What Chedi Luang | Chiang Mai | Thailand

Mom, Jan, and Sandra have arrived in Asia! We started our journey with a brief jaunt in Singapore before having to re-evaluate our plans. Our first stop was Bangkok but due to record rainfall, our plans were foiled. After looking at our options, we decided to go to Chiang Mai a day early.

Our pre-arranged driver wasn't available for our early arrival so we opted to hire our airport taxi driver, Was (yes, that's his name). It seems like many people here double as tour guides. We stopped at various temples around Chiang Mai, the first of which was Wat Chedi Luang. Opulent patterns and serene fixtures were all around.

Yogyakarta | Indonesia

Looking for that special something, with a unique flair? Some oleh-oleh (trip gifts) that your friends back home will enjoy? Welcome to Yogyakarta (or as everyone here calls it, Jogja), shopping capital of Java, for local Indonesian crafts.

Our shopping trip today began at 9 am. Our driver, being the antithesis of every other Indonesian driver on the road, took his sweet time getting us to our destination. After lunch at McDonald's (which is a delicacy when you live in the middle of nowhere), we crossed traffic and began to walk down the main street of handicrafts and local goods called Malioboro. Think Canal Street, Asian style. Anything you could possibly want to remind you of your time in Indonesia was lined up on both sides of the street.

I also had a bit of a chuckle because every few feet, I would see something that we sold at World Market...at a fraction of the price. For instance, take these trays with a retractable mosquito net. World Market: $25, Indonesia: $3.

These guys, who drive baceks (a form of pedi-cab) line the street behind the stalls, begging you to let them take you somewhere. This guy was pretty excited to have his picture taken. 

French fries, Christmas shopping, Starbucks city mug. All around successful day. I can't wait to do it again in three weeks when Debbie, Sondra, and Jan come to visit!

Jawa Tengah | Indonesia

This weekend, I picked a random road and followed it as long as I could. I simply love wandering aimlessly through the mountains and discovering hidden gems in the midst of a simpler life.

On my jaunt, I passed the same caravan twice and as a foreign girl on a motorbike is not a common sight around here, the driver pointed me out and his passengers waved and smiled as I drove by.

Street Legal!

As of Friday, I officially have license plates and a driver's license! This was not an easy task though. While my kids were in specials on Friday, I went to the police station and got my picture and fingerprints taken for my license. In the two months I have been here, I have had my fingerprints taken more than in the rest of my twenty-two years of life! Now, you're not supposed to smile for pictures here so I tried to keep a straight face but being the only woman and only foreigner in a room full of Indonesian men, I naturally attracted a lot of [unwanted] attention which resulted in an interesting picture.

My license plates arrived without holes to attach them with so I had to visit a little bengkel (roadside workshop) to remedy the situation. Here is my guy at work:

I also shot some [really awful] video while driving to give you guys a sense of what it's like to drive here. Buckle your seatbelts!

Here are some shots from my drive back this afternoon. I still can't believe that I live here!

School | Service Week

This past week was service week at Mountainview. For our service project, my 5th graders decided to pair up with the 3rd grade and the 6th grade and put on a carnival for the children of our national staff. The turnout was outstanding and it was great to see so many smiling faces. The kids split into pairs and each made a pinata for a booth at the carnival. We had a chicken, an owl, a dragon coming out of an egg and an M&M. They were so creative!