If you travel to Krakow, do not do it with LOT Polish Airlines! The trip from Bangkok to Krakow went okay, but only as far as Warsaw. The last bit between Warsaw and Krakow turned out to be a nightmare. The fog at the Krakow Airport made it impossible for the planes to land there - this in itself was not such a bad thing (although a bit annoying), but the way that the airline handled it was just scandalous… Lack of information, a dirty coach that was supposed to take us from Warsaw to Krakow… which did not have a working heating (mind you, Decembers in Poland are cold), and which broke down in the middle of the way, as it (the coach) was so poorly maintained. If one adds that the driver was rude on top of that, then you will have the whole picture… Truly unprofessional and unpleasant.
Reaching home was wonderful though. Mama right away decided to spoil me with delicious food. Papa made sure that I had some nice drinks, and my brother’s family made sure that we had the most wonderful and traditional Christmas Eve dinner. It was very, very nice!
Today, I am meeting with some high school friends, and later in the week, there will be more encounters with friends too. The time here will be busy, but in the same time exciting!
Before returning to Bangkok next Sunday, I will also make sure to do some shopping and will stock up on some delicacies that one can not buy in Asia. All in all, lots of fun in Poland so far. You are welcome to follow on some of the images, at this gallery.
I have just arrived to the waiting lounge of the Bangkok airport, and waiting for my plane to take me to Krakow via Helsinki and Warsaw. Excited to be going home to see parents, family and friends.
Here comes my short Christmas/end of the year message:
It has been a very hectic year for me, but I am sure that most of you could claim the same! Lots of depressing stuff happened, but then lots of amazing and wonderful things too. 2016 has definitely not been boring! It is easy to keep moaning and complaining about things, so I will not do it, instead I would like to focus on a few things that really worked for me well!
Progress with Tahir’s case – though not success yet
The fantastic news is that Tahir has officially been awarded with the UNHCR refugee status. While this is not the end of his struggle to start a new and fruitful life yet, it is an important step forward. Being recognised as the refugee by UNHCR opens some opportunities for regularising his life. Together with countless amount of friends, we are looking at available options in various places. As we do not have guarantees of any positive outcomes yet, I will refrain from giving you more details at this stage. I would however like to thank all of you, who have supported us in the ways you only could – by helping with writing applications, by supporting Tahir financially, by giving us your encouragement and strength not to give up! I consider your support to help Tahir the most important and wonderful happening of this passing year, and we will always be grateful to all of you for what you are doing! Big, big thank you! Finally in this matter, in case any of you had more ideas on how we could help Tahir – either with regard to his resettlement, getting more qualifications (like online schooling/courses), we will be the most obliged to hear from you.
The year of 2016 has definitely been marked by my efforts of learning Spanish. Carlos – my teacher from Mexico took a challenge to make me learn another language, which at the age of 44 becomes more difficult. Good news is that a few months ago, I managed to pass my official language exam at the level of B2, which suggests that I can communicate in the language in the level that allows me work in it relatively easily. Thank you Carlos for doing it with me! Really appreciate it!
Travels for work
2016 has been filled with many travels around Asia and Europe for work. I promised that my email would not be too negative, so I will only mention that some of these trips made me extremely sad, given amount of senseless injustice and suffering of the communities that I visited around Asia. On the positive side, I should mention however that some of these trips brought interesting new projects that are helping the most disadvantaged victims of humanitarian crises in a few places around South East Asia.
Sri Lanka and Portugal
I also managed to explore new places that I have not seen before in my life. Finally after years of trying to get there, I managed to visit Sri Lanka. I spent there a great week, learning about the history of this amazing place, and visiting sites all over the central and southern part of the island. I should definitely recommend to anyone visiting this gem. Wonderful people and beautiful place to visit.
Then in the beginning of 2016, I officially became a resident of Portugal! It is a very exciting project for me. Portugal is a beautiful place, and I am so much looking forward to making it a permanent home for me. I have officially managed to get most of my paperwork done, and I already hold my Portuguese social security/tax number, an EU residence permit, I have my bank account there, and a place to stay. Now, the next step is to buy a small property there, which I would then start making as my home. I hope that this will become a reality in 2017. While open to all parts of the country, so far, it appears that I may be looking at getting settled in the historic town of Obidos. Look it up on the internet. It really is beautiful.
Finally, tomorrow I am about to fly out to Poland to visit my parents, family and friends for Christmas. I have not been home for Christmas for many years, and I look forward to spend time with the loved ones soon!
At last, but not least, I would like to wish you all, the most wonderful and amazing holiday season. If you celebrate Christmas, may it be the magical time for you, your families and your loved ones: Merry Christmas. If you do not happen to celebrate for whatever reason, I would like to wish you a very nice and peaceful time – hopefully with some days off, so that you can recharge your batteries.
For 2017, I would like to wish us all that it is less troublesome and more peaceful time for all of us. May we all find strength and courage to understand each other, and to reach out to people that we may differ with… I think that we all need it in 2017. I wish you all that 2017 is full of love, happiness, personal and professional advancement to you and your loved ones. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Tomorrow, I am travelling to Cox’s Bazar, the town and the province of Bangladesh situated in south-eastern part of the country. Cox’s Bazar is home to some beautiful beaches, but it is also home to thousands and thousands of Rohingya refugees, who flee from violence Myanmar.
You may have read that there is a severe crisis in Myanmar these days, where Rohingya minority is being subjected to torture, killings, extortion, rape, humiliation and are prevented from enjoying basic rights (including access to health, schools, livelihoods, etc). The suffering of the Rohingya people is extraordinary, and no wonder that many decide fleeing their villages and look for safety.
Bangladesh receives majority of those who flee. As Bangladesh itself in not a wealthy country, clearly the influx of thousands of people is a substantial challenge for the nation. There are many agencies trying to help, and doing anything possible to meet the basic needs of the refugees and the host communities, but operations are sensitive and difficult.
I am slowly getting adjusted to my life in Dhaka. Things are slow, and lots of my personal logistics is still not sorted. I have severe movement limitations (no transport), which in Dhaka is a major issue, as the public transportation is far from reliable. Then again, it is a very interesting city and lovely people around, so all in all things are good.
Tahir seems to be holding well in Bangkok on his own. He has enrolled to a gym, and allegedly goes there every day. Except doing some exercises, he is also meeting new people, which is good, as he feels a bit less lonely, as we wait for outcomes of his resettlement applications.
Good news is that I am travelling to Bangkok on 11th December, and will spend some time with him, before travelling to Poland for Christmas.