SINGAPORE (late December)
Over the past few years, we’ve noticed more and more of our friends migrating to Southeast Asia from our Stanford Graduate Christian Fellowship group. So at the start of Christmas break, 10 of us reunited in Singapore for a long weekend. It was a great time of catching up and seeing the city.
This year we made our way to Allentown to celebrate Christmas with the Burkholders.
Instead of meeting up with Todd’s family in Colorado, we all met in San Diego, the home of Todd’s sister, Heather, her husband, Mike, and their adorable children, Kasey and Holden. Heather was 8 months pregnant at the time with Judah (now 5 months old), which made our choice of location an easy decision.
We found out that our entry visas into Myanmar were going to be delayed, so we planned a trip to visit a sister organization in Cambodia for a few days before stopping over in Bangkok to pick up our visas. Visas became so delayed that we ended up spending a week in Cambodia and 10 days in Bangkok.
Back in Yangon, we actually did some work before my mom and sister came to visit! Bryn spent a long weekend in Yangon after a 3 week trip to Madurai India to do cataract surgery.
After Bryn left, my mom and I traveled to a beautiful beach on the western coast of Myanmar and then met Todd at Inle Lake, the Venice of Myanmar. Inle Lake is an incredibly unique culture of people living in raised bamboo huts over the water, making a living through fishing, farming on floating gardens, and selling handicrafts to my mom. :-)
I’m currently working on our next new product, which will launch in September 2012. IDEO, a well-known product design firm from the states, is working with us in the early stages of the project. 3 members of the IDEO team visited in late March and early April for some intensive need-finding and prototyping, which included field trips all over Myanmar to visit rural farmers. (See last blog post for some pics!)
KRABI, THAILAND (mid April)
During the Myanmar New Year holiday, 4 great friends from the states (and an 18 month old!) traveled to Southeast Asia to vacation and visit us. We spent a week with the Browns and Brackens exploring the Adaman islands before heading back to Myanmar with them.
Bagan and Pyin Oo Lwin were the next stops for the Brackens, Browns, and Murphys. From 1200-1400 BC in Bagan, over 5000 temples and pagodas were built in a 16 square mile piece of land. Visitors can climb up the outside of the temples for a stunning view of thousands of pagoda peaks. Pyin Oo Lwin is a cool mountain town where the British would travel to escape the summer heat when they ruled in the early 1900s.
At the end of every farming season, our 250 field staff located all over Myanmar join our 50 Yangon staff to review and celebrate the past season. The week of presentations in Yangon concluded with a whirlwind trip to the beach. We left at 6am Saturday morning, bused 7 hours to the beach, stayed 24 hours, and bused 7 hours back to Yangon. If the road to Chaun Tha were developed to the equivalent of a US freeway, the trip would take about 2.5 hours. Good times.
We are now on our way back to Yangon from Chiang Mai, Thailand. Two Myanmar holidays fell on Friday of last week and Tuesday of this week, so we took off work on Monday and used the long weekend to celebrate our 5-year anniversary coming up in September. In September we’ll be in the middle our season launch- the busiest time of the year for us. Chiang Mai is a truly delightful tourist town in Northern Thailand with the good food, beautiful scenery, and charm of a mountain town in the states. In town we ate well and shopped; out of town we hiked and rode motos. Delightful.
It feels like we spent a majority of our time eating delicious things we can’t find in Yangon – salads, sandwiches, burgers, Mexican food, pizza, pasta, pancakes, bagels, French toast, cheesecake - and no Thai food.