Thinking back to the moments that made up 2016 makes my heart swell because they were filled with adventure, laughter, travel, family, new experiences, delicious food, friends, and all of the things that make my soul happy. Kim and I were lucky enough to start our third year living abroad as I continued to teach High School Art as well as starting as a Technology Integration Specialist at the elementary level of an International School in Yangon, Myanmar. We spent the first half of the year in our apartment we shared with two dear friends, then I spent the beginning of the summer becoming a certified yoga teacher before sharing the rest of the summer with my family in Maine, and returning to Southeast Asia in the fall, traveling in bits throughout the whole year. I still enjoy going back to visit my 14 Adventures of 2014 blog post as a little peek into that year of exciting changes so I thought I would return to the idea and create another reminiscent post for 2016. So here it is, 16 Epic Parts of 2016:
Kim and I woke up on the first morning of 2016 to the sound of the ocean lapping against our boat as we cruised through Halong Bay, one of Vietnam’s most beautiful landforms. The limestone crests jutted out of the water to every side of us as we peacefully sailed along into the new year. After that we found our way up into the mountains of Sapa and spent days motor biking the chilly twisting mountain roads. What a way to start out the year!
15. Biggest Buddha in the World
When we do my dream road trip across the US I am going to have to plan lots of extra time because I am a sucker for “biggest in the world” things. Let’s be honest here, who isn’t? Okay, maybe it’s just me. Nonetheless, when we visited the quiet Myanmar town of Hpa-An I heard that there was the biggest reclining Buddha in the World just a short ways away and I was sold. Of course we HAD to go see it. I also thought it was a great idea to take the scenic route which ended up being a very long, very dusty, dirt road. Our motorbike was not impressed (nor was the driver – Kim). Just as the sun was setting we managed to pull into Win Sein Taw Ya and it was quite the spectacular site. This paired with a weekend of cave exploring and motorbiking with friends made for a memorable time.
14. Our First No Plans Trip
10 days and no plans, that’s how our trip to the Philippines started in April. With nothing booked besides our plane tickets, we backpacked our way through the Philippine island of Luzon where we hiked to see hanging coffins, ate empanadas on the cobblestone streets of Vigan, and enjoyed to waves of Pagudpud. Although it was not the “perfect” vacation that I could have neatly planned, it was worth it in so many surprise ways.
13. Solo Art Exhibition
In May I completed one of my top artistic goals, to host my first Solo Art Exhibition. The body of work was a series of digitally manipulated (glitched) photographs of Myanmar culture. Since this country is still not completely free (earlier this year a man was imprisoned for using an image of Buddha in a bar advertisement), I held the show in a private location as invitation only. The completion of the show was also intended to model the process of exhibiting your work as a working artist for my advanced art students who also had to host similar shows on their own.
12. Yoga Training in the Indian Mountains
I’m not sure how to summarize the life-affirming experience of yoga training in one simple paragraph so please head over a read the long version of my month in India learning the traditional and modern approaches to yoga. After a month of practicing, learning anatomy, questioning everything through philosophy, and more practicing, I accepted my yoga teacher certification as a full fledge yoga instructor.
11. Megan’s Nashville Bash
Directly after yoga training I flew from India straight to Nashville, Tennessee where the beautiful Meg was parting away with her fantastic gang of girls. It was a weekend of cowboy boots, honkey tonks, and tons of drinking. Unfortunately for me it also included catching some sickness on the plane and being in bed for a good chunk of the time. Nonetheless, it was a time to remember, cowboy hats and all.
10. 2 Weeks (2 Short) in Maine
Such a short amount of time but in just two weeks I squeezed in SO much love, laughter, and memories. For what felt like a blink of an eye, I was surrounded by all of my favorite people and just thinking about the long summer days we spent camping, BBQing, lounging around, and just hanging out fills me with so much happiness.
