Turning Twenty Nine 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.

While it does tug at your heart knowing the people who cherish and love you the most are thousands of miles away, it also means you get to celebrate this thing called life in a brand new city and quite possibly in a way you would never have got the chance to, had you never got on that plane.

Turning 29 in China was one of my most memorable birthdays yet. At the time, I was living in the Capital city of Beijing and working for the Walt Disney Company so you can imagine just how much magic my wandering heart was filled with!

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The birthday celebrations began a few days earlier since this was the year Shanghai Disneyland was officially opening! As if it couldn’t get any better, the official launch was set for the 16th of June – right on time for my birthday too! Sigh… the universe and her signs… Disney will always hold a special place in my heart.

Being a Disney employee also meant that each and every one of us received tickets for 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! Talk about a wild adventure!

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 had become pretty ill. Living in Beijing is no easy feat. The air quality is beyond bad which means at some point it will take its toll on your health. In fact, it had been taking its toll for the last few months to be exact… but I wasn’t about to let that stop me from having a once in a lifetime opportunity like this. I visited 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 a little better.

Off we went!

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A fun day was had by all and soon we were making our way back to Beijing! My birthday was filled with all sorts of pretty surprises.

Lots of presents from the sweetest of friends.

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A Frozen themed birthday cake that looked beyond magical.

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More importantly, good food with good friends at the Blue Frog.

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

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Hi World! I'm Shal - an environmental microbiologist, writer, teacher and artist from Durban, South Africa. I've spent the last two years traveling and teaching Chemistry and English to young kids in Asia. Life of Shal was founded as a way to share travel experiences, tips and other worldly magic with you! Join me on my journey!

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