Thursday, January 27, 2011

Two 40lb. Suitcases and One Carryon With the Goods that Would Make a Thief’s Day

I have never left home for very long, so I never knew these tell tale signs you are leaving.  First, you begin to you ask yourself, “Did I pack that?  Let me check the small pile I left behind.  If it is not there, it has to be in the heaping suitcase.”
Second, for every 9 pep talks of encouragement, you get about one comment of concern.  “You know Jen, keep some money in the money belt and some in the purse.”  “Do they have Diet Coke?”  “Don’t cross any borders.”  “Bring toilet paper and extra underwear everywhere you go.”  Or a personal favorite said by my Dad as he walked in the door last night.  “I looked into the safety in Bangkok today, and I printed out some stuff.  I think you are going to be fine.”  Ha, thanks Dad!
That being said, last night I finished packing.  Then bedtime.
I decided to meditate and clear my head, figuring it would be a good jumpstart into my days of meditation ahead.   Ha. You try making your mind quiet before hopping on a plane to go somewhere you have never been, where it is 2 degrees and you have to boil the water you drink!  I took a simpler approach.  “Damn it Jen, at least breath,” I thought, when I realized I was actually holding my breath.  I’m sure I will have times like this in Bhutan where I will feel thankful the meditating monks can’t hear what is going on in my head.  Hey, it is what it is, right?
Fly out of LAX 9PM January 27th.  Arrive in Bangkok 6AM January 29th.  3 days in the sunny city.  4 hour flight to Bhutan February 1st, 2011.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Visa... check!

I'm off to Bhutan for about a year!  After all the reading and planning, I am most excited that I don't exactly know what to expect.  The following cliffnotes may interest you and give you an idea of what I am in for. Here are 20 things I have learned thus far...

  1. It is a small country in the Himalayas between India and China.
  2. The country is run on Gross National Happiness (GNH).
  3. The kingdom is improving their education system, and UCSB has been creating a partnership with them over the past few years.
  4. Although my credential is in Special Ed, I look forward to giving General Ed a shot, and I will be teaching 4th and 5th grade literature.
  5. The schools in Bhutan have morning meditation every day.
  6. I will wear a kira 6 days a week.
  7. Bhutan had a ban on television and the Internet until 1999.
  8. In the capital, Thimpu, where I will be living, there are no traffic lights.  There was one traffic light for a few days, until the Bhutanese decided it was too impersonal and replaced it with the more standard option; an impeccably dressed police officer directing traffic with elaborate gestures.  It's no LA.
  9. My new home will be at about 8000 ft.
  10. There are 699,847 people in all of Bhutan.
  11. Bhutan is very environmentally friendly and has been recognized for its conservation of land.
  12. The Bhutanese paint phallus's on the houses in honor of a Buddhist master "The Devine Madman".  (You may be getting a calendar with penis pictures next Christmas.)
  13. Bhutan has the world's youngest king.  You can find him on facebook.
  14. To marry someone, you move in with them.
  15. The signature dish is chillies and cheese.  They also serve yak butter.
  16. The country is home to animals such as snow leopards, tigers, elephants, rhinos, and takin.
  17. If you get bit by a dog, you wash for 30 minutes and get shots within 48 hours, which is the incubation time for rabies.
  18. I will be called Madame.
  19. I may not wear shorts for a year.
  20. Tashi Delek means "blessings and good luck".