Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year Don Khone Sunset

As the sunsets on 2015 I am reflecting on my new life on the Mekong in Laos.
Happy New Year .
Thanks for reading the blog - more to come in 2016
love Mary

Wednesday, 30 December 2015


Reflections - The end of the year is a time for reflecting and maybe some planning.

2015 has been a year of adventure, travel and challenge.  A year connecting with family and friends in Australia and missing them, but also a time to meet new friends, visit new places and face new professional and personal challenges.  More of the same in 2016

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Baguette to Go

A mobile baguette stall at the bus station.  Freshly made, wrapped in paper and yummy.  Much better than VLine food options.

Monday, 28 December 2015

A bright bicycle

I liked the contrast provided by this bright fluoro bike parked against a tree near Wat Simeuang as the monks beat the drum.
It's a very Laos scene - a bicycle, a wat, monks, lush greenery, tackiness and tradition.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Ginger Chicken - not the Christmas Turkey

Ginger Chicken from this "restaurant" around the corner has become a favourite.  Sometimes I sit at the concrete table to eat and watch the street life, other times I take a plastic container and get takeaway.  Its yummy, especially the hot spiciness of the ginger.  At 40,000 kip, approx $4.00 its a bargain, plus the lady is very friendly and always happy to see me.

However I am looking forward to the traditional Christmas turkey at home in Australia.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Its the Cool Season

Monks are wearing beanies in Laos.

I am heading home to 40+ C in the SNC. No need for beanies.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Seasons Greetings from Scientific Santas

This week has been "spirit week" with students dressing up according to a different theme each day.
Today each advisory was to choose their own theme.  My group of Grade 10s, with persuasion, dressed up as Scientific Santas.


Friday, 18 December 2015

The Monks of Luang Prabang

 Luang Prabang was once a royal city and as such contains many exotic and beautiful temples that are still home to a large community of monks.

Many of the monks, like those the boys met on Mount Phousi are novices, studying Buddhism and learning English in the monasteries with little intention of becoming a monk when they are older.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Out and About on the Scooters

The boys have been loving riding the scooters.  We hired scooters in Luang Prabang on Saturday to ride to a waterfall and explore the countryside. 

Tonight they rode and in and out of town weaving through the traffic like locals.

Tomorrow they are hiring one and using mine to explore Vientiane and beyond.  I will be at work - slightly concerned - but confident they will ride safely.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

A baguette please.

An earnest, but gorgeous look from this young girl as she waits while her mother, standing behind her, orders a baguette from one of the stalls near the bus station.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Look who is on the elephant !

Tom and Will arrived in Laos on Wednesday and have moved through culture shock to appreciation of the relaxed way of life in Laos.
We had a great day today at Elephant Village near Luang Prabang, riding and caring for rescued elephants.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Christmas on Khouvieng

Tinsel, santa suits and christmas trees have appeared on the corner of my street. The roadside stall on the at the intersection of a busy road - Khouvieng Boulevard,  normally sells flags and some snacks, but has used the holiday season to branch out with especially gorgeous Chinese decorations.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

O'Grady's Irish Pub

There is now an Irish bar in Vientiane - O'Grady's Irish Pub.  Its run by an Irish man, Sean, with red hair of course - very Irish looking and sounding.

I went there last week to see  Chris Lister, a friend from school perform.  He has a great voice, sang some original material as well as covers of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.  I opted for a Beer Lao with my bangers and mash, but Guinness is available - a reason to return.

Friday, 11 December 2015

The Firework Makers Daughter

The school play/production is on this week. The Firework Maker's daughter features a talking white elephant - how good is that.
I thought the performances were great, the costumes interesting and the production very creative.  Students from elementary and secondary were involved as well as staff, and parents.  Well done VIS and Envision Theatre.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

From the People of Japan

The buses of Vientiane have been donated by the Japanese government.  They are green and vary in age, upkeep and cleanliness, but are always full.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Universal Style of Builders

Is a well exposed bum crack the style of builders everywhere?

This fellow was working on the rendering of a new apartment block across from my front window and I just had to take a photo.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Photographers in Laos

iCat gallery presents exhibitions from local artists.  At the moment she has mounted  Kin Khao, a collaborative photography exhibition featuring two Vientiane based photographers.  The images are thematically arranged and capture life within and beyond the landscape and the interactions of people with the landscape in Laos. The photos also capture and convey the challenges currently facing the country. 

There were some wonderful market images by Mick Shippen.   (I love taking market photos -so they were very inspirational)

Tessa Bunney, an English photographer currently based in Laos, worked closely with ethnic communities to present some fascinating images.

Catherine O'Brien (in the photo) curates and organises the exhibitions in a lovely open gallery  space below her apartment.  Catherine teaches art at VIS and is from Australian, and of course because it is a small world is a good friend of the McIntyres from Stanley.

Visit their websites for further inspiration

Monday, 7 December 2015

Cafe Vanille

A lazy Sunday morning this morning at Cafe Vanille.  I am happy to have found this place- baguettes, croissants, tarte citron, pain au raison and free wifi so I can read The Age online. The coffee is reasonable and there is a range of  breakfast options.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

I love a parade

Beechworth does a very good parade - Easter, the Celtic Festival - colour and movement, drums and bagpipes and dogs and kids.
However it pales into insignificance compared to the Laos National Day parade which featured large military groups and representatives of ethnic minorities.
Beechworth Parades are along Camp Street and the public can line the road side.
I didn't get to see the Laos National Day Parade as it is at the Marching Grounds and only invitees can attend.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Lao National Day

Lao National Day today - marking 40 years of communism.  On this day in 1975 the Pathet Lao abolished the monarchy.

Good reason for a day off work!!!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

A Modern Mall in Vientiane

Vientiane Central opened not long after I arrived here in August.   Yesterday was my first visit.  Dead as a door nail at 6 pm and it looks empty whenever I pass. The cars on the ground level are a Jag, a Rolls and a Bentley - just what you need on the dusty unpaved roads of Vientiane. Maybe if you can afford these cars you can also arrange to have the roads near your home sealed.

There was nothing the average Laos person - or foreign teacher could afford. There is a department store on the right with the usual cosmetic counters on the ground floor and fashion above.  Not only were there few people there were limited products on display as well.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Bags and balls

Bags and balls, slip on sandals and shoes - all that and more from one multi purpose shop in the market in Pakse.
Shop window is the December theme for the City Daily Photo community.
While there are no glass windows in the shops in Laos markets the image is a window into this shop.