Sunrises, pagodas and mohinga noodles

burma1-1 burma1-2 burma1-1-8 burma1-1-7 burma1-1-6 burma1-1-2 burma1-1-3 burma1-5 burma1-7 burma1-8 burma1-9 burma1-10 burma1-1-11 burma1-1-4burma1-1-9 burma1-1-10 burma1-11 burma1-13 burma1-15burma1-12What started as a dream then a whisper that became a tentative plan that hung on the chance of everyone’s holidays aligning (less likely than all the stars and moons and planets pausing in their extraterrestrial paths to spell out OMG) finally became a reality as we travelled to Burma with my family last December, the country that my parents grew up in but left in 1971, barely in their twenties. As I’ve gotten older, for some reason seeing the place that my parents spent their early years in has seemed more and more important. Perhaps I felt that it would help me, for want of a less cliched phrase, figure out who I am or where I fit in.

Burma (also known as Myanmar) is a country that is deeply rich in history and culture. It has gone through many significant events over the last thousand years, including periods of prosperity and dominance, through British occupancy, and unfortunately many wars. It is also home to an incredible number of indigenous ethnic groups, that add to the colour, clamour and, of course, cuisine of Burma. With many places to explore and get lost in, both fast-paced and slow, Burma is a country that truly needs to be experienced, felt and tasted to really understand.

Over the next few posts, we’ll share with you the favourite parts of our three week long journey. We took along no less than five different cameras (granted one was a Fuji Instax), watched five sunrises from a variety of vantage points including a hot air balloon, the top of an ancient temple, and astride a bicycle, pedalling through golden mist. It’s no wonder we took around 6500 photos and whittling them down to just our favourite few has not been an easy job (thanks Jinn!).

Enjoy! If you’ve been to Burma before, we would love to hear about your experiences – for the next time we go, of course! If you’re planning or even dreaming about going and need some travel tips, please do drop us a line!

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Loss and strangers

broome-2014-16The Kimberley moon at dusk

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Sitting next to someone on an airplane can sometimes be awkward. Do you want to talk. Would you prefer to zone out in your secure bubble contained between your armrests, headset firmly on. You were late 40s, 5 o’clock shadow, and looked decidedly friendly (after a surreptitious side glance). So, I ventured out and tested the waters, as I’m a chronic hater of awkward silences.

So is Perth home or holiday destination for you?

Neither! You replied, amiably. You were en route to Broome to work offshore on the ships out that way.

And so I latched on to the cheery but safe subject, prattling on about how much I love Broome, and the conversation meandered agreeably to talk about travelling and bucket lists, so on and so forth. We spoke about our occupations, the bits we like, the bits we find challenging. The conversation flowed effortlessly to and fro, both refreshingly interested in each other’s life experiences and opinions.

Then inevitably we started speaking about family. You’d mentioned a son and a daughter previously so I not-so-cleverly inferred that you had two children. You paused ever so slightly, then said yes. I noted the pause but callously soldiered on. After more questions you volunteered that your eldest son passed away four years ago. We nodded commiseratively together but I didn’t delve, I could hear the pain heavy in your voice. The attention turned my way. And for the first time ever because of your honesty and compelled by the way you spoke with both feeling and calm bravery, I was able to say and acknowledge to a stranger that I had two older brothers. But that I lost one last year.

You understood. You understood why I had to stop speaking at that point. Although you didn’t say much, your compassion and sympathy were apparent. Your sentences became cropped, your voice thick with emotion. You told me that family is everything. You told me that things do get better.

And I believe you. You’ve been there. In fact, you’re still there.

Thank you, John. I might never see you again but thank you all the same from the bottom of a torn but healing heart.

Alphabet Family Journal

Alphabet Family Journal is an upcoming print magazine that celebrates families, big and small, diverse and messy – all the different types of people that come together to make a home. Due to hit the printing presses in June 2014, Alphabet is brainchild of Sydney-based food and lifestyle photographer Luisa Brimble. Issue A is a collaborative effort of 25 photographers from 3 continents, in addition to 22 writers and 3 artists, all sharing stories and images of their own family lives.

Alphabet was initially funded via Kickstarter and reached its target after only a few weeks, however if you check out their page now, you will find there are still a number of very tempting offers left.

I’m super excited to see how Alphabet Family Journal looks in person – it’s about time we saw an Australian publication like this!

31

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So here I am. No longer clinging to my twenties and barrelling head on into my thirties. Although initially reluctant, I am now a lover and reveller of this decade of life.

Sure life brings with it the weight of more responsibilities but slowly and surely through experience and time I am building up a sense of self-knowledge and self-worth that seemed tortuously unattainable before, previously striving unsuccessfully to gain it through academia, popularity, career and parental approval (oh the scourge and blessing of every Asian child). I’ve still got a ways to go but I just get this feeling that I can carry on now focussing more on “being” rather than “trying”.

Family and positive relationships are like light and life to me. As many of you may know, life threw me and my family the massivest of curve balls last year. Over the months I’ve come to realise that this grief and longing and missing are not simply going to go away if I ignore it or make myself too busy to think about it. It is now a part of me. 

But this is my life. I will live it.

And I choose to live it boldly and joyfully.motif

Beloved

manal-saber-wedding-5Attending a wedding of someone precious to you is always an absolute delight. I particularly love to study the faces of family members, almost living vicariously and feeling lifted by the emotions so clearly written in their expressions.

Noted here. A mother’s tender but intensely proud and protective stance, beaming with happiness over her daughter, the bride. The bride, a grown woman but forever a daughter, bowed in love and ultimate respect.

The hands and richly embroidered garments of three women. Mother-in-law, bride and her mother. White, universally symbolic of pureness of heart and devotion. Hands dipped and decorated to reflect the deep religious and cultural traditions that ceremonialise this marriage. They are dyed with the runes of blessings.

A groom, finally allowed to see his beloved on this special day. He bends down to kiss her gently on the forehead, face cupped exquisitely in his hands.

Excitement barely contained behind her veil.

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And so it was…

jinn-bday-4So Jinn has finally joined the elite three-oh club, where one becomes instantly more knowledgeable and wiser in the ways of the world, and yet is still youthful enough to be able to wear skinny jeans and play soccer three times a week. I kind of freaked out when Jinn mentioned FIFTY people were rocking up to our house for his party, but I have to say that with a little (read a lot) of help from my Mumsy, mum-in-law and sis-in-law, a wonderful Moroccan themed dinner was laid out and heartily consumed by all our guests. I also may or may not have ordered five cakes from Boucla, my fave cafe of all time…

We wish there were more photos to share of this special evening, but we were both too busy running around like crazy chooks setting tables and chatting to guests to take very many! Hopefully these pictures give you a hint of what a lovely and charming night we all had, enjoying the perfect balmy evening in the presence of many loved ones.

Happy bee-day, bozo!

Text by Sarah

Photos by Jinn, Gwen and YW

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Up, up & away

hot-air-balloon-8motifThe winds have welcomed you with softness.

The sun has blessed you with his warm hands.

You have flown so high and so well,

That God has joined you in your laughter

And set you back again into the loving arms

Of Mother Earth.

– The Balloonist’s Prayer, Anon.

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