Thursday, July 30, 2015

Inle Lake - Getting There & Where we Stayed


Today I'm sharing more with Inle Lake with you: how we got here because getting anywhere in Myanmar is always a big huge adventure / annoyance & where we stayed while we were at the lake. 

How did we get to Inle Lake? 

For starters the lake is in another state up in the mountains, far far away. You can get there by taking an overnight bus, which is ideal to me, but we were on a time crunch so we knew we needed to fly. 

Booking a flight should be easy but when I got on-line to book and pay I couldn't pay because of sanctions on Myanmar, meaning they won't allow my American card to pay for something in Myanmar on-line. Super annoying. 

Remember water festival? Well we were trying to book our tickets during water festival which meant everything was closed! We knew we would have to go to the airport to try and buy a ticket. Dave and I got up super early one morning and made our way to the airport. The first airline told us we had to go to a hotel which was across the street because their offices were located there. We got there and they told us we would have to wait another 2 hours ... nope! 

We went back to the airport and went to a different booth and said we needed tickets to Inle Lake. Their reply "We don't know our flight schedule for the next 3 days because of Buddha's New Year" aka water festival. My thought was "How in the world do you not know your flight for the next 3 days?" 

The next booth? Yes, they had tickets! They would type in 'Inle Lake' on the computer and then we all stood there and waited and waited for it to load. Then each time they had to go to a new screen we would all wait together. I was so annoyed you guys but thankfully we finally got tickets!

2 days later and we arrived at the airport for our flight. Now, we paid for 3 flights but I assure you we could have taken 4 people on our flight. This is the ticket they issued us (see picture below). They opened our passports, "glanced" at them, and gave them right back. Security check? That's funny and not really existent. 

I wouldn't have snuck a 4th person in because that would be wrong on so many levels but I was just so surprised at the no security / screening. 


After we got our tickets we just walked out to the airplane. Guys, I feel bad for the locals. These airplanes are running full blast with loud loud noise and the workers have no ear plugs. I'm sure they will have hearing loss and I can relate because you all know about my hearing loss story


Now, I will tell you that KBZ is also sanctioned by the US government but it was our only option. I was nervous to fly with them but it was one of the nicest airplanes I have been in and the staff was so kind!

I did find this picture funny because only in Asia would you find that in an emergency you must remove your shoes. Everyone takes their shoes off for everything over here.


The flight up to the lake was lovely. It was beautiful and it was so refreshing to see green and to see land instead of city.


We arrived at the Heho airport near Inle and the staff from Golden Island Cottages was there to pick us up. It is about a 45 minute drive from the airport to the lake and I would recommend arranging with a hotel to pick you up at the airport. 

The shuttle took us from the airport to a town called Nangshwe. At the town there was a boat that took us for a beautiful 45 minute trip across the lake to our hotel. 

The hotel was right on the lake and the little bungalows are made from bamboo. They were lovely and charming and the views were stunning. 

The staff greets you with music upon arrival which is super thoughtful of them. They are very friendly and will also arrange for a boat trip to see all of the shops on the lake. I highly recommend staying on the lake at least for one night. It is more expensive but is worth it. 


The view!


I will be honest and say finding our way up to the lake was a big pain but it was worth it! Inle Lake is one of my favorite places I have ever been and if you are visiting Myanmar I'd say this is a must see place. I'm actually going to back there in September! When my parents come to Myanmar I'm taking them up there for a couple of days and I'm so excited to show them this beautiful part of the country.

If you are reading this blog and are planning on visiting this area please e-mail me and I'll share all the little details and helpful tidbits.

Stay tuned for more of Inle Lake! I have a mulberry paper farm to show you, a lots and silk weaving farm, the markets and a few other really neat things!

If you live abroad is traveling around easy or hard for you? 
Would you visit this lake? 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

30 : a recap of my birthday


I'm 30! 

I don't know what 30 is supposed to feel like but I still feel pretty good. I am tired every. single. day but that's because I work with 4 year olds. 

To all of you who wished me a happy birthday I so very much appreciate it! 

And now I'm going to give you a recap of my birthday BUT I have to tell you a side story first. Remember when Alisha came and visited me? Well, after she left I decided to change the bedroom she stayed in into an office. I went crazy cleaning and I even decided to clean on top of the big closet unit and this is the conversation I had in my head when I saw what was on top of the closet: 

Beka 1: "OH MY WORD! Look at all of this fun stuff up here!" 
Beka 2: "And LOOK someone even left party plates! and confetti!"
Beka 1: "And look right here!!!! Someone left a 30th Happy Birthday sign! I should use this for my birthday when I turn 30 and I gotta call Dave!" 

REAL BEKA: "DAVE! DAVE! Come see what I found!" 

Beka 2: "oh my word! There is a birthday card ... from my Mom! I just ruined my birthday surprise. I hope Dave didn't hear me scream his name or he will know." 
Beka 1: "Darn! Here comes Dave!" 