09. Meatless Me
Okay, this one is not one moment in time but it is HUGE and deserves a slot; half way through the 2016 year I decided to no longer eat meat. It is something that I have considered for some time for many reasons, health wise, ethics wise, and environmental wise. It has had its challenges but for the most part has been rather easy thanks to the goddess that is my wife who has taken on my vegetarianism as inspiration and is constantly concocting delicious new meatless creations. Mainly I feel like I am living less in duality now, that my beliefs match my actions, and that makes my soul happy.
08. Maine Island Clam Bake
Cabbage Island is a small piece of land just of the coast of Boothbay harbor, Maine. It is also the location of one of the oldest Clam Bake traditions in the North East. Kim and I spent an afternoon with her family, Robin and Steve, sailing about the coast before enjoying lobster, clams, corn, potatoes, onions, and other goodies that were cooked under a blanket of seaweed. Nothing tastes more like Maine than that!
07. Road Trip Around Israel
What is better than a summer road trip? How about a summer road trip with three of your favorite people!? How about a summer road trip with three of your favorite people discovering a new country!? On our way back to Southeast Asia in July, Kim and I stopped in Israel to visit my sister Amanda and her husband Josh (who were there while Amanda completed a summer program and internship for her Law degree). Our short visit brought an overflow of fun as we road tripped around Israel. We explored the city of Tel Aviv, walked through the streets of Jeruselum, stopped to ride a camel in the Judaian desert, awed at the mini grand canyon in Ramon Crater, and took a mud bath in the dead sea. I don’t think there were another four days this year that were filled with more fun, exploration, exciting new things, adventure, or love.
06. Meandering Through a Japanese Garden
I did not expect to find peacefulness when I went to the giant city of Hong Kong for a work conference in September, actually I didn’t expect to like it all that much. Fortunately, both of those were way off. Hong Kong is a fascinating city with so much uniqueness, all of which I enjoyed very much. My favorite part of it though was not the huge shopping centers or the bustling streets, but rather a quiet little park called Nan Lian Garden which echoed that of a Japanese Tea Garden. I had learned about these in my college Asian Art History class. The pathways are twisted and uneven to purposefully induce slow walking. Landscapes are created to produce the most picture perfect views with every branch and stone as an intentional brushstroke in the most stunning painting. Water is trickling and soft music is drifting through the leaves adding to the meditative atmosphere. Asian gardens are not manicured pieces of land, they are living art work experiences.
05. Snorkeling in the Andaman Sea
With such an exciting year, Kim and I decided to take our “fall” break and chill out on some of the best beaches in the world. Lucky for us these are found right next door in southern Thailand. We spent the week snorkeling off Koh Phi Phi, enjoying the sunset on Railay beach in Krabi, soaking in the natural hot springs, and adventuring around. The most memorable time for me being the spectacularly turquoise blue waters that were so stunning in color it was almost unbelievable.
04. Half Marathon Trail Run
Sometimes I get some crazy idea in my head and it just sticks. I’m trying to go along with my life and it is sitting over in the corner of my brain tapping its fingers, waiting for me to pay attention to it. This was one of those ideas. On a warm November morning I spent 3+ hours running 13.1 miles through the mud on trails in the Myanmar mountains to complete my first ever half marathon. My legs were shaking but my smile could not have been bigger when I crossed the finish line to a greeting of friends and congratulations. It took a lot of hard work, early mornings, and focused training, but I did it!
03. Yee Ping Mass Lantern Release
When I first decided to move to Asia I began a list of interesting places to visit and three years later I have forgotten everything on that list except for this one. It took a few years to manage the timing and to get ahold of tickets but it was worth the long wait. On the November full moon I joined hundreds of others on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, Thialand, in a mass release of sky lanterns and it was the most breathtaking sight I believe I have ever seen.
