photo shoot

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I did a photo shoot for his sponsor Camel in their headquarters in Guangzhou.

I thought that it would be mainly my husband that they would take photos of, because after all, it is him that they sponsor, not me. But, as it turned out, I had to be in the pictures as well and it was all more professional than I thought. I thought we would just dress in some of their clothes, they would take a few photos and that was it.
Not according to them…

It took a whole day: from 9.30am till 6pm. They had a stylist who was doing our makeup and hair, we had to change into different clothes a lot and we had to put on some gear (e.g. climbing gear, backpack,…). I felt uncomfortable a couple of times. Like the time when the guy was doing my makeup and he said that I really didn’t put a lot of makeup on myself. He was surprised to see how little makeup I applied myself. I applied mascara and eye-shadow, which was already more than I did before and no, I don’t apply any foundation or BB cream now as the temperatures are still over 30 degrees and it would run down my face in 5min anyway.

While he was doing my makeup, some real models showed up: they would do the normal clothes line. I felt very conscious of myself. They were tall, slim and beautiful!! And most of all: they knew what they were doing. They did their thing and after just 1 hour they finished. As with us, they had to tell us over and over again where to look, what pose, do it more natural, not too natural, smile, don’t smile, look up, look down. It was exhausting! I know now that I am not a model and don’t even want to be one.

Another embarrassing moment was when 1 of the trousers were a bit too tight. The girl who dressed me (yes, I had my personal assistant who took me to the dressing room and helped me dress), said that they might be a bit too tight. Me, not wanting to admit that I do have big thighs, said it was fine. But, I had to wear them a couple of times and yes, I was very conscious on how tight they were. Time to go on a diet, I guess (although till this moment, I still haven’t started on this diet just yet, I will soon)!

All in all it was a nice experience and it might have been the only photo shoot I will ever do, so it was good to see that a model’s life can be quite hard and that it’s not so good for your self-confidence at times!

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When you know he is the right one…

I start my new chapter in Shenzhen, China. I have lived in Yangshuo, Guangxi for 6 years. I had the best of times there and I had the worst of times. The best of times was when I met people from all over the world, some of them became really close friends. Even though they left China, I know that wherever we are in the world, we will stay in touch and will make an effort to see each other.
The worst of times is when I got hurt by men. I had a long relationship when I came to China, but because foreign men are popular with Chinese girls here, he left me for a Chinese. Also, once in China, we did everything together and from what I know now, we were not fit for each other anyway. I was alone for almost 2 years after that. I dated some guys, but it stayed with just a couple of first dates.
After that, I met a Chinese guy and we hit it off immediately. We had the same interests and we had a lot of fun together. Until more than 2 years into our relationship, I wanted to take it to another level. I wanted to marry him and wanted to have it more serious (after all, we had been living together for 2 years by then), but he became withdrawn and stayed out with friends more and more. Until I heard that he dated another girl. He broke my heart and it took more than a year to get over this relationship and to trust guys again.

Back in the single life, I also realized that Yangshuo was not the town for me anymore. It’s very touristic and it turned more and more into a party place for rich Guangdong people to come and party for the weekend. Although, I started to avoid the center of town and practiced tai chi by myself in quiet places, I started to feel very lonely as well. Most of the foreigners were still meeting in the bar. For me, I felt that chapter was closed. I wanted to move on with my life. I wanted to have more in life and not just a day job and hang out in the bar at night. I felt I was stuck there.

It took a while to know what I really wanted. Last year, 2014, I went to Belgium, my home country 2 times: in summer for the wedding of my brother and in winter to celebrate christmas (which I hadn’t celebrated in Belgium since I moved to China). Both times, I thought of moving back to Belgium. At least, there I had my family and still some close friends who know me for many years. Back in China, I thought if I would at least try to live in a big city, but the thought of starting all over in a big city where I hardly knew anyone, frightened me.

After thinking about all my possibilities, I returned to Yangshuo in January this year. With a new confidence and a brighter look onto life: I would go back to Belgium and find a job there. Even if Belgium wasn’t the country for me anymore, I could stay with my family for at least a year and in the future I could always move back to China. I felt I needed to be with the people I loved most.

But life gave me another direction…

Back in China I started to teach at my old school again, because I couldn’t move during the period of Chinese New Year and it would take a while to sort all my things out, not in the least my little dog, who I was planning on taking with me to Belgium.
At school, I met an interesting guy: Eric. We started dating and he showed me a whole different Yangshuo: he was into rock climbing (I had done it a couple of times, but because I never had friends who were really into it and because I was focusing more on tai chi, I never stuck to it). He always went climbing with many others: foreigners and Chinese. They were all really close with each other and I saw for the first time that there is something that binds climbers: they will help you with everything and encourage you to push your limits. We had the best times: we went camping a couple of times or we just made a fire near our climbing site and when we were not climbing we had great talks about life.
The Yangshuo I saw now, was one of being close to mountains, quiet spots, natural caves,… Not the hustle and bustle of the town. It made me look at it in a different new way. After 6 years, I looked with new eyes at the place I lived in for so long.

