Holiday in the Land of the Thousand Pagodas

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A few months ago, my husband, Yanto Usbobo, told me that the FK exchange program offers a family visit grant for its participants. He told me that he would apply for it so that we
can celebrate Christmas and New Year together. On the first week of November, I received a message that his request was approved. This means that I will have the chance to visit him in
the Land of the Thousand Pagodas – Myanmar.

On the first week of December, I went to the ITP office in Jakarta for our hometown of Kupang in West Timor to prepare all the documents needed for the trip. Together with Plu Reh, the
PeaceComm fellow posted in Indonesia, we went to the Myanmar embassy to apply for the visa. Finally after three days, I received my visa.

It was on December 19 that I and my son, Caelo, finally had the chance to set foot in Myanmar. We took the early morning flight from Jakarta to Yangon via the Malaysia Airlines. The trip took
almost the whole day because we needed to transit via Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. We arrived in Yangon at around 11 am and my husband waited for us outside the airport. We went directly
to the PeaceComm apartment in Hledan and had lunch with Dwight, the PeaceComm fellow from the Philippines.

In our first day in Myanmar, we went to Shalom Foundation, the host organization of my husband, and met Director Rev. Saboi Jum and some other members of the staff in Yangon. They were so kind and received us very warmly.

On December 24, we took part of the Christmas party of Shalom Foundation in Yangon. I felt so happy because all of them treated us as family. The next day, we went to mass and attended another party at the Indonesian embassy with all the Indonesian citizens in Myanmar. In the afternoon, we walked around the Kandawgyi Lake in downtown. While going around, I lost my husband’s camera. Unfortunately, there were still many pictures in the camera that were not yet saved on our laptops.

My family is also really lucky to join the trip to Myitkyina in Kachin State to celebrate the New Year and the 10th anniversary of Shalom Foundation. On December 26, we prepared all our
things for the eight-day trip to Myitkyina. Together with all the Shalom staff, we left Yangon by bus at around 8 pm. We arrived in Mandalay the next day. While waiting for our train to
Myitkyina, we visited different tourist spots in Mandalay. By 4 pm, we continued our journey to Myitkyina. The train ride took almost 22 hours.

The next day, we had a Christmas party, this time with all Shalom staff from Yangon and Myitkyina. At the party, we also met some of the ethnic leaders from several states. It was the
first time for me to eat authentic Myanmar food and it tasted very similar with Indonesian food.

On December 31, we attended the 10th anniversary celebration of Shalom Foundation and the Kachin Traditional Harvest Dinner. I wore the traditional Timorese dress while my husband and son wore the batik. It was a wonderful celebration and everyone looked very happy. After the harvest dinner, we went back to the guesthouse while the rest of the staff welcomed the New Year together.

On the first day of 2011, we traveled to Myit-son, the confluence of two big rivers in Myitkyina. It took two hours by bus to reach the place and it was very beautiful as there were beautiful small pagodas, freshwater rivers, small boats and a restaurant on the river.

Interestingly in the afternoon of January 2, immigration officers came to our guesthouse and instructed us to move to another hotel because foreigners are not allowed to stay there. We immediately transferred to a new hotel and stayed there for a night. The next day, we went back to Yangon by plane. On January 6, we flew back to our home country of Indonesia.

It was truly a memorable trip to Myanmar. We were able to go to different places and we experienced a lot of new things. I would like to thank FK Norway who sponsored our family visit to celebrate Christmas with my husband. I would also like to thank EBC and ITP who helped us with the family visit proposal. And lastly, we would also like to thank Shalom Foundation for being such a wonderful host.

Let’s all continue to work for peace and may God bless our lives.

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