So friends, my Mom sent a bunch of decor for my 30th birthday and I somehow discovered it in April! 

But it was still so fun to use! She sent a lot of decor. A lot! We had enough for home and for school. I loved it!!! so THANKS MOM! 

I woke up early on my birthday because I still had school. I have told the kids for over a month now that my birthday was coming in July so they were super excited too. Probably more than I was. 

I had coffee with real whipping cream in it ($7 splurge for my birthday you guys!) and I read the card and opened the gift my parents sent me. I also opened up the ruby ring Dave bought me and a present from my sister-in-law. 


I then made my way to school and as soon as I entered into my class I was swarmed with children. And I do mean swarmed in the very best way! It was so fun. Each kid was SCREAMING at me with excitement to open their present first! I finally just sat on the carpet with them and opened up all the gifts. 


Dave made me 2 big birthday signs! I love the signs he makes. They are fun and very "Dave". 


Kyron and Pam made me and our class sugar cookies in memory of my mother-in-law Carol. It was really special and thoughtful of them to do that. I ate them ... all of them.


Each day we combine the K4 classes for phonics, music and language development. This class was just as excited about my birthday too and they swarmed me with presents too. =)


For lunch I was going to have a pizza party with all the K4 children but the pizza place that delivers closed. So, we had rice and chicken instead. When I told the kids about it they SCREAMED AND SCREAMED with joy! I laughed really hard because only in Myanmar would kids scream with glee over chicken and rice.

It was a pretty good lunch, even if I did have a chicken neck in my serving of chicken. =)


Here is Sweet again. She loves it when I have my camera at school. And I love her!


For dinner Dave and I had Indian food. So so good! Then I slept and slept because all the excitement wore me out!

What do you do for your birthday? 
Do you have a favorite birthday memory? 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Life lately #29

                     
                       
Rain! 

That might be a good way to describe life lately. 

It's officially rainy rainy season here. I know the land needs the rain so I'm glad to have it. 

I'm also thankful for umbrellas and these good rain shoes I purchased before coming over here. 


Normally weekends for Dave and I consist of being woken up around 6am on Saturday mornings by the man upstairs who has been constructing for 9 months now! We then try and fall back asleep for a bit, eat breakfast and then our power usually goes out for 2 - 3 hours. We can pretty much count on a power outage every Saturday. Honestly, I don't mind too much anymore. 

I also sleep and rest a lot on the weekends! I have needed it. 

We have a 3 day weekend this week so Dave and I are heading to the beach. Getting tickets was a classic Myanmar experience where you go from one place to the next with each place giving you different prices and different answers. 

We finally did get bus tickets and will leave Thursday night and come back Sunday morning. 

It's rainy season so I'm hoping not many people are there. 


Can I be honest and say that some days it's a battle for me to stay mentally and emotionally plugged in here? I'm thankful to be here but I also miss home. 

I have been reminding my emotions that I'm right where God wants me. I also keep remembering last year when I was in Oklahoma and regretted not diving into community sooner. So, here's to plugging in and being fully where I am! 


How is life for you, friend? I want to hear what you are up to! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The many jobs I've had


I don't know about you but I love reading and hearing about other jobs people have had. 

What career are they in? 
What does their day to day look like? 

Today I have a list of all the jobs I've had. It is a huge variety and I'm thankful for each place God has put me in. 


Before I get into the list though you should know this: my degree is in Spanish! Honestly, I never had a set career I wanted. In high school I wrote down what I wanted to do in life and this is what I put: help people! Not just help but to really encourage and come along side people to support them. 

I know that desire doesn't fit into a career and some days it bothers me and some days I'm ok with it. I've learned this though - God has always provided me a job to fulfill my hearts desire and to serve others. I've had a lot of variety and I'm thankful for all He has provided. 

Where I've Worked

1. YMCA!
My first official job was at the YMCA. I started working here in high school and worked on and off through college. I lifeguarded for several years, taught swim lessons and then I transferred to Membership Services. I worked the front desk and did some management too.

I think the biggest thing from that job I learned were people skills! The Y definitely has such a variety of people and it taught me how to work with wonderful people and how to deal with rude people too. I also got to see some of the oddest people ever so that was fun.

2. Gerard House
This is by far one of the most interesting and difficult jobs I have ever had. The Gerard House is a group home for pregnant teenage girls who come from prison or foster homes. I should also note that they are placed there by the state and sometimes they weren’t so happy to be there.

Many of the girls did not have good (or any) medical care, had not been in school, had not seen a dentist in years and more. Our job was to get them complete medical care, enroll them in school and make sure they saw a counselor if needed / required by the state.

The hard part was this … imagine 8 – 10 teenagers, pregnant, off all medications and forced to be living together. =) It was a challenge! I loved those girls and enjoyed my job but it was really hard too. We had to make sure the house ran efficiently, which meant enforcing chores and rules.

