As a family nomadic, 2012 saw us split our time nearly evenly between Burma/Myanmar and Sweden. My wife and I sat down and put together a list of the Top 12 and Bottom 12 things about each country according to our experiences. (There is no particular order to the list.)
Burma Top 12
- Friends – as a family nomadic it always seems we are working to establish new meaningful friendships, but as our time in Burma came to a close, we felt that we had a really awesome group of friends, which we sorely miss.
- Work – the work that we were doing in Burma was really rewarding and the work environment and our colleagues at the American Center were second to none.
- Food – no not the Burmese food (though pickled tea/ginger salad is missed), but there was a restaurant called Sharkey’s that had a Grilled Pumpkin Salad that my wife loved, and Kumari’s home cooked Indian food is missed by us all, as well as fresh mangos and other tropical fruits.
- Sunset Dinners @ Signature Garden Bistro at Kandawgyi Lake
- Cheap tennis lessons
- Massages – it was very easy to maintain a nice and pampered life style, and all haircuts came with a good 20 minute head massage shampoo to boot.
- The honest & friendly people of Myanmar – never have we been in a country where the people have been so genuinely kind.
- Just the sense of adventure for living in such a foreign land.
- Inle Lake – and other points of destination within Burma…so much to see and so much of it we have yet to see.
- Forced trips to Bangkok, Thailand every 10 weeks – while it was also a pain, it was really nice to get to such a fun cosmopolitan city every ten weeks or so.
- K’s best friend – he still talks about him and misses him dearly
- Shwedagon Pagoda – we had a view of this amazing structure from our apartment and I passed it on my way to work nearly every day.
Burma Bottom 12
- Weather – the suffocating, drown in my own clothing, heat and humidity and then rain.
- Unsafe transportation – “Umm…is that the road I see beneath my feet Mr. Taxi driver?”
- Where are the playgrounds? – No, the ones without rusty nails and splintered slides?
- GOB – The Government of Burma…even with the recent changes, we are still not fans.
- Lack of guaranteed visa security and constant threat of deportation – can’t really go into too much detail, but many of you know what I am talking about.
- Not knowing the language – sure I could tell the taxi driver where I wanted to go, but I am sure there were deeper more meaningful conversation waiting to happen.
- The Tap Water – “K, don’t drink your bath water!”
- What internet connection?
- The censorship – of media, of internet, of self.
- Wait…that equals about 50 cents per diaper!!
- The Rape of the Nation’s Natural Resources – still ongoing and only bound to get worse, & the ongoing Ethnic/Religious tensions and civil wars.
- Maternity Leave – my wife really misses those extra naps throughout the day.
Sweden Top 12
- Walks through the forest.
- Disc Golf
- Work – for my wife
- Small town living
- The Tap Water – go a head and drink up.
- Consistently stocked grocery stores
- Driving – oh how I missed driving.
- New Friends – always nice to meet some really nice folks.
- Being a Hemmapappa (stay-at-home dad) and the time with my boys.
- The Christmas Markets
Sweden Bottom 12
- Not knowing the language…still.
- All mail and official documents are sent to us in Swedish – (see #1)
- Black Ice
- Making new friends (for both adults and kids) – Swedes seem to be quite the quiet and reserved folk, making it a bit challenging in this department.
- The Shared Laundry System -a future blog post will be dedicated to this.
- Sunset at 3:30pm – and sunrise not until 8:30am…that’s a lot of darkness.
- The enclave nature of this community – while being diverse, it is very divided.
- Lack of any solid job prospects for me come next year – we want to stay…but might not be able to.
- Division between IKEA and non-IKEA folk.
- Expensive – really…you are charging how much for a hair cut and not even including a shampoo or head massage?
- Not knowing what is going on – part language, part not being part of IKEA, part of small town not having established expat networks; but all really annoying.
- Still being distant from our families – not that we want to live too close, but it would be kinda nice to spend a little more time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
I know that I am a bit late on the whole “Year in Review” thing, but I find a lot less motivation (time) to maintain this blog while my wife is off of work and both boys are home all day. If you would like to add to the lists here, your top/bottom things about each of the countries mentioned above, please leave a comment here to share with others. Thanks.