02. A Month on the Indonesian Islands
I didn’t have a lot of expectations, or plans, when we got on the plane for our winter vacation in Indonesia but by the time we left three weeks later I was head over heals about the string of islands. Starting off on Java we adventured to the highest peaks at the top of Mt. Bromo, an active volcano, then down into the blue lake Ijen Crater to view the blue fire alight from the sulfur gases. By the time we got to the island of Bali we more than enjoyed a much needed rest at our friends Ashley and Matt’s villa. The day after Christmas we grabbed a motorbike and hit the road to spend two weeks cruising along the coast, up the mountains, through the rice terraces, and by the temple towns of Bali. We spent New Years at a black sand beach, saw dolphins, got drenched in a mountain down pour, enjoyed mornings of yoga and monkey walks, and so much more. I can see now why Bali stays in the heart of so many, it has a way of rooting down into your soul.
2016 was a year of epic proportions filled with more adventures than most people get to experience in a lifetime and I am so very grateful to call this my life. Yet, not one of these moments would have been half as amazing if I didn’t have my beautiful wife by my side. Her constant encouragement and support through all of my dreams, big and small, makes my life so much fuller. Whatever plan or crazy idea I conjure up is always met with a Yes! My travel companion, my fearless motorbike driver, and my goddess of a chef; the one who always makes me laugh (even when it’s the last thing I want to do) I am so thankful to have celebrated two full years of marriage this year. I read somewhere once that if you love someone, travel with them, for then you will know their true self; happily I can say that I have found someone who loves my truest self right back and that is the most epic part of them all.
Inle lake is a serene body of water nestled between two mountain ranges in the mid-west of Myanmar. About 10 hours north of the central city of Yangon, the name, Inle Lake, often refers not only to the lake itself but also to the many villages that rest along the shore that depend on the lake for survival. A true fishing town, the lake is famous for the traditional fishermen who row their long wooden boats by wrapping a leg around an ore and using a specialized cone shaped fishing net.
Taking advantage of a few days off from work thanks to a full moon holiday, Kim and I took the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and search for some peace in one of Myanmar's "must see" areas. We took an overnight bus through the twisting dirt roads and got dropped off at 4am at a road-side stop in the seemingly middle-of-nowhere. Blinking our sleepy eyes awake we flagged down a pick-up truck taxi, with two rows of wooden benches in the bed, and squeezed in with a couple other weary travelers. The air was cool and the sky was blacker than we have seen it in months, all signs reminiscent of the quite country landscapes we left back in Maine.
After a few hours of rest in our sparse but comfortable room at Zawgi Inn, we woke up ready to explore. Following the advice from the aged Burmese Inn keeper, we borrowed two of his bicycles and, hand drawn map in hand, began our trek around the lake. Welcomed sites of dirt trails, stretches of green fields, and mountains in the distance, greeted us at every turn.
After a couple hours of biking we had rode around the top of the lake over to the other side where we hired a boat to take us across. This was our first glimpse into life on the lake which was filled with houses on posts, children playing in wooden boats, and an expanse of water perfectly reflecting the sky above it.
When we reached the other side we stopped at a small side stand for a bowl of Shan Noodles, a traditional Burmese dish that originates from Shan State - which is exactly where we were! It was a tasty little snack but our tummies were still rumbling as we began the trek back up to the hotel. Luckily we spotted a well-known winery along the way that I had been looking forward to stopping at. We followed the long and steep road up to the top of a hill where we were rewarded with a beautiful surroundings at the Red Mountain Estate Winery. We soaked in the day as we sipped the delicious wine and indulged in tasty dishes, finishing it all off with a slice of decedent chocolate cake.
Chasing the sunset back to the hotel, we passed small pagodas positioned precariously next to gas stations and continued on the single dirt path back into town. It was a truly adventurous day filled with equal parts wandering and serenity and we simply could not wait to see what the next day was going to bring.
The day of love has arrived and it is very apparent in Yangon. Shop fronts with heart decorations, bakeries with pretty cookies, red roses for sale on every corner, lovers holding hands as they walk down the sidewalk, and restaurants filled with couples enjoying special treats. Although this may sound like any western city around Valentines Day, I am speaking of the sights I saw walking around Yangon today. The young generation of Burmese just love to celebrate western holidays and Valentines Day is certainly no exception.
