Ever since my university days in Canada, I had this crazy dream to start a YouTube channel. I dreamed of traveling around the world and eating! Check out my full guide on how to grow your YouTube channel if you haven't already.
I didn't think I could do it!
In the beginning, Even I wasn't 100% confident in this dream. It sounded so cool, but it seemed so crazy. Getting paid to travel the world and eat? Who does that? Could I actually make it come true? I barely believed it was possible myself. Would my friends think I was crazy? Would my parents support me? What would people think if I just moved to China and started filming videos?
I had been battling with a constant craving for adventure for years. I craved new experiences, exotic destinations, a sense of freedom, and new foods. I didn't want a traditional lifestyle.
But I was doubting myself whether I could achieve this freedom.
I remember while at university in Canada, just before graduation, I visited a career advisor and presented the idea to her. I was going to move to China, study Chinese, and film videos about street food and upload them to YouTube. Eventually, I would be able to support myself through YouTube and travel anywhere I wanted, I explained.
I was expecting a traditional response. That I should follow a career path in Canada, apply for jobs that I may enjoy, and hope for the best. To go the traditional route.
To my surprise, she told me to go for it! What did I have to lose? Go follow your dreams she said, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. I couldn't believe it. I was expecting a totally traditional response and was almost ready to stay in Canada and find a job and live a normal lifestyle.
So I just went for it!
I knew it right then that I was going to go for it. My family supported me from the beginning. They had always told me to do what you love. I had full support of everyone around me. It was right then and there that I decided I was going to move to China and create a YouTube channel about street food.
I moved to China to eat street food!
I had always loved China. By the time I graduated university, I had spent 1 term on exchange in Beijing and had multiple backpacking trips under my belt throughout most of the country.
Chengdu was my favourite city. I fell in love with spicy Sichuan cuisine and all of the incredible noodles as well. So I enrolled in a local university in Chengdu – the Sichuan University of Finance and Economics. I found a scholarship that gave me a living stipend started studying mandarin. Eventually, my plan was to get a degree in international trade. This was my backup plan in case my YouTube channel failed.
However, things would take a big change after I met Ting Ting in Turkey.
This is the story of how I met Ting Ting, how everything unfolded, and the excitement and happiness that has came with it.
How I met Ting Ting
In September of 2014, I had just moved to Chengdu and was having a ton of fun. I was eating around the back streets, biking around, and practicing Chinese.
I was following through on my YouTube idea by shooting short street food videos all around Chengdu.
And my channel was starting to grow!
In 8 months, my channel grew from 0 to 3000 subscribers! You can read my guide on how to grow your YouTube channel too. In those 8 months in Chengdu, I was teaching English part time to save up a little travel money. I found a couple students through word of mouth that were paying me 150 RMB ($21 USD) per hour to tutor them on their english. And after 8 months, I had enough money to take my first trip out of China to shoot new content for my channel!
One of my first videos from China.
I decided on Turkey. The food would be delicious, and I had always dreamed of visiting Istanbul. It was supposed to be a beautiful city with incredible kebabs, meat, and a ton of sweets. I booked a 3 week trip!
After looking at a list of hotels in Istanbul, I decided on the highest rated hostel in town – the Bunk Hostel. It was quite cheap too, only 12 euro per night!
On July 10th, 2015, I flew from Chengdu to Istanbul, with a stopover in Urumqi. I landed on July 11th at 4am and arrived to Bunk hostel by 6am. After checking in and having a nap, I went out to explore Istanbul.
What an amazing city!
It was more than I expected. Looking out over the city from the view on the top floor of the hostel was worth the flight alone. Traditional old houses with red roofs and little cobblestone alleyways as far as the eye could see. I explored by foot for six days, eating as much as possible and making some local friends along the way.
And then Ting walked in!
Six days later, at 6:00 AM on July 16th, 2015, Ting Ting came quietly to the 4 bed dorm room with her friend Xue from Guangzhou and accidentally woke me up. I wasn't angry, I had done the same thing six days prior with an early flight from China.
And since I was woken up and they were getting settled in, we began chatting. I told them how I had the exact same flight from China too, flying from Urumqi into Istanbul direct and checking in at 6:00 AM.
Ting told me she was from Guangzhou, southern China – the land of dim sum. After a little more chatting, we decided to walk around and see the city!
From that day on, the 3 of us would explore Istanbul together and eat as much delicious food as we could find. We drank a ton of Turkish tea and coffee and got full on baklava every day.
Unfortunately, Ting's friend Xue was feeling like a 3rd wheel (understandably) on what was her first trip outside of China and began getting angry at Ting. But since we are married now, she brushes it off and is still good friends with Ting. She'll sometimes joke that it's only OK since we got married! LOL!
We got married just a couple years later!