Friday, 31 October 2014

Sunset over Bagan

After a day cycling through the country side of this ancient land and exploring pagodas and temple complexes it was time to watch the sunset over the temples with the Irrawaddy River in the background.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Sunrise over Bagan

A morning vista of pagodas and stupas across the plain of Bagan.
Bagan was once the capital of Burma.  Most of the temples date back to the 12th and 13th century.
As the sun rose the spires appeared through the mist.  A magical experience.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Monks and Nuns - Shwedagon Paya

Lonely Planet begins their description of Myanmar with the sentence "Is there a more stunning monument to religion in Southeast Asia?  We don't think so."

They are describing the Shwedagon Paya in Yangon.  I have to agree with their description.  It was an amazing complex of temples, shrines and Buddha statues. 

When I visited early on a Sunday morning it was crowded and teeming with people.  Dressed in fine clothes;  they were praying, placing garlands of flowers on statues, lighting candles and incense, walking around the main stupa, congregating in family groups of all ages, taking photos and selfies and moving from temple to temple.  It was busy.  There were others selling gold leaf to put on the statues, polishing statues with Brasso, checking the neon lights were working, climbing the scaffolding surrounding the main spire, selling food, drink and flowers  or arranging flowers behind the scenes.  There were monks and nuns, old and young.  It really is a stunning and living monument to the Buddhist religion.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Back from Burma

Back at work today after a week's break, travelling in Burma/Myanmar with Helen, Jenny and Julie.
We had a wonderful time; exploring, staying in exotic locations, eating spicy food, meeting some local people, learning about the culture and history of Burma/Myanmar and visiting pagodas, temples, pagodas, stupas, pagodas and more pagodas.
This photo was taken in a market, where a man had a stall selling metal bits and bobs, mainly rusted and old, but proudly had a photo of Aung San Suu Kyi hanging in a prominent place.
More photos and stories to come.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Loo with a View

Another photo that I can't believe I am sharing.  (stunned mullet eyes!!- but not as bad as my Year 8 photo)
This is taken in the bathroom at the Above 11 roof top bar in Bangkok.  You can just make out the lights of the city in the background.
I had arranged to meet Jo and Mark Loiterton here last Friday night.  It took me close to two hours on a rickety train and then in a taxi to travel in from Don Muang airport.  I popped into the bathroom to freshen up and change, only to here a voice saying "Mary Harrington are you in here???"  Jo had seen me walk in. So the bathroom became the venue for our reunion.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Wet in Bangkok

A sudden, heavy tropical downpour surprised us in Bangkok last Saturday night.  This photo shows the traffic stopped at lights while the rain comes down.  Luckily we were dry as there is an extended above ground walkway linking train stations and the malls near Siam Square.
The rain did dampen our experience at the Red Sky roof top bar as we were confined indoors for our drink and were only able to venture outside to admire the view as we were about to leave.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Skating with Henry

I can't believe I am sharing this unattractive photo online.  However it does show Henry from Grade 8 being very kind and caring, taking me for a skate on the ice last week.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Spinning silk

At Jim Thompson's house there a man was spinning silk from the silk worm cocoons.  The silk was very fine, you can just make out the thread on the reel with the natural tones of the cocoons in the background.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The entire school

We had the end of quarter (not term) assembly on Thursday. It was a lengthy affair, about an hour and half, with awards for elementary and secondary students based on academic performance, improvement and teacher recognition linked to the school mission statement. Sports awards for the badminton, volleyball and swimming teams were also handed out.
In this photo you can see the entire student body with Grade 1 looking cute and calm at the front to Grade 12 in the far corner.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Jim Thompson Bangkok

In Bangkok I visited Jim Thompson's House.  We had a lovely lunch in the cafe at the museum and I vicariously spent up on the gorgeous silks in the shop.
Thompson was an American who famously worked to develop the Thai silk industry in the post war years.  Jim Thompson Silk is now a huge business.
He disappeared mysteriously in Malaysia in 1961.  His house has been turned into a museum.  Thompson trained as an architect and built his home using traditional Thai techniques to combine six Thai houses into one home. 
It was a beautiful building with gorgeous gardens and many interesting and beautiful antiques displayed inside. 
This  400 year old statue was in his bedroom, in front of a window overlooking the side garden.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Bangkok elephants

More elephants - but not real ones.  The Thais, like me love elephants.  These were opposite the hotel I stayed at in Bangkok last weekend.  The median strip had a line of these topiary elephants.  I liked the contrast with the fast moving traffic and the stylized advertising for a commercial business.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Friday Flowers from Ms Dao

 Luxury of luxuries - I have a cleaner!  Ms Dao visits once a fortnight and cleans the apartment, washes, irons and tidies up. (For anyone who knows me - its a great decluttering strategy!!!)
AND she leaves flowers for me.  This her collection this week.  The green one is a long leaf that one of her friend's ties into a flower shape. Gorgeous.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Volcanic Explosions at APIS

Today was the day for explosions.  They Grade 6 students were full of excitement and ideas as we headed outside to make lava flow from our volcanoes.  Vinegar (with red food coloring) and sodium bicarbonate was a winner.  Pepsi and mentos did not work well, but the Coke and mentos made for a major eruption.  All had fun.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Skating in the Tropics

Today I took the Grade 8 class on a "field trip".  Note - a field trip not an excursion.
It was to an ice skating rink.  Yes an ice skating rink. In the tropics.  It was a small rink in a large shopping mall, Central Festival, in the outer suburbs of Chiang Mai.
Physics and Newton's Laws of Motion provided the educational connection.  We had also studied motion and speed, so Henry (in the front) was instructed to record the speed and odometer readings during the trip - much to his chagrin.
They  all had a great time. Some of the Korean and Chinese students were good skaters, but there were also many beginners.
The penguin, which Bali is desperately hanging onto,  helped beginners find their balance. I used it for a few laps and then found enough confidence for a few shaky laps.
Administratively it was very easy to organise, no parent permission forms to collect or chase, no medical forms to collect, no rolls to mark, just book the school bus, get some money from admin and go.
Everyone had a great day.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Smelly Volcanoes

Today was Day 2 of the Grade 6 Volcano project. 
In this photo, Yan (the vegetarian, Russian Hare Krishna student, I have referred to before) does have tape over his nose and a pair of scissors on top.
We started making our volcanoes last week.  Monday morning when I walked into my classroom it stank and the volcanoes were to blame.  In particular Yan's, as we had used flour and water glue to make papier maché for his.  Other students only used paper and tape.
The papier maché had cured over the weekend, which means mould and smells in the tropics.  The class were carrying on this morning about the smell, implementing a variety of nose blocking strategies such as the tape over the nose strategy. Only Yan adopted the Scissor pinching strategy.
The volcanoes have been completed, painted and are now stored in the corridor.  Explosions planned for Thursday.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Sports Day at APIS

 Today was Sports Day - well really sport afternoon as the events didn't start until after lunch.  It was a fun day with most students participating.  It was organised according to Grade level.  I was with my advisory group, Grade 12 and they played against the Grade 11 students.  They rotated through a series of activities during the afternnoon, Volleyball (above),  Fusbal (below), Basketball, Ping pong, Atheletics ( if you class piggy back races as athletics), catch the flag and others.
Each grade chose their team color.  The Grade 12s were sedate with grey, while the preps, below were in bright green and grade 4, which has some strong girls in it wore pink.
APIS are called the Dragons, hence the writing on the wall of the gym.
It is starting to cool down a bit, but it was warm just being a spectator.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Bangkok Birthday Lights

Three Bangkok roof top bars in 24 hours!!!  With some swims in between.
 lovely celebratory  birthday weekend.  I relaxed in Bangkok with Mark and Jo Loiterton, who I worked with at Galen, but they now live and work in Vientiane, Laos. 
A colleague of theirs (who comes from Wodonga- small world) also had her birthday on Friday and had organised a gathering at "Above 11" a hip new bar.  I was able to gate crash the celebrations and enjoy the view and the margaritas.
The top photo is from the roof top bar of our hotel looking towards Siam Square with Above 11 in the building with the blue stripe.
The price of drinks mirrored location of the bars (Sky high), hence we  opted for cheaper, but yummy and spicy, Thai food, with a beer  at ground level.
The second photo of blurry lights was taken at Red Sky,  55 floors above Siam Square, not long after it had rained. Due to the rain were inside rather than out enjoying the lights.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Friday Flowers

These small white flowers fall from a very tall tree.  Looking up at the tree its hard to distinguish any flowers.  However each morning the ground beneath the trees is littered with the flowers.  The Thai staff stop to pick some each morning as they have a lovely smell.  It is a habit I have now adopted.  So I had flowers on my desk this morning for my birthday.
Off to Bangkok for a Birthday weekend with my friends Mark and Jo Loiterton.


