Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Fire protection - Not the CFA

Fire swatters, shovels and water packs make up a road side fire protection stop on the road up to Doi Suthep.   Obviously not expecting a large crew of CFA volunteers to rush to immediately extinguish a blaze.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Another Elephant - at a Temple

Of course I stop and take a photo whenever I see an elephant.  This one is at Wat Dok Euang in Chiang Mai.  It was another stop on my walking tour last Sunday.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Washing by the Moat

While I was wandering around the old city and the moat last Sunday, busy being a tourist, this gentleman was sitting out by the moat washing his clothes.  By hand!!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Friday Flowers - Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea is not really my thing, but it is blooming profusely on the mountain at the moment, making the roadsides colourful and cheerful.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Tail end of the Elephants

I cycled up to see the elephants on Thursday after school but they weren't there! The elephant crossing sign had been removed too.  On Sunday morning there were a few elephants and a guide at the waterfall.  He told me they were moving from the waterfall location as it was National Park and also too many non-paying visitors were stopping by.  But he had said they would be there in the afternoons.  I hope they will be.  I love the elephants.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

White Jade Buddha at Wat Ou Sai Kham

Wat Ou Sai Kham was another small wat I visited on the walking tour.  Its name means temple of golden sand and it is more than 300 years old.  It is smaller than many other wats and contains a collection of jade Buddhas, including this glorious white jade Buddha.
Visitors are invited to touch the Buddhas and large jade stones for good luck.  I hope it leads to some good fortune and good luck for me.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A morning of Wats

On Sunday morning I went on a walking tour with a local guide to look at Lanna Architecture in the older parts of Chiang Mai.  We visited several  small wats (temples), in out of the way locations, ones I probably would not have found on my own wanderings.
Wat Chomphu may be smaller than many of the more visited wats in Chiang Mai, but it was very pretty with a calm feel to it and some lovely shady trees.
There was alot of gold, including very ornate golden umbrellas at the corners of the main chedi.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Graduation Photos

Graduation doesn't occur until June, but today we took photos in preparation for graduation and for the year book.  Every time I say "school magazine"  I garner strange looks.  Its the year book.
This the Grade 12 group with Mr Greg, the headmaster.  I'm in there with Dr Naji, in black and Miss Iva, the Principal on the far left.
An easy morning organising gowns, hats,  and photos, much better than taking the Geometry class.

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Moat in the Evening

The Old City of Chiang Mai has a square shape and is surrounded by a water filled, tree lined moat.  It looks lovely here with early evening lights  reflected in the water.  It is nice during the day too, but not quite as attractive as the daylight does not disguise the murkiness of the water.
Songkran - Thai New Year, is approaching and the moat is the centre of activity for locals and visitors. Throwing water is the main form of celebration - for at least 3  or 4 days. A local was telling me today you can't leave your house as the traffic is at a standstill and water is thrown at you as you walk down the street.   Glad I will be out of town for Songkran.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Relaxing Saturday Afternoon at Valley Coffee

I have a new favorite spot to hang out on the weekend.  Valley Coffee is about 8 km down the hill from school at Lanna Resort .  
Its a lovely setting in a manicured garden with a creek meandering next to the hill side. I can sit in a little hut, with a lemon tea, read my book, check the ABC news on the ipad (free wifi) and enjoy being off campus.  

I sometimes cycle town after school.  As always its a "grunt" to get back up the hill, but its good exercise. Its also a good place for a break if I am cycling up from Chiang Mai.

This afternoon I met up with Muyassar, the art teacher from school.  Her sons Ilyos and Yakyho had great fun playing in the creek and ascending and descending in the cocoon chairs using a chain pulley.

In the photos you can see the orange/brown hues of the burnt trees and of course the smoke haze that has been annoying for the last two weeks. 

Friday, 20 March 2015

Wat Molee Chedi

Wat Molee or Wat Lok Moli as it is also known was founded for monks from Burma.  It is famous for its chedi built in 1528.  It  is thought to contain the ashes of several kings.  It looks great now, but was an overgrown ruin until 2001 after its monks fled during World War II.

Chanting Monks

 The monks were concentrating on their prayers as I snuck a glance through the side door at Wat Molee on Saturday evening.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Girls in Green

I hit the UN Irish bare in Chiang Mai last night to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, with a Guinness and a green beer with three younger work colleagues - Kelsey, Loren and Lexi.
Kelsey was the star of the evening with a magical leprechaun like display of Irish dancing.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

No wonder I have stinging eyes

The air quality is steadily getting worse.
There is still a lot of burning in the  hills.  No one I ask has been able to  give me a clear explanation of why there is so much burning.  Slash and burn agriculture is one reason, but that doesn't explain why they burn in the hills.  Some say it is to encourage the growth of mushrooms.  Another person said it was because the locals who use the forest want to clear the jungle, remove forest floor litter and improve access.   Not much concern for biodiversity.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Its Smoky

 Kelsey, an ELL (English Language Learners) aide in the elementary school is not happy with the amount of smoke at the moment.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Back to the Coffee Shop

I liked the green features in this photo and the smile on her face.  This lady is often in the coffee shack and we communicate through the lovely girl who works there.  I know she is 58 and has 2 grandchildren - and likes green.

