Expat Author Interview
Posted by Dannielle Noonan
Medibroker spoke to Marek Lenarcik, author of Burma Lost & Found, about his experience of life as an expatriate.
Want expat news straight to your inbox?
Where are you from originally and where have you lived?
I come from Poland. Prior to moving to Burma (Myanmar), I've lived in Ireland, Thailand and Malaysia. I've also spent almost a year in Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia.
What was your reason for moving abroad?
Curiosity and itchy feet. I've always wanted to leave Poland, but for no particular reason. Spent a few years in Ireland, got bored, wet and cold, moved on... and I keep moving on every few years since then.
How did you find jobs abroad?
Finding a job online in Ireland when the Celtic Tiger was still alive and relatively well was easy. I responded to many ads for jobs in Thailand, but eventually got a job by e-mailing companies I was interested in, even if they weren't advertising that they were looking for someone. I've run my own projects in South America. Malaysia and Burma came via personal connections established during my life in Asia.
While planning your move, what was the biggest obstacle?
Burning bridges and convincing myself that I have no other choice but to succeed. When you start thinking that if it doesn't go well you can always go back to your old job, your native/previous country - it's the beginning of your failure. If there is no way back, your only option is to go forward!
What have you learned from your experience of living abroad?
That it's better to aim for the stars and land in the mud, than to aim for the mud and make it.
How did you settle into your new life?
I keep settling in every time when I change a country.
What’s the biggest cultural difference between home and Burma?
It's a bit like asking what's the biggest difference between Earth and Mars... Not being able to achieve anything by saying things directly!
How do you handle the language barrier?
I've learned the basics which helps me to get by. In my business (tourism), however, everybody speak English.
What has been your most memorable experience since moving?
My first hot air balloon flight which happened to be over Bagan in Burma.
What advice would you give to anyone else thinking of moving to Myanmar?
Visit first. It's not an easy country to live for an expat. Come to Rangoon (if that's where you are planning to be based) and spend some time here analysing this place as your possible future home. Don't make a mistake of coming for 3-week holidays all around the country and deciding that you love it and you want to stay. Everyday life here is not sunrises over temples...
Tell us about your new book!
In January 2011, just before political reforms in Myanmar ended a decades-old military regime, I arrived in Yangon on a short-term work assignment. Little did I know then that a broken heart and dwindling savings would lead me to pursue a dream career working for one of the country’s top tour companies. On duty as a travel product manager, I traverse the country by trains, planes and automobiles to experience stunning landscapes, ruins of empires, exotic food and unique cultures in search of the best that the nation’s budding tour and hospitality industry has to offer.
With stories from the emerald shores of the Andaman Sea at Ngapali beach to the mountain peaks of Chin State, “Burma Lost & Found: Three years living my dream job in the travel industry in Rangoon and beyond” brings humour, vivid description and insight to my adventures and encounters with an eclectic cast of characters including an eccentric monk, dodgy expats, charismatic guides, gracious hosts and many more.