As I left for school this morning, this gentleman was gently trimming the hedges out the front of our units. He is another of the team of groundskeepers here at APIS.
I hope the hedges in Finch St are just as neat.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Miss Mary

The sign outside my room and my title here.
Everyone is referred to by their last name.  The Principal is Miss Iva, the Thai teacher is Miss Mod, the Biology teacher is Mr David and the Headmaster is Mr Greg.  Surnames are superfluous, even  with the students.  Class lists and rolls  list students alphabetically by first name. I wouldn't know the surname of most students or staff.
This week is the end of the quarter (term) so it has been a busy week for Miss Mary.  Tests, quizzes, students retaking tests, assignments due and then of course the correction and eventual report writing.  Reports use an online comment bank and restricted to three comments, which you don't have to develop yourself. While it is impersonal and not too informative I'm hoping it will be a straight forward process.  No need for my normal report writing avoidance strategies of cleaning the stove and the refrigerator or even the windows.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Following the monks

Driving home on Saturday I followed this Song Tiew (taxi truck) through traffic for quite a while.
 I took this photo while stuck in traffic, to the amusement of the group of  young, orange robed monks in the back. (the photo was taken through a dirty windscreen so is a bit blurry- but I liked the combination of the orange and the red).
I was amused by them as they were occupying themselves like any teenager on a road trip.  They had earphones in, sunglasses on their forehead, were looking at screens and eating ice cream.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Driving in Chiang Mai

The traffic in Chiang mai on Saturday was fine.  I was apprehensive about driving and finding my way around, but all went well.  The old city is surrounded by a moat.  The ruins of the walls can just be seen in the background in this photo.  There is a one way ring road system on either side of the moat, so it can be a bit confusing working out how where you can do a U turn to head in the desired direction.
Traffic was steady and remarkably calm, no tooting horns and no road rage, cars and bikes did cut in, but drivers gave way- all very polite.

Monday, 6 October 2014

A Chinese Lantern for Meg

Last weekend in Phuket on the beach at Patong,  Libby, Ross and I released a Chinese lantern for Meg.  With sadness and poignant memories we watched as the lantern ascended to the heavens.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Driving along a jungle lane

Today I borrowed Muyassar's car (the art teacher from Uzbekistan) and drove down to Chiangmai to visit the bank.  It was great to be driving a car again.  I have missed being behind the steering wheel and going where you like.
Saturday morning banking is possible here as branches in shopping centres are open.   The staff are friendly and welcoming, and there is more than one staff member there to help you - how unusual.  I had two people helping me and as I left they gave me a free purple umbrella to match my purple glasses, not like an Australian bank at all.
On the way home I decided to do some exploring  of the  "I wonder where that road goes" variety and followed this narrow lane way.  It was a lovely windy road through the jungle, with walking tracks off to the side.  You can just make out a small shrine on the left hand side of the road.  Unfortunately when I looked further there were piles of rubbish dumped on both sides of the ride.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The Russians are here

I was surprised by the amount of signage in Cyrillic Script on signs, billboards and windows in Phuket, until I spotted the Russians.  Phuket must be one of their favorite destinations. While I could spot lots of Aussies, there were many more Russians, who lacked confidence in the waves.
There is Russian community in Chiang Mai.  They are Hare Krishna's and live in an Ashram, and APIS is their preferred school.  I have Yan in my Grade 6 class who loves drawing pictures of imaginary weapons.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Friday Fake Flower

When I first saw this flower I was amazed by the greeness of the leaves.  Of course with a closer look they are fake.  Why?  Just behind them there was a beautiful real orchid flower.  Maybe it is for year round color?  It certainly isn't due to lack of fertile soil or water.
The arrangement is part of the decor at the  "Rice Paddy" the local watering hole/restaurant/bar near school, where I had a spicy basil chicken dish for dinner tonight.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Still sweeping

 Today is Theme Day for the City Daily Photo community. For October the theme is movement.
There is plenty of movement when the lawn is being mowed at APIS.  There is the mower, the sweeper and then the gatherer.   A great team and the lawns are very neat. This lawn is in front of Building I where I have my classroom.
Click here to see other Movement Photos from CDP members