Kim and I don't usually do anything too special for Valentines Day. We have made the occasional meal for one another and exchanged cards or small items of sentiment but the day has always stood as more of an opportunity to have an excuse to be extra thoughtful towards each other. Since this was our first Valentines Day as a married couple and the first major holiday we have been able to spend together in a while, I thought it would be nice to start a new tradition: Valentines Day Scavenger Hunt!
Step 1: Go to the Japanese $1.60 Store and buy each other funny gifts
Step 2: Get picnic food
Step 3: Go to the park and enjoy a quiet picnic
Step 4: Hide the gifts from each other in the park and create a note/picture/treasure map to the gift
Step 5: Exchange said note/picture/treasure map, find gifts, and laugh
What actually happened:
Step 1 went off without a hitch. We made it across town to the Japanese $1.60 Store and went in one at a time to buy each other gifts.
Step 2 was a little more challenging. We then went to purchase some food for our picnic but when we got to the grocery store it was very difficult to find food that would be suitable for picnic eating. We were at a different grocery store than usual and had a hard time finding anything that would transport well. Instead we decided to wander the streets and pick up some street food along the way. As we were looking for something tasty we stumbled upon Spaghetti Italian Kitchen. As you probably know, Kim and I are BIG Italian fans so it was just meant to be.
Step 3 After our super tasty lunch we walked to the park only to find a huge festival there. See today is the 100 birthday of Bogyoke Aung San who was a Burmese general back in the 1940's. He was responsible for bringing Burma's independence from the British and is well praised by all Myanmar citizens. Throughout the park there were booths selling food and merchandise, concerts, photo exhibits, tributes to Aung San, and other celebratory areas.
While we were there we found a caricaturist who happily drew cartoon versions of Kim and me as a crowd of interested bystanders looked on. The final product is quite . . . um . . . interesting. Introducing: Gangster Kim and Long-Faced Alisa
The park was very busy due to the festival, the fact that it was a Saturday, and that it was Valentines Day. Going to the park is a favorite activity for young couples, they usually pick a nice grassy spot and set up an umbrella or two for privacy then spend the afternoon smooching and cuddling. This made it impossible to follow Step 4 of our plan because there was no way we would be able to hide anything without someone running after us to return what we obviously left behind.
On the bright side the busy park made for great people watching. I noticed two prevalent Valentines Day themes. The first being GIANT teddy bears. Seriously, I think the requirement for buying a teddy bear for your significant other is that it needs to be at least half of their size.
The second custom I noticed was matching clothing. All over the city we saw couples with matching shirts, or specifically designed two part shirts. For instance, a man was wearing a shirt that said "Will you marry me?" and his partner's shirt said "Yes, I do." Sometimes I noticed a mother and daughter following the trend, or two friends, or even a group of people. I tried to be sneaky and grab a few shots of these shirts as we walked through the park.
Step 4 Since we couldn't complete our scavenger hunt at the park we decided to finish it in our apartment building later in the evening. We took turns going out into the building and hiding the gifts then making our notes/drawings/treasure maps. I was giddy with excitement as we exchanged our notes and followed each other around the building. It was so fun, I think as Kim got close to her gift I was literally jumping up and down.
Step 5 Kim's note said "It's up high, you can see gold and hear lots of noise from the street."
This led me up to the top floor of the building where we had gone up once and noticed that we could see Shwedagon Pagoda. I found a bag tide to the railing with my gift inside. Kim had picked me out a funnel which is simply perfect because I make my own juice every morning and have the hardest time pouring it into the bottle that I drink it from. She is so thoughtful.
For my note I drew a treasure map along with this riddle:
"You will find your gift on the floor above the fifth
but don't be fooled, it's not on the sixth.
You will know you are in the right spot
if you hear singing and see 3 plants in pots.
Behind what you would use if a fire was in sight.
Don't be distracted by Shwedagon, the bright."