Still, I knew my life was not in Yangshuo anymore. Eric and I became a couple. He lives in Shenzhen, so after Chinese New Year, I moved with him to Shenzhen. We immediately lived with each other. I had to adjust to the life in a big city, but it was also very exciting and there are endless possibilities here.

In April, Eric went to Nepal to climb the Mt. Everest, which ended in a disaster because of the earthquake (see my previous blog entry). Because of this experience, I knew more than ever he is my perfect match and I never want to lose him. He felt the same way. So much so, that we got married yesterday.

June 5, 2015 is our official wedding day! It’s only by law, we will have our wedding party on a different day. It feels perfect!
When you know you have the right one, you don’t need to wait for a certain time to get married. It all goes natural and smooth…

I wish for everyone to find their perfect match and have a fulfilling life! Tell me about the time where you met your life partner or tell me about your past love experiences. 

New features

Hello everyone,

This has been my personal blog for a while now. I have written about my personal thoughts, my experiences and the personal development I went through. Especially, living in China.

My life has changed so much recently and I have decided to change my blog a bit. I will write about my life with my new Chinese boyfriend. Because I have moved with him to a big city, Shenzhen and we have our cultural differences, I will mainly write about our everyday life and our experiences.

My boyfriend is quite adventurous: he is into running marathons and ultraruns, mountaineering and rock climbing. I came to China to learn martial arts. My main focus in life were these sports. Read about what we are doing and if he can change my mind into following him more on his adventures.

I also have a health blog, which you can follow here: https://healthybodymindblog.wordpress.com/

Enjoy the reading and please feel free to comment on my articles and share your experiences in a foreign country.

Getting ready for the competition

24 October is the World Championship Competition of Tai Chi here in China. And, I am selected in the Belgian team to compete with the Chen Tai Chi form. I am very happy and feel privileged to be able to join such a big competition!!

But, with it comes hard training… I am in Huizhou now, to learn from a different Tai Chi master. I am here 1 week now and have progressed a lot. My first training, she told me that I can’t possibly join the competition, that my Tai Chi is really bad (thanks for the heads up :P). Anyway, that didn’t put me down, because she really has a high level in Tai Chi and I already consider myself a winner just by being able to learn from her and this all in the Chinese language (which sometimes gives a lot of miscommunication as well).

1 week with practicing for more than 4 hours every day and she has given me a lot of exercises to work on, my body is getting stronger, but I am also getting tired, all my joints hurt like hell and I think I pulled a tendon in my hip. But, I am not giving up. I am counting on Chinese medicine to do a little bit of magic. Only 1 more week to get ready and my master is happy about my progress. She told me that I learn fast, which makes me want to try my best more and not to let her down.

I now have decided to look for a job here next year and learn more from her. She is amazing! And I am glad I found a Tai Chi master who wants to teach me thoroughly (for foreigners it’s difficult to find someone like that, because they don’t put a lot of effort in teaching foreigners properly. Most Tai Chi schools have become very commercialized, unfortunately).

IMG_6436 IMG_6431

The square where I practice Tai Chi every morning and evening.

Huizhou is a beautiful city as well, very clean, not so polluted as other Chinese cities and I am staying with a lovely couchsurfer, who gives me more local information.
From here, I can work on my new business idea as well: teach Tai Chi and give workshops. Huizhou is near Shenzhen and Hong Kong, which gives me a chance to go to companies and give workshops as a form of team-building, and work together with travel agencies to teach Western tourists as well. I want Tai Chi to become more popular in the world and want more people to know what it’s all about. A girl may dream, no?

How about you? What dream do you want to fulfill? Did you put your heart and soul in something you are passionate about?

The 5-year-blues??

I have been living in Yangshuo for more than 5 years now and I am confused, disoriented, lost direction.
I have seen this happening before with other expats living here in Yangshuo, after 5 years, if they hadn’t built a life by then (family, business) they would leave, mostly to a big city in China where you can earn more. I found this a strange phenomenon and couldn’t grasp why people would leave this idyllic place and live in a polluted city. Now I know…

Yangshuo is good to relax and have fun, but if you want to build a life, a future and earn decent money, Yangshuo is not the place. I am teaching fulltime now and I earn just enough to have a good life here, but if I want to travel, if I want to save money, it’s not enough. If I would work the same job, the same amount of hours in a big city, I would earn 3 times more. That is not motivating to stay here, even though it is a beautiful place. It would be better to live and work in a big city and to see Yangshuo as a vacation place, which I am more and more inclined to do! Especially, because Yangshuo is a big tourist destination, and it will be overwhelmed with more and more tourists every year. Then, my beautiful idyllic place will not be that idyllic anymore. I would get more and more annoyed by those 1 or 2 days sightseers who come to spoil the last quiet and clean places left here.

Time to get my life sorted out and to finally find a place where I can build a life, have a decent job and have enough to travel everywhere, not only the remote cheap destinations.

To be continued….

Kathy