteer positions, we could not stay in Laos forever though. After 1.5 years, we said our tearful goodbyes.
Back to the Grind... and Winters!
We returned to Washington, DC in December. Terrible idea. I do NOT recommend moving from a tropical country's winter to a DC winter. In just a year and a half, I'd lost all ability to handle the cold!
On the job front, I found a position working at a nonprofit administering an exchange program for teachers. I loved working on that program. I met so many amazing educators. And as they went abroad, I lived vicariously through them!
Jeremy and I always talked about moving back abroad, but it seemed like we were settling down - buying a house, a new car, etc. Then, on my way to a work conference in Taiwan, I visited Hong Kong for the first time.
I won’t say it was love at first sight. It was March, which is winter, so it was grey, drizzly, and foggy. There was something about it though. Maybe it was the energetic vibe, or the parks with old women doing the weirdest exercises, or the dumplings…. Who am I kidding, it was probably the dumplings!
Whatever it was, when Jeremy saw a job opening in Hong Kong that he was interested in, I said, “Apply!” After several interviews, he got the job! It was a crazy couple of months preparing to move to Hong Kong. Quitting our jobs, selling our house and our car, and packing most of our life in DC into a 150 sq. ft. storage unit in Pennsylvania.
Read more about our move and how we did it in the post "Moving Abroad Checklist".
Returning to Expat Life – Hong Kong
Our second venture into expat life was very different from our first. We handled most of the details of our move (and our cats’ move) on our own. In Laos, the organization we worked for had handled them. We found our apartment and furnished it. This turned out to be a lot more work than I thought it would be! I spent so many hours in IKEA! Bank accounts, cell phones, utilities, so many things to think about! Our first few months here were busy.
After getting settled in, it’s been amazing to discover all that Hong Kong has to offer. We’re so happy to be living here and having new adventures all the time. We’ve hiked through remote parks, drank craft beer on beautiful beaches, and visited temples filled with incense! There’s such a wide range of activities in Hong Kong – pretty much something for everyone!
The other great thing about living in Hong Kong are the travel opportunities. Since moving here, I’ve gotten to travel to several new countries. Plus, re-visited some favorites - including Laos!
2020 - The Year of Exploring Hong Kong + Hiking
As COVID-19 brought Hong Kong and the rest of the world to a halt in 2020, travel hasn't really been an option. Although I was fortunate to take one last trip back to the U.S. in March to see my parents, I almost got stuck as flights were cancelled. And upon my return, I had to quarantine for 14 days in my apartment in Hong Kong. As someone who loves being outdoors, I got a bit antsy by the end of that period.
Since Hong Kong's mandatory 14-day quarantine has been in effect since March, it has deterred us from traveling anywhere internationally. As a result, we've explored more places in Hong Kong and have done a lot more hiking this year. We're lucky to be in a place with such a wide range of beautiful places to see!
I’m always planning something new, so stay tuned for travel tips and stories! Happy travels!