I hid the gift on the fourth floor (the third floor elevator door has a 5 on it) behind a fire hose. For the gift I chose a funny Japanese game that involves a gorilla who shoots out of a barrel when a certain peg is pulled out. The last picture is of Kim's face after she finally pulled the peg and the gorilla shot up to the ceiling and hit our kitchen light.
It has been such an eventful day. A fantastic random restaurant find, a surprise festival, Myanmar culture mixed with western traditions, a warm day in the park, a caricature of ourselves, a SUPER fun scavenger hunt, and starting a new holiday tradition with my love. Happy Valentines Day from Myanmar to you!
There is only one word that can truly summarize this year: adventure. There has been more change in the last 365 days than any other point in my life and with change comes spectacular opportunities. The year was filled with family, culture, food, photography, travel, celebrations, and huge life changes. It has been a beautiful journey and I have loved sharing it with you. Here are 14 AMAZING things that made 2014 an epic year.
14. Rode an Elephant & Got Chased by Monkeys
Not too far from my new home is a park where you can visit a variety of different animals. Halwga National Park is most well known for it monkey filled area where you can drive through and meet creatures along the way. We spent an afternoon feeding monkeys out the car window and getting to know the elephants that we were lucky enough to get a chance to ride on.
13. Help Portrait & FotoMarathon
I participated in two photography events this year. The first was FotoMarathon Yangon where we were challenged to go out in groups and take photos around town based on specific themes that were sent to us every two hours. You can read all about it here. Shortly after that I helped lead a group of students in creating a Help-Portrait event. This is a worldwide initiative that I also participated in when I was in Maine. The event involves taking photos for families who would not normally be able to afford professional photography, we invited the local staff and trishaw drivers from the school, dressed them up, did their makeup and hair, took their portraits, and printed out photographs for them to go home with that day. It was a beautiful experience that was not about taking photographs but about giving them. (Post coming soon)
12. Taunggyi Fire Balloon Festival
As many of the best things do, my trip up to Tanuggi for the famous Fire Balloon Festival came very spontaneously as a weekend getaway with my friend Ashley. Thousands of people flock to the otherwise quiet town of Tanuggi each year to witness and participate in the traditional act of launching fire balloons. It was an experience like no other. Read about the whole festival here (videos included).
11. Watched Amanda & Josh Exchange Vows
The hardest day of homesickness I have had was the day of Amanda and Josh's wedding. Luckily we have amazing technology now that allowed me to watch the entire event. I stayed up all night since there is a 12 hour time difference and was able to skype/facetime in for everything from getting ready, formal pictures, ceremony, reception, cake, toasts, dance party and everything in between. Although I wish I could have been by my little sister's side and joined in with my family I was certainly celebrating from afar. Photo credit to Pipyr Photo.
10. New food. SO much new food.
Myanmar was certainly not love at first taste, it has taken quite a while to find the true gems of the cuisine but now that we have there is no going back! Tofu Noway, Kay-O, Tomato Salad, Steamed Dumplings, Fried Tofu, Mohinga, and so much more. This year has truly been an adventure for my tastebuds alone now if only I could adjust to the spices.
9. Safari in Africa
No trip to Africa is complete without a Safari and I completely understand why. There is no experience like that of watching a baby zebra nuzzle it's mother or a herd of elephants protecting their young. Sure I've seen most of these animals in zoos before but being able to watch them in their environment, in their world can't compare. My favorite were the giraffes with their long legs and their even longer necks, seeing them galloping around on their stilt-like legs was quite the site.
8. Honeymoon in Cancun
Although we were crunched for time after our wedding with only two months before the big move we wanted to take a breather and enjoy married life. With our big adventure right around the corner we decided the perfect honeymoon would be relaxing on the beach with drinks in our hands so we headed to the best place for it, an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, Mexico. We spent five beautiful days with our feet in the sand, swimming in the spectacular pools, drinking all sorts of tasty beverages, indulging in choice restaurants, and enjoying our new time together as a married couple. Although it was hard to pull off (scheduling and other wise) this was the absolute best wedding choice we made and I will always look back on this time fondly. See the rest of the photos here.
7. Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival
Unforgettable experiences are around every corner of my new life in Myanmar, but certainly one of the most spectacular has been the trip we took in October to Inle Lake. We were very fortunate to visit at the time of the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival which is a celebration that involves ferrying around five giant golden buddha statues to each town in the lake. The lake is so big that it takes almost a month to complete the whole route. Not only did we get to watch the parade but we also got to experience the rest of the stunning Inle Lake including traditional leg-rowing fishermen, long-neck women weaving, traditional silversmiths, hand paper weavers, the floating gardens, and my favorite, the crumbling pagodas of Indein. (PS Blog post coming soon with sooooo many more photos)
6. Welcomed Baby Zane into the World
Zane Andrew Simmons joined the world on March 8th. I can't believe this little peanut is over 9 months old now! He is such a sweet little boy who has brightened every life around him since he arrived most certainly the lives of his parents, my sister, Andrea, and my brother-in-law, Steve. I have missed him dearly since I have been away, luckily Andrea has been great at sharing about all the milestones - big and small - with pictures, stories, and videos. Can't wait until I get to snuggle this little guy again!
5. Photographed 5 Stunning Weddings
Capturing the moments of one of the most special days in a persons life is an honor and privilege, I know that sounds cheesy but it honestly is. The joy, celebration, and love that fills a wedding is unparalleled. Leaving behind Adorn photography was very difficult for me because I truly loved every minute of photographing wedding and portraits. Within the first few months of the year I was invited by five spectacular couples to photograph their wedding days and each one was so very special. I am certain about few things in my future but one of them is that I know I will return to photographing weddings at some point in my life. For now I will enjoy using my passion to capture the world around me through my travel photography.
4. Spent the Holidays with Renee in Tanzania
Ask either of us just a few years ago if we thought we would be spending the holidays together on safari in Africa or on the beaches of Zanzibar and both Renee, my sister, and I would have simply laughed. Such an unlikely story for two small-town New Englanders. Yet, this is exactly where we found ourselves this holiday season, see just two weeks before my winter break from school Kim flew back to Maine to be with her ill father which left the perfect opportunity for me to hop the Indian Ocean to visit Renee. Renee has been living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for almost two years now where she freelances web design when she is not busy working on her passion of free diving and the resulting website www.seaunseen.com. We spent three amazing weeks celebrating the holidays, on safari, hanging out on the beach, diving, and having some much needed sister time.
3. Found Juicing and Lost 50 Pounds
It was actually December of 2012 that I started my health and fitness journey, dedicating most of 2013 to challenging myself physically and educating myself on proper health and nutrition. In January of this year I made the ultimate commitment to a 30 day juice fast and my life has not been the same since. Juicing allowed me to realign my expectations of food and reset my appetite. It not only gave me results in appearance but in self-confidence and strength of mind. With my juicing I finally felt in control of my body. I took the beginning of this year to fully commit to myself, focusing on goals like working out everyday and setting up a regular meditation schedule. It was an amazing time that I hope to revisit now that my life has settled down.
2. Moved 8151 miles away to Yangon, Myanmar
Without a doubt, the craziest thing that happened this year was packing up our belongings and moving to -literally- the other side of the world. Following my dream to teach abroad, Kim and I picked up and left everything behind (that couldn't fit in our 6 suitcases) to explore the world. Three days and 8151 miles later we found ourselves in a land like nothing we ever knew before. Myanmar has been everything we never expected, our time filled with awe, frustrations, curiosity, and a whole lot of laughter.
1. Married my Love
Without a doubt the most important day of 2014 was May 10th, the day that I married my love, Kimberly. As with any journey, who you travel with can be more important than any destination and nothing could have been half as wonderful this year without this amazing person by my side. Having someone to share in all of the adventures I have had this year and will continue to have into 2015 and beyond it the best thing I could ask for.
