BETH LEUNG

Welcome! I’m Beth and this is my blog, Travels in Translation.

I’m a professional travel blogger & Asia expert.

I’m guessing they never mentioned that path at Career Day, huh? Yeah… not to me either.

So what does that mean exactly? I am a photographer, writer, social influencer, graphic designer and consultant– check out my portfolio if you like.

About Travels in Translation

I started Travels in Translation mid 2012, but it has taken many different shapes since then.

What started out as a simple Tumblr site to document my days attending university in Japan eventually morphed into the site you see now.

Back then, had anyone told me that this is what I’d be doing with my life, I would’ve laughed in their face. Because, how crazy is that? During that time no one could make a living off of Youtube or social media. Even today explaining what I do more often than not ends in puzzled looks.

I slaved over my blog the entire time I was working in Hong Kong. It felt like I was working two full-time jobs, but it was worth it. You know why? Because shortly after, people starting finding my blog and started getting in touch offering me opportunities I could have never dreamed of. Opportunities to travel, to be paid for photography, and social media work.

I’m a firm believer in turning your passion into your career, so in 2014 I took the leap and I quit my teaching job to pursue travel blogging full-time.

And I haven’t looked back since.

So thank you for reading Travels in Translation. Without your support this all wouldn’t be possible. It’s been a wild journey so far, but I hope you’ll continue to stick around.

beth-grid copy

About Beth

My life as a traveler didn’t really begin until I was in my twenties.

Growing up in Midwest suburbia, we would go on the annual family vacation– which almost always involved somewhere within driving distance or where other family members lived.

It wasn’t until I was 21 that I applied for my first passport.

At the time I was well on my way to completing my degrees in Photography and East Asian Language & Culture — with my concentration being Japan — but I began to question how I was supposed claim to be a Japan expert having never actually set foot in the country to experience it firsthand.

Bags packed, I set out to attend university in Japan my final year before graduation, leaving my friends, family, and newly acquired boyfriend behind. I didn’t know it then, but my life was about to change forever.

Returning back home for my graduation ceremony, I felt anxious and out of place. The thought of staying in the US and working a stuffy office job started to become insufferable. Two weeks later I packed my bags yet again and moved to Hong Kong.

People always ask why Hong Kong and not back to Japan? The answer’s simple!

That long-distance relationship ended in a proposal, so I decided to spend some time getting to know Johnny’s culture and family since he’s from Hong Kong.

It took a few months to adjust to the fast-paced lifestyle in Hong Kong. Once I settled in I began to blog as Besudesu Abroad, documenting our adventures abroad. Along the way I continued to indulge in my passion for language, culture, photography and squealing over cute things.

After spending just short of three years living in Asia I returned to Chicago more determined than ever to build a life revolved around travel. Jumping into freelance full-time, I embarked on a 12-week trip around Europe and Central America.

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In November 2014, I rebranded as Travels in Translation in order to become a leading resource on Asian travel and culture.

Since then, like many other Millennials, I’ve somehow managed to cobble together a career from my experience in travel, writing, photography and design. I love the freedom being my own boss brings and being able to travel. It’s a lot of work, honestly more work than if I were working your standard office job, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

So join me as I travel across the globe– eating exotic foods, meeting new people, and visiting each and every Disney Park (really, it’s on my bucket list)!

Why Asia

Kyoto - 2011

I get this question so, SO often.

The short answer? No where else really captivates me like Asia does.

Sure, Europe is great. It’s historical and beautiful, no doubt. Central and South America? Vibrant and colorful. I enjoy most places I’ve traveled to, but nowhere has captured my heart and possesses that certain je ne sais quoi like Asia has.

So… what’s the long answer? I’m sure there are plenty of factors that shaped my love of Asia from an early age.

Growing up, my best friend was Taiwanese and I constantly yearned to accompany her to violin lessons at night and Chinese school on the weekends. Of course, my parents didn’t understand — and I never did get to tag along — but all that time spent at her house with her family certainly helped to lay the foundation.

By the time I was five I was perfectly using chopsticks, even when the foods we ate didn’t require them.

When it came time for middle school, my friend moved away. But that didn’t mean my relationship with Asian culture ended, instead it just shifted when I was introduced to Japanese culture through food and anime.

