Birthdays In China

Going on adventures and living in different cities means that at some point or another, you’re going to experience a birthday (or two) away from family back home. Here’s how I spent my 29th birthday in China!

While it does tug at your heart strings, knowing the people who cherish and love you the most are thousands of miles away, it also means you get to celebrate life in a brand new city and quite possibly in a way you would never have gotten the chance to, had you not got on that plane.

Turning 29 in China was one of my most memorable birthdays yet! At the time, I was living in the Chinese capital – Beijing. I was working for Disney English so you can imagine just how magical my birthday was!


Birthday celebrations began a few days earlier. This was the year that Shanghai Disney was officially opening and the official launch was set for the June 16th – right on time for my birthday!

Sigh… the universe and her signs…

Being a Disney employee meant that each of us received four free tickets to the soft launch, being held a few weeks earlier. I couldn’t believe it! We were getting to visit the park before the rest of the world and take our families too!

Shanghai Disneyland Tickets

I called up my parents and sister in South Africa, told them the good news and a few weeks later they arrived in Beijing and we all headed off to Shanghai as special Disney guests!

Unexpectedly, upon arriving in Shanghai, I became ill…again. Living in Beijing with the polluted air is no easy feat. The air quality is beyond bad on some days. This means that at some point it will take its toll on your health. In fact, it had been taking its toll on me for the last few months. I had been in and out of doctor’s offices.

But I wasn’t about to let that stop me from having a once in a lifetime Disney adventure! I managed to find a doctor (thank goodness for travel insurance and medical aid), took a lot of medication and thankfully on the morning of the launch I was feeling better.

Off we went!


The park was packed but we had a great day and soon we were making our way back to Beijing!

My birthday was filled with all sorts of pretty surprises… presents from my learning partner (and now, one of my best friends!)…


A Frozen themed birthday cake…


More importantly, dinner with great friends at the Blue Frog… one of favourite restaurants and bars in Beijing!


I couldn’t have asked for a more memorable way to turn 29 in China!

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I'm Shalinee - a Geminian scientist who loves to travel, write, draw and eat chocolate. I've visited over twenty countries, published a Environmental Science encyclopaedia and somewhere along the way started a science communication company to help students and corporates translate that hard-to-read data generated in a lab. Other than that, I'm just searching for the magic still hidden in the world.

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