(Read all about our full wedding day here. Photo credit to Justine Johnson Photography.)
A Punk Rock Photography Exhibition in Myanmar? Of course I had to check this out when I was invited by a friend and fellow teacher. Her boyfriend is a part of a Myanmar punk rock band. This band along with a number of others makes up a movement called Jam It! Completely made up of independent bands, Jam It! started as a small group of musicians getting together and playing their music and now they play in public venues for free to promote their music and create a scene.
It was a small space on the fourth floor of some unmarked building but as soon as you stepped into the stairwell you could hear the music streaming down below. Along with acoustic performances by members of various bands, the space was filled with huge prints of photojournalistic photographs that were taken at the different Jam It! events. It was an interesting night, defiantly not my usual scene but defiantly worth it.
On Saturday we wanted to stay close so we decided on an adventure in our own neighborhood. I had heard about a giant reclining Buddha that was near us. After investigating further I found out that not only was it near us but it was just a short walk away. With the help of three different Yangon maps and Google maps I set on a route in my head and we headed out. After turning down a side street off of a busy main road and before we knew it we were in the middle of nowhere. We found ourselves on a dirt road with tropical foliage on both sides. We past a meditation center and a monastery, we stopped into an art gallery inside someone’s house and found some crumbling structures. We saw monks collecting their Alms (donations from neighbors) and lots of beautiful tropical flowers. It was a very interesting walk.
People who don't have the money to put up razor wire to protect their houses will spread broken glass on the ledges of the surrounding walls. I loved the juxtaposition with the flowers growing right next to the glass.
It was a very cool walk and nice to be out and about without seeing any vehicles. As abruptly as the country scenery started, we turned a corner and were right on the heels of a crazy busy road. I wasn't really sure where to go at this point but luckily enough there was a picture of a reclining Buddha just ahead of us so we followed the sign and easily found what we were looking for.
Monday was Kim's first day of work. The restaurant is still being put together but she went in to start arranging the kitchen and develop the menu. It was very stressful for her to see all the work that had to be done with such a short deadline (they want to open in a week!). But she also really enjoyed beginning a job that she knows she will love.
It was also the first day of us having a cleaner. Kim made arrangements with a lady named Saroja who cooks for some of the other teachers, Kim will be giving her cooking lessons once a week or so in exchange for her doing our laundry and washing dishes (our two least favorite chores). It was very strange to come home to someone else in the house since Kim has greeted me at the door almost every day since we have been here.
Changes are difficult when you are trying to get settled still but luckily these are all good changes.
With Kim working late to get ready for the opening at the restaurant I was left to the task of making my own dinner on Wednesday. If you know me at all you know that this is a BIG challenge for me. There is a reason why I married a chef after all. Usually for dinner I would just eat whatever I could find in the cupboards or order something in. Kim had been trying to teach me some easy dishes that I can make for myself for dinner before we moved but it is so difficult here because we don't have our usual pantry of ingredients and it is really overwhelming. But I had a couchsurfer over named Emi who convinced me that we could make our own dinner. So three hours later we enjoyed a chicken, roasted veggies, and rice. I was pretty proud of myself.
The restaurant was certainly coming along but there was still a bunch to do.
Only 24 hours after the kitchen was put together Kim was asked to create a tasting for the owners of the restaurant and their staff. Needless to say it was a miracle all of it came together due to the crazy circumstances of having to shop for and stock a full kitchen, teach the sous chefs (who don't speak any English by the way), and prepare a meal for a dozen people in such a short amount of time. On top of that this was the first time any of these people would be tasting her cooking so needless to say it was a bit stressful. But if anyone could pull it off that would be our lovely Chef Kimmi.
The tasting was delicious of course, she served us chicken tenders, onion rings, french fries, sweet potato fries, three different kinds of sandwiches, and fresh pasta and marinara sauce. Yum yum yum.
Alisa & Kim
Two expats living, teaching, and eating their way across this beautiful world