From there I was hooked.

Japan seemed like a place unlike any other (which I can now confirm it really is) and I wanted to learn all I could about it. I swapped my French lessons for Japanese and enrolled in night classes at my local community college (as a high school student) on Japanese culture.

Time to enroll at university, my pick was based solely on which one had a solid Japanese program. Since then I’ve spent countless hours soaking in all I can involving Japanese, Chinese (including Mongoli, Hong Kong, Macanese and Taiwanese) and Korean culture.

When I finally traveled to Asia, I was a little nervous. What if it didn’t live up to my expectations? What if I hated it. Luckily, it only confirmed what I assumed all along: Asia is home.

Start Here

First-time visitor? Here are some of my favorite posts:

And here are some of the most popular posts:

Hong Kong Disneyland

It’s a small world afterall…

FAQs

What camera and lenses do you use?

A Canon 70D with these lenses:

  • Canon 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6
  • Canon 50mm f/1.8
  • Canon 10-22 f3.5-4.5
  • Canon 55-250mm f/4-5.6
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How do you make money blogging?

I’ve answered this question and lots of other similar questions in this handy guide.

I’m heading to xx, what tips do you have?

Check out my destinations page for that location to see all my travel guides and recommendations. I promise I’m not keeping all the best tips to myself! If you have further questions about something I’ve written about, feel free to drop me a line!

I’m heading to xx, where should I stay?

Here’s a list of accommodations hand-picked by yours truly. All of these are places I’ve personally stayed at and loved. If it was anything less than excellent, you won’t find it on the list.

I’m moving to Hong Kong, help! What do I need to know?

Congrats on the move! Hong Kong is an exciting place. You Asked, I Answered. Your FAQs About Moving to Hong Kong.

Disclosure

I will always fully disclose any working, commercial or personal relationships that may influence what you read on Travels in Translation. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Advertising;
  • Sponsorships;
  • Products or services that have been gifted or provided gratis;
  • Complimentary accommodation, activities or meals; and
  • Material that may present a conflict of interest.

Site credits

  • Site design by Sweet Mochi Studios.
  • All editorial content and photographs on Travels in Translation are by Beth Williams unless otherwise stated.

Copyright information

© 2012-2015 Travels in Translation. All Rights Reserved.

I work extremely hard in creating original content for Travels in Translation. Please DO NOT republish in part or in whole without my written permission and proper credit. Please contact me if you would like to request republishing rights.

23 Comments

  1. June 5, 2015 / 7:58 pm

    Hi it’s Frederic again.
    Well my lady friend just got home and pointed out that the bird on the Kimono is not and Elk like I had thought but a Hawk, or a similar type of bird.. Now the explanation of a warrior for the Crests on the garment make more sense .
    From what I’ve read since my last post is that because black is the main color that this Garment can only be used on certain occasions. It is described as the most formal of all the Kimonos. Not sure if that right. Oh well,
    Thanks for reading my info.
    Have a great week,
    Frederic

  2. February 10, 2015 / 9:45 am

    Hi, I just followed you on Twitter and found your website very interesting. I live in Taiwan, but I could not find any tips on your website about this country. Have you visited it?

    • Beth Williams
      February 10, 2015 / 10:55 am

      Hi Jessica, thanks for commenting!! I actually have not been to Taiwan yet– despite being so close to HK! I am hoping to go soon though :)
      How are you liking it there?

  3. LaurieHK
    January 7, 2015 / 5:51 am

    Hi Beth!

    I just stumbled upon your blog whilst researching our impending move from LA to HK! I have a question for you, did you learn Chinese whilst living in HK? Did you choose Cantonese or Mandarin and what was your reason behind your decision? I am embarking on learning Mandarin, with simplified characters, as I figured it’s a better life skill than learning Cantonese alone, but i’m wondering whether or not to swap to Cantonese so that I can actually use my newly acquired language skills whilst living in HK. Help!

    Thanks and keep up the good work!
    Laurie

    • Beth Williams
      February 10, 2015 / 8:47 am

      Hi Laurie! Congrats on moving to HK! My whole purpose for moving to HK was to learn the language, so yes, I did study Cantonese.

