You never really know how the cookie will crumble, and we have the privilege of being reminded of that daily.
We’ve been discussing a trip to Burma: we wanted to see the towns and villages many of our neighbors come from. We have the knowledge that as soon as we are placed for our adoption, we’ll be “stuck” in Thailand for at least six months; and we learned just recently that we also have another visa run we need to make in May…it’s a long story. But visas often crumble a different way than you think 😉
It was mid-February when we realized the easiest time for us to go to these towns and villages was on our current visa, which needed on February 22. That gave us a four-day window between a Reinforcers gig and our visa expiring.
So we applied for our visas to Burma, and they fell into place. So we went.
Some friends wanted to go that week, too, so we explained we could all go together, but we just couldn’t shift our dates at all because of visas. They seemed game, so we all crossed the border after church on Sunday and grabbed a car to take us to their village. It was Stephen & I, our bread baker Nyein Nyein and her husband Kyaw Htet, and their two-year-old Sai Bo Bo.
It’s kind of an event to go to Burma to see family, so Sai Bo Bo was all jazzed up in his best clothes.
In short, many of our neighbors and closest friends–maybe 75%?–are from this one particular town and surrounding areas. And one village just outside is where one bread lady is from, the flower lady and one Reinforcer, Thida–as you can see, a lot of families came from this little fishing village.
That evening we just stopped by, but we did get to see Nyein Nyein’s family. They used to live in Mae Sot and moved back about three years ago, so we knew them all. It was so fun to see the girls grown!
Unfortunately we can’t stay with friends in Burma: we have to stay at foreigner-registered hotels. Their village didn’t even have a store, so no hotels there. We went about thirty minutes further into Thaton, where there is one foreigner-registered hotel, and stayed there. We spent the next two days exploring Thaton while Nyein Nyein spent time with her family.
We spent the majority of our time biking around the city, our favorite way to see a place. It’s just fast enough to see a lot of it, but slow enough to actually see it. And you get exercise while you go! We biked just over 42 kilometers in two days and got to see so much of the city. We actually went about 5 kilometers out of the city in all directions, so…it’s a small town 😊
And it’s a beautiful town.
Our favorite building.
I think I will always love Burmese markets in particular.
We also climbed the local mountain, which is also a temple. Most of Burma & Thailand, at least from our experience, loves to build a temple on top of every mountain. And they love to make concrete steps that go all the way to the top. As a Westerner that prefers sloping, swerving hikes on real dirt and rocks, it isn’t my favorite. But it’s growing on me. I’m learning to love the views out rather than the feel beneath my feet.
So we climbed 903 steps.
My favorite part was near the top, when I was sitting to have a snack and water. A little boy came up to where he could see me over the steps and immediately turned around and shouted, in Burmese, at the top of his lungs, “Brother! Sister! There’s a white woman up here eating a snack!” I smiled and said hi, and asked why he wasn’t at school today. Instead of answering, he turned back around and shouted, “And she speaks Burmese!” 😂
By far the most fun part of the trip was just how natural it felt. We knew the language to get around, to get directions, to order. It was so simple compared to Mae Sot, where we are constantly switching languages or smashing them together.
We also knew the culture in a way we don’t usually. Mae Sot is such an extreme melting pot, and while we’ve learned the culture of this town specifically, we often feel at a loss when we are in a large Thai city or even meeting with our adoption caseworker. But the culture we know best–right in the neighborhood around us–just exploded into this town, and it felt oddly familiar. Yet another home.
On Wednesday, we went back through Thaton and visited Nyein Nyein’s family again before heading back to Mae Sot.
Nyein Nyein’s little brother and two little sisters spent so much time at our house growing up. Now they are attending school in Burma, and it was so lovely to see them.
Part of the village many of our friends are from. It’s right on the river, and they say every family has a boat. Fishing and shrimping (?) are the two primary livelihoods.
And they took us to the temple. It’s kind of the only thing to do in most towns, but especially villages of this size. They also fed us shrimp, because that’s the village!
Really, we loved the whole trip. We continue to be amazed as God shows us the pieces of the stories we know: learning more about each family, their history, their path to Mae Sot; the path of us becoming friends in the most unlikely ways. And also just how he keeps redeeming each individual relationship.
And somehow, how he’s made another home for us around the world.