Thursday, 30 June 2016

Striped Prayer Flags

As I am photographically obsessed with prayer flags and windows so my visit to Yunnan and the Tibetan Autonomous Region and at  Ganden Sumtsenling  Monastery (Also known as Sōngzànlín ) in Shangri-La  there was an abundance of doors, windows and flags. 

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A decorated door.

A door at Ganden Sumtsenling Monastery in Shangri La.  The golden detail helps the colors stand out and was a feature at the Monastery.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Tibetan Women at Play

In the evening I continued my stroll around the town.  In two separate squares or public plazas there was communal dancing.  The Tibetan women were out in force, once again in traditional clothing such as their pink headwear.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

More Work - More Tibetan Women

 More Tibetan women at work.  This time  building a traditional Tibetan home.  This time there were some men on the work site, but it still looked arduous especially carry the mud up the rickety ladder. 

You can see the men stamping down the mud into the thick mud walls.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Tibetan Women at Work

When I was in Shangri-La I strolled around the town and found this construction site, where women were doing all the work.  It seemed back breaking, but they were smiling.  Some were wearing traditional aprons and their traditional pink head wear.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Technology - Ask a Young Person

If you need help with technology then ask a young person.  I needed to reset my "dongle" with credit.  Through several confusing conversations, with the young girl in the store and the online consultant and the use of three different devices I was finally connected with new credit.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Baci Ceremony

An overview of the commencement of the Baci Ceremony. Baci means spirit calling and we had a similar ceremony at the start of the school year. School leaders are at the center and the village chief leads the ritual.  Key people are connected by threads and those beyond continue the connections by touching someone next to them.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Baci Ceremony

On the last day of school the entire school community participated in a Baci ceremony to farewell and bless everyone as they left for summer vacation. At the end of the ceremony you tie cotton threads around the wrist of a person and offer them a blessing and good wishes as you do so.  Here I am tying a string onto Jayde's wrist and then she tied one onto mine.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Mary and Vanisa

Grade 12 students are also presented with Spirit Dragons when they leave.  Here I am a few weeks ago after the Grade 12 awards night with one of my favourite students Vanisa Vongphanaphone.  Vanisa is hard working and unassuming and absolutely gorgeous.  It has been a pleasure to work with her this year to support her applications for colleges and scholarships. She has been accepted into universities in The Netherlands and Canada and will make a final decision soon. Vanisa hopes to study Liberal Arts and Sciences, probably sociology and then return to Laos to work in a way that will improve the quality of life in her country, especially access to education.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Spirit Dragons

The end of the school year is always as sad time at International schools as staff and student move on.  The transition process at the end of the year is planned and inclusive.  In advisory we wrote messages for leaving students and presented them to the students in Sticky Rice baskets.  

At the secondary assembly peers spoke about those leaving and presented them with a VIS Spirit Dragon. There are 6 students leaving Grade 10 this year.  Here I am with three of them - Daria is moving back to Germany with her family, Alexandra is going to boarding school in England and Alexander is moving to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia with his family.  All gorgeous kids that I will miss a lot.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

River Resort

I have been back in Vientiane over the weekend, packing up the apartment and preparing for my trip home to Australia for the summer break.

I am looking forward to being cold and rugging up, but it was nice to spend time pool side in Champasak, being by the pool makes the heat manageable.

I thoroughly enjoyed a few days of relaxation at The River Resort in Champasak.  It was great to spend time with friends Donna and Jim Samon and to relax by and swim in the infinity pool.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Chicken Cages

With Donna, Jim and Shane I went to a French Restaurant in Vientiane called Les Cages aux Coqs.  It was a wonderful meal - of course I had the duck and we shared a creme brulee - tamarind - yummm.
The restaurant's name describes these woven chook cages.  The place was decorated with them.  On our drive to the Bolavan plateau we passed several caneware stalls selling these chook cages and other woven basketware.  I fancy a few in the back yard at Finch Street - maybe with some chooks in them or just as sculptural items.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Cycling with Donna and Jim

On Wednesday morning, Donna, Jim and I borrowed basic bicycles from The River Resort and cycled approx 15 km along the Mekong and through the very long town of Champasak to visit the Khmer Ruins and Temple of Wat Phou.  After a mammoth thunder storm the previous evening the fields and paddies were full of water.  It was a lovely ride and we enjoyed the close exploration of village life.  While it was the best 15km of road I have ever ridden on in Laos we opted to hop in a tuk tuk and put the bikes on the roof for the ride home.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Sunset on the Mekong

A relaxing afternoon at The River Resort  Champasak.  Enjoyed watching the changing colors of the sunset on the Mekong.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Tad Gneuang

I have had a lovely day today with Jim and Donna Samon and Donna's brother Shane McGrath.
We have been exploring the Bolavan Plateau in southern Laos.  Loved these waterfalls - loud, majestic and powerful - surrounded by the lush and vibrant green of the jungle.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

VIS Graduation - Patuxi

Throughout the year I worked closely with Grade 12 students from two advisory groups.  Here they are celebrating graduation at Patuxi - 12 B above and 12 E below.  They are off to universities around the world - including Australia.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

VIS Graduation - Patuxi

The VIS Class of 2016 graduated at the end of May.
They visited Patuxi Monument in town for some class photos.

Friday, 10 June 2016

The Prom

The VIS Senior Prom was a few weekends ago, but I was just given these photos today.  This is me with some of my Grade 10 girls - Daria, Tiahna, Leila, Isabel, Noni and a friend of these.New York New York was the theme -how bizarre when we are in Vientiane.It was  a glamourous event - lots of high heels - and they had a great time.Staff were able sit outside at a table and venture into the venue occasionally.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Elephants in Chiang Mai

Elephants. It was great to see the elephants in Chiang Mai on the weekend.  Both the live elephants at the waterfall and the sacred elephant statues at Wat Chiang Man.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Graduation at APIS in Chiang Mai

On Friday I went back to Chiang Mai to watch the graduation ceremony for my Grade 11 students from last year.  

 The ceremony at APIS was both formal and celebