Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Always happy to see Eucalypts

Two Aussies, Hannah and Leah on the track on Saturday riding through a eucalypt  grove and under a flame tree.  A lovely section of the ride.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Megean's Legacy Ride

Meagean Baldwin who was on the Team Dai ride and who encourages me to get up for the 6 am training rides, and leads our weekend escapades with her GPS,  is moving to Brussels  next month with her family.  So we had a final weekend ride into Tad Moon National Park with Megean, and a can of spray paint.  We stopped frequently so she could mark the direction on posts and rocks.  Hopefully we will be able to find  our way next time we are out in the bamboo and on the tracks.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Mekong Fisherman

A fisherman in the Mekong today.  The sand bank shows the low level of the river at the moment.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Graduation Day

This week is graduation week.  We had a dinner on Wednesday night and a graduation ceremony tonight.  Today the graduates left the school.  Wearing gowns they walked out of the senior school, through the elementary school to the front gate.  Students and staff lined the walkways to clap and cheer them out.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Hoffet Field

From my balcony I look out over the field at the near by French Clinic.  It is called Hoffet Field as it is used by the French School (Lycee Hoffet) for their sport activities and there is small building that is used as their early years campus.

Tonight as I looked out I the orange and red color spots of the young players and the flowers in the trees drew my eye.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

In the Blue Part 3

Weaving on traditional looms was also part of our day at Houey Hong Vocational Centre on Saturday.  I managed to make a small piece in an hour or so of weaving.  It would have been longer, but for my dyslexia with the foot pedals and also because I threaded the shuttle (in focus) through the wrong way.  We all left with a much greater appreciation for the skills, patience and co-ordination of Laos weavers.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

In the Blue Part 2

Our Indigo blue silk scarves drying on a rack in front of skeins of silk. Mine is the one with the vertical stripe.

The silk we used is actually from Vietnam as apparently it is cheaper than Laos silk.

Monday, 23 May 2016

In the Blue

Saturday morning I was playing with pots of indigo dye, making a silk tie dye scarf at Houey Hong Vocational Training centre.   I went with agroup of staff from school and you can see us proudly wearing our scarves at the end of the day. 

The lady in the middle in apricot is the founder of the Centre is Ms. Chanthasone Inthavong, a Vientiane native, now living and working in Tokyo, Japan. In 1982 she set up Action with Lao Children (ALC), a literacy non-governmental organisation.  She lives and works in Tokyo to fund the Centre and its work and we were lucky to meet her on Saturday as she is back for a while to help improve the business.  Her sister, Sengmany Vongsipasom, front right, returned to Vientiane after 20 years living in the USA, manages the day-to-day operations.a

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Farewell to the Frogs

The Frogs are a punk - rock band here in Vientiane featuring teachers from school Dirk (Science teacher) and Eric (elementary French) on Bass and sometimes Graeme (elementary Grade 5 on drums).  Last night they played at O'Grady's Irish pub  for the" End of the World Tour" as Dirk is moving to a school in Belgium next year.  It was a fun night - lots of dancing - and prolific sweating in the heat.

It was another good example of being in an International school.  I was drinking Beer Laos, dancing to songs from the sex pistols and B52s (and an INXS classic as well), played by musicians from The Netherlands, France, Ireland and Laos and chatting with the elementary principal (Australian, with a German wife and sons studying in Belgium) about his planned vacation in Germany and sailing off the Turkish coast.

Potato Spudoodles

This week my Grade 9s made Potato people or Spudoodles as part of our unit "Variations in Populations".  They had some cute and some slightly less cute potato people to analyse for phenotypic and genotypic variation.
These are two of the spudoodles who along with their comrades are now scattered around the VIS campus with signs reading "The Potato People are Here" or "Who are the Potato People - Ask a Grade 9 Science student".  
The fun part is completed and now the students have to analyse the data and write their reports over the weekend.

Friday, 20 May 2016


Last Thursday evening I was at the theatre - the Black Box at school.
EnVISion Theatre company, a group of staff, students and parents, put on Table, a production of a recent play from the National Theatre in London.
The play tells the story of 6 generations of one family.  A  solidly crafted table  is used as a way of exploring shifts in time and attitude in one family over a period of 115 years, with students and adults playing the parts of different characters at different stages of their lives - rather dense - but an intriguing plot. The performances were mature and showed the talent within the VIS community.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Across the Road

Daily life is very public in Laos and in Vientiane.  People eat and on the street, sit outside on the footpath with their family and usually have doors and windows open.