A Harrington Monk?

Running late for the service, this may be a Harrington monk.  At least he shows some Harrington traits, evident on Sunday mornings in our youth, when we were often the last into St Patrick's Whorouly.
I explored Wat Molee on Saturday evening. Early evening is a good time to visit a temple as the monks commence prayers and chanting around 6 pm.
Wat Molee was established in the 14 th century, but this building, the Vihran, was built in 2003.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Autumn leaves

Another tree from my day zipplining in jungle.  Loved the delicate golden leaves on this gigantic tree.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Friday Flowers - Thong Kwaw

Thong Kwaw - Erythina orientalis or  the coral tree, is another tree I would like to grow in Beechworth. No doubt without success.
The Thai Director told me Thong Kwaw is a beautiful name.
It is a beautiful tree and the flowers which carpet the ground below are especially delicate and beautiful.
The tree in the photo is in front of the girls dormitory and luckily there are three trees in front of my living quarters.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Down from the Trees

 Part of the zip line experience was to abseil down from a tree at the end.
Another adventure.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Flight of the Gibbon - Another Adventure

Thanks to Buddha we had a day off last Wednesday, so I went ziplining (fancy type of flying fox) with Flight of the Gibbon.  It was exhilarating zipping through the jungle, on  5 km of ziplines, the longest of which was 800m.  The scary part was the narrow and shaky swing bridges between some of the stations. 
We also saw some Gibbons.
An awesome afternoon of adventure.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Scooter

I have a scooter (rented) and a helmet (owned).
This is the scooter and the friendly mechanic half way down the hill from school.
He has just put on a new rear view mirror, because of course I have already had a bingle.
Just a small one! On my second day on the scooter I went off exploring, venturing beyond where I had been on the bicycle.  Coming home I misjudged a tight and steep left corner and slowly hit the barrier on other side of the corner.
All's well, more scratches on the scooter than me and I am gradually gaining confidence riding down the hill to ChiangMai and home again.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Fire in the Hills

Its burning season at the moment.  Tonight I can see lines of fire crossing the hills opposite my apartment.  It was very smoky today, making it difficult to see across the campus.  Both staff and students were wearing face masks. It reminds me of the summer of 2003.

Monday, 9 March 2015


Rock climbing in Vietnam with the Grade 12s was an adventure for me, especially as it is a long time since I have attempted anything like this and even then I think it was only climbing  a large boulder at Mount Buffalo.  The girls lead the way.  Jung and I were the first on the rock face and the first up.
After that I could sit back and watch.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Sunrise for Sunday

Gorgeous reflections in the Mai Chau rice paddies at dawn. - Yes I can get up early (sometimes)

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Friday Flowers - Tet Peach Blossom

Peach blossom and cumquats are popular decorations for Vietnamese families during Tet (New Year) celebrations

Friday, 6 March 2015

Rice planting

In Mai Chau provice the White Tai people live a subsistence lifestyle with rice as the main staple.  This rice paddy has been with the same family for 5 generations.  It takes the couple 3 hours to plant the area with rice.  I am not sure if our assistance helped or hindered.  I found rather meditative - but that was only for an hour!

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Rafting by the Rice paddies

My Murray River canoeing skills came to the for during our rice paddy river bamboo rafting race.  Miss Mary, Jung and Mike clearly beat the other rafts and kept the straightest line.  I think it helped that Jung knew what she was doing and was able to easily navigate the course.

Betty was the other girl in the group and enjoyed the rafting too, although she was not happy about getting wet.

Meanwhile we were having fun on the water, this lady was cutting weed along the banks of the rice paddies to put in her basket to take home to feed her animals.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Pigs head to go??

On the way to Mai Chau we stopped at a cliff side market to buy some sugar cane snacks.  The stall holders live below the cliff and trek up a narrow trail each day with their produce including this pig's head ready to go!  I opted not to buy it!!1

Tuesday, 3 March 2015


This calligrapher was writing characters for "success"  or "good fortune" on the red banners.  Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam or Temple of Literature was founded as a Confucian temple in 1070 and functioned as Vietnam's main university for 700 years. 
It was Tet "New Year" while we were in Hanoi.  The people of Hanoi visit Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam at this time and leave the banners there hoping for good luck throughout the coming year.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Fruit Salad on a Bicycle

Hanoi was bustling with life and activity, especially the manic traffic.  Fruit, vegetables, flowers and meat were sold in the street near our hotel, by street sellers and mobile vendors such as this lady with her bicycle laden with bananas and pineapples.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Classroom Without Walls - Grade 12 go to Vietnam

Last week was spent with students from my Grade 12 advisory group in Vietnam.  The focus of the trip was community service in a village in the province of Mai Chau west of Hanoi. We had a great week.