I’m sure you all are wondering about the cute babies that were born! The babies could stay at the house for 6 weeks after they were born. After that the Mom’s social worker had to help her make arrangements where to live. Some went back home, some went to independent living and some went other places. 

Adoption was an option but we were never allowed to bring it up to the girls and not one girl ever spoke of adopting her child out. I can’t say they all still have their kids now which makes me sad but I do know we tried everything we could to help them during their time at the house.

3. Hyatt
The job where I learned to be a planner and organizer! I started at the Hyatt just working part time by banquet serving. Banqut serving isn’t just serving a meal. It entails setting up, serving, cleaning up the table and then cleaning the back ot he house. It’s a hard job!

After I banquet served I applied for an admin assistant job to the banquet department. I really did have the best boss ever and she taught me so much about organization. I was never a planner or very organized until this job and I definitely changed a bunch after working here.

The organizational skills I was taught there have helped me pretty much every day since then! 
  
4. School Teacher
I can hardly believe this is on the list but it is true! I have taught and this is my second year of teaching. My first year was in Kore and my second year of teaching is in Myanmar. I don't think I want teaching to be a long term thing but I do love the kids. 

5. Babysitter 
If you would have told me this would be on the list I would have rolled my eyes at you. However, God knew just what I needed and when I moved to Oklahoma I ended up babysitting a super cute baby named Isaac. I loved spending 2 days a week with him! 

His Mom, Kinzie, is now one of my best friends. So that is a plus too! 

6. Barista
Probably one of my favorite jobs! I've always wanted to work in a coffee shop. This job happened in Oklahoma too and was not only a place where I could serve coffee but where people came in for encouragement. 

7. Trophy Wife
Can I add that to the list? I call that a period of transition but also some nice alone time at home when I first got married. More on that right here


Where do you work? 
Where have you worked? 
Do you have a career or are you a jack of all trades like me? 
What is the favorite thing about your job? 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Water Festival


Once upon a time I used to be frugal with water in Myanmar … and then water festival happened.

Water festival is an annual event here in Myanmar as it marks the beginning of the Buddhist New Year and it is a big. huge. ridiculous. deal. here! It runs for 4-5 days and every store in town is closed! The only places open are the pagodas and temples. The only thing I can remotely compare water festival to is to Mardi Gras, except it is all about water and instead of lent they go to the pagoda to pray and confess their sins.

I’m glad I got to experience water festival but I don’t ever want to experience it again. Alisha came to visit during water festival and it definitely made her visit one to remember.

Before I tell you more about water festival I must let you in on something: Myanmar is hydro powered, meaning that they depend on water and rain to supply power to the entire country. April, when water festival occurs, is during the hot dry season when water is already super low. By low I mean some days we just don’t have water running in the bathrooms. Period. The country should be conserving the little water they have but instead they party all week long dumping water everywhere and on every one.

The weekend before water festival, huge, and I mean huge, stages are built all over town. Then local people build mini stages and other people bring big barrels onto the streets to fill up with water too. I am honestly surprised because everything takes forever here but getting ready for water festival??? Built & Done incredibly fast!

After the stages are built they then hook up power washers, fire hoses, regular hoses, buckets and whatever else they can think of to spray water on people.

Where do they get the water? Every source you can think of! The big stages had massive hoses hooked up to the lakes in town and the smaller, more local stages, use water from their own buildings.

I didn’t mind getting sprayed by water from the lake until I saw a man peeing in it not too far from where the pumps were. #gross !

So how does the festival work?

There are several ways to experience it but the main way is for you and a group of people to load up into the back of a truck with a large bucket or tub for water. You drive around town and basically throw water on every person you see. You also do a ‘drive through’ of the stages and get sprayed with water. The stages usually have live bands playing and everyone around the stage is basically ‘raving’. It was crazy you guys!

Alisha was visiting during water festival and Zama and some local friends were nice enough to take us around. It was fun and it was really crazy at the same time. The fire hoses and power washers were actually pretty painful so when we would see them coming we would hide under our towels. 

We also experienced water festival by just walking outside. If we stepped out our door the people immediately saw us white people and really doused us good. When we walked around everything had to be double and tripled bagged so it wouldn’t get wet and ruined.

We did stand from our porch and throw water down on people. We live on the 11th floor so I’m sure it was painful to get water on you but it was pretty darn funny for us =). 

On a serious note the country really does use the one week to party like crazy. In Yangon alone 16 people died that week and over 300+ were injured. Not only are they celebrating and partying for the New Year but they are praying that Buddha will send rain. To me it is a reflection of their spiritual state without Christ. It’s sad and the people of Myanmar sure do need the gospel!

Here we are - pre-water festivities. We had no idea what was about to occur. 


See the rope? It's attached for the festival so you can hang on for dear life and not fall off. 


So there you have it friends, a recap of water festival. Alisha was a trooper for visiting and going through water festival with us!

Would you participate in something like this? 

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