The neighbour's open window provides a view into their daily life.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Men at Work Part 2

Yesterday I watched the builders- today the rubbish collectors - rather more aromatic. 

If you look closely you can see the recycling strategies: plastic bottles into the blue basket at the back, cardboard into the space between the cabin of the truck and the trailor.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Men at Work

Last week there was a wild storm and sheets of iron were blown off the roof of the home opposite my apartment.

This week it turned into construction site, complete with sacred flowers on a central post.

This afternoon there was considerable grunting, groaning and general sounds of hard work.  

I stepped out onto the balcony to watch a group of men carry, using planks through rubber loops,  then lever a concrete pylon into place. Follow their efforts through the photos.

Monday, 16 May 2016

The Family Scooter

Mothers with their  young children and school bags loaded onto the scooter are a commons sight on my morning commute.  There is some safety awareness - the mothers have scooters - but are wearing flip flops.  The children are wearing studier footwear, but no helmets. 

Sunday, 15 May 2016

The School Bus

These students were crammed onto  the local school bus (tuk tuk) on Friday.  I stopped behind it to their amusement to take a photo.

Friday, 13 May 2016

"I'm sure I am on the right side of the road!!!"

Everyday I at least once I say to myself  or, in an irate tone, to a fellow scooter rider "I'm sure I'm on the right side of the road".  

As in this photo, confronting someone coming towards you on the wrong side of the road is a common occurrence on Vientiane roads.

Admittedly I now drive "Laos style" sometimes - but only on one way roads - is that a good excuse officer????

Thursday, 12 May 2016

White Gloves

The policemen at the round about and other intersections along the road love their morning interlude of power with their white gloves, red braid and whistle.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Daily Commute

I am in Vientiane to work and despite what you may think (or gather from my photos) I do go to work every day, either on the Scoopy scooter or on the push bike.   I stopped one morning at this round about that I go through each day to take a few photos to show the daily commute.  As you can see scooters are very popular.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Pho for Breakfast Part 3 - Making the Pho

The kitchen was across the road from the restaurant - on the footpath.  The broth was being brewed in the big pots on the small stoves.  While I was having my pho the kitchen lady was busy putting huge chunks of meaty bones into the pot.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Pho for Breakfast Part 2

After Mass last Sunday I popped into this street side  small hole in the wall shop for a yummy bowl of pho - noodle soup. The coriander and spring onions were diced and the lady was chopping the rather un-enticing raw red minced meat.  Other meat was sliced and waiting in the front tray to be added  with noodles to bowls before the steaming broth was ladled in.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

A Sunday Wedding

Last Sunday after Mass at St Joseph's in Hanoi  I watched this young couple and two other couples primp and pose for wedding photos in front of  the Cathedral.   While there are many Catholics in Vietnam, I don't think they were having their wedding here, just using the location for its facade.

The Gothic style Cathedral was built to resemble Notre Dame and built in the 1800s on the site of a sacred Buddhist pagoda - a regretful but not unusual practice.  When the Viet Minh took control of Hanoi in 1954, the Church and priests were persecuted and tortured and the Cathedral did not open again until Christmas 1990.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Leaving Mass

Last weekend in Hanoi I went to Mass in St Joseph's Cathedral on Sunday morning. There were many differences from Mass at St Patrick's Whorouly, but also similarities.

The post Mass rush to leave was via scooters and bicycles rather than cars.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Pho for breakfast

A family having pho (noodle soup) for breakfast at a street side restaurant near my hotel in Hanoi.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Recycling Vietnamese Style

It would be a hard life living off the money from gathering plastic bottles in Hanoi. However the photo illustrates the cultural differences in approaches to recycling in developed countries to those in developing or economically emerging countries. NGOs working on environmental issues face such cultural challenges in their work to change approaches to plastic use and recycling.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

A Relaxing Weekend in Hanoi

Thanks to the Communists for a May Day holiday.

I took the opportunity to visit Hanoi for the weekend.

I enjoyed the street life and chaos of a busy city - and it was greener and cooler than Vientiane - and I had a lovely time.

I spent time watching life go by at the Park on Hoan Kiem Lake near the old city.
Like these gentlemen, it was a relaxing  and enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Drinking Tea

Local Naxi people drinking tea and playing a board game (with counters) in Baisha near Lijiang.

It looks like a bar of some description and I'm sure they move from tea to spirits later in the day.