Monday, April 11, 2016

Mesmerizing, Enchanting, Magical Myanmar

Sunrise in Bagan

In October of 2015, my friends and I timely (it was right before the elections) got to visit an interesting place- Myanmar. It felt a lot like traveling back in time, and in the many places we went, there was a sense of calm and peace. Perhaps because I was searching for that? It was a great time to stop, look inward and reflect. 

The sceneries and the slower flow of time are I think what I will remember the most- the sun setting over behind the mountains, lush greens moving by the wind breeze, the reflections on the surface of the water, and a sky full of sparkling stars in the middle of the lake. And moonshine so strong that the world beneath the sky looks darker... made me feel the universe. 

Silence too. Moving along, floating along in the lake in our boat, I felt silence and serenity. Living with the sun, the moon and the stars, living alongside nature...perhaps that is what I am seeking and wanting more of in my life. Hmmmm. 

There were lots of exciting "1sts"- like eating a bug, seeing a manually operated ferris wheels... a true adventure in a beautiful place. As always, I wish we had more time to see more! 

All of this was such a contrast from the turbulent history we read on Myanmar, and its fight for democracy... we saw NLD stickers and posters/books their heroine, Aung San Suu Kyi, in many places. Hoping that the sense of peace we witnessed in Burmese nature, will reach the people through democracy as well. 

Reflecting back, I find it so valuable that I am getting to experiencing these events/places real time, through my own senses. The words meant so much more as I shared my experience with the children afterwards. We read about Aung San Suu Kyi's life, discussed about what it means to "fight peacefully" for freedom... There are only 6 to 9 years olds, but children can take it all in so naturally and express how they feel about it. Just that makes me hopeful about our future, and also feel like what I am doing is worth something.

Other posts to follow what we did/where we went! 

Shwedagon Pagoda







Cycling around the ruins...

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Philippines: Palawan island フィリピン:パラワン島

In my first year of my life in Hong Kong, I felt very homesick. Despite having lived in 5 different countries so far, starting over and over again, I felt very scared leaving Japan for this new adventure at age 26. Perhaps it was the idea of committing to a full-time job that actually mattered to me: a dream-come-true of becoming a Montessori teacher, perhaps it was the idea of the unknown... any case, I was surprised at myself how "weak" I felt to take the plunge.


Perhaps because of that, I felt very homesick... and I took many of the opportunities I got to go back home to Japan. I went back for our fall break, Christmas break, spring break, and my summer! I know, a bit excessive... but looking back I feel that I must have needed it- it was an intense year and I need to fall back to an environment and people familiar to me, who I knew had my back. It provided the recharging I needed to keep going.


In February however, for the Chinese New Year holidays, I chose to join fellow coworkers to a trip to the Philippines, to Palawan island. Here are the thoughts I jotted down in my Facebook page after coming back.

Island hopping the first day 
Starfish island

”My first trip to the Philippines was to Palawan Island. Words are not enough to describe the peaceful, beautiful, calm place. First time snorkeling, discovering an amazing world down below with its fun creatures and colors, watching fireflies along a river, swimming between rocks to find beaches and lagoons, are only one of the many things we got to experience. 

First time snorkeling!
Monitor Lizard at the Underground river

Above anything, I was touched by the people. People went out of their way to help us have the best experience. The Palaweños, were very humble, but conscious, amazing problem-solvers, advocates and protectors of their own environment and heritage. 

They have a prison without walls, Iwahig Prison where they have prisoners are “free”. The prisoners are given responsibility to govern themselves and be part of a self-sustaining community through farming and fishing, and their families can move and live with them. A local guide mentioned, by giving the opposite of what they usually get, freedom, the prisoners treasure it and therefore do not leave. 

The butterfly garden work extremely hard to conserve the native species of butterflies. People study which plant each butterfly species need for its survival. Instead of the locals cutting down these plants, they ask them to breed butterflies, keep the plants and sell the cocoons/pupas to the garden for educational purposes. A beautiful helping cycle.

The young tricycle driver on our last day, Edgar, shared to me with sparkling eyes, his dreams of one day having a tricycle painted blue, with a stereo attached so he could bring music wherever he took his passengers. He said to us, “Love is what is most important. What is the point of having money if you don’t have love?” 

A truly vivid place that has taken a special place in my heart. Definitely recommend it to people!” 






Underground River

Best meal!

Hiking to a waterfall

Southeast Asia Travels

During my adventures in Hong Kong- living, meeting people, learning to become a better teacher, I am also very lucky to be able to travel and see wonderful places around Asia. I hope that I can update the impressions of these countries and experiences there in this category of the blog.

The world is such a beautiful place!


In the Philippines, Palawan island, February 2015.