      If you’re looking to learn Mandarin, living in HK won’t help you much unfortunately. Some locals will actually get angry if you speak Mandarin to them (they have a lot of tension between the two regions–esp lately). If this will be your first Asian language, Mandarin will be MUCH easier to learn. HK still offers plenty of Mandarin classes, as most businessmen need to learn it, so you could certainly still learn it in HK– just not practice it really.

      I wanted to learn Cantonese over Mandarin, because Mandarin is a business language, which I have no use for. Despite knowing how to read simplified characters, I began to learn Cantonese and slowly learn traditional writing. This is mainly because my fiancé is from HK and his family only speaks Cantonese… and because returning to the US, any Chinatown you’ll encounter will be mainly Cantonese speaking– not Mandarin.

      Hopefully this helps a little! Let me know what you end up choosing! When do you leave for HK?

  4. rajiv ranjan
    December 28, 2014 / 2:09 pm

    Hi Beth,
    Hope this email finds you in good health. I want to join with travel. Kindly help me.

    • Beth Williams
      January 6, 2015 / 10:22 pm

      Hi Rajv! Where are you hoping to travel to? :)

  5. November 5, 2014 / 5:54 am

    Hi Besu

    Are you blogging full time in Hong Kong or teaching too? I’m interested in checking out alternatives to teaching, and have seen the potential for blogging full time — though it doesn’t help in getting a visa.

    Great to have found a fellow Asian blogger!

  6. July 29, 2014 / 9:49 pm

    And I thought your besu meant best… Your blog is surprising! The home page is peppered with Japan stuff, but you are actually based in HK…
    No matter, I will spend some time digesting your blog :D

    • Beth Williams
      September 28, 2014 / 9:51 am

      Nope! Besu is just Beth in Japanese :)
      But yes, after living in Japan I moved to Hong Kong!

  7. May 14, 2014 / 10:04 pm

    Hey, Beth! I love reading about your story and your life in Asia :) I’m looking forward to interviewing you! <3

    • Beth Williams
      May 28, 2014 / 8:33 pm

      Thanks Karisa! I’ve been enjoying all of your questions :)

  8. April 13, 2014 / 11:32 am

    Hi Beth!!

    I just came across your blog and I am so happy I did. My husband and I are planning a trip to HK something this fall and I look forward to reading your blog about some things to see and do there. If you have any recommendations, I would really appreciate it.

    Constance

    • Beth Williams
      April 25, 2014 / 8:00 am

      Awesome! Will you happen to be here during Mid-Autumn festival? That’s a beautiful time to visit HK with even more to do!

  9. March 16, 2014 / 4:24 pm

    Hi! ^^

    I just recently found your blog and it’s really interesting for me to read about other Asian countries.
    I’ve only lived in Japan for the past 6 years and I only can speak Japanese and none of the other Asian languages.

    I’ll make sure to follow your blog from now on! :D

    • Beth Williams
      March 17, 2014 / 8:28 pm

      Thanks for following!

      I’ve only lived in Japan for a year, but I know more about Japan than anywhere else since my degree is in Japanese Language and Culture! :D
      Now that I’ve been in HK almost 2 years, I’m thinking about moving back to Japan since I miss it so much!

    • Beth Williams
      March 12, 2014 / 10:40 pm

      Are you guys teaching at a school or a language center in HK?
      Glad to know there are more HK based bloggers out there! :D

  10. February 11, 2014 / 10:00 am

    Great blog. Happy to have found a fellow American in Hong Kong blogging about their adventures! Look forward to reading more

    • Beth Williams
      February 15, 2014 / 8:34 am

      I’m glad to see you’re another American in HK as well! Usually I find myself surrounded by Brits and Aussies here :)
      How long have you been in HK for?

  11. August 14, 2013 / 11:47 am

    Hi Beth,

    I’m guessing that is Johnny in the pic. So glad that you managed to get love and travel in your life :) I love Asia but haven’t been to HK yet, maybe one day!

    • Beth Williams
      August 19, 2013 / 1:00 pm

      Hi Annabel,

      That is Johnny in the picture! :)

      If you ever get the chance to visit HK, do! It’s a really great place different from many other Asian countries.

  12. April 3, 2013 / 11:06 pm

    Hi there, and congratulations! I have nominated you for the Best Moment Award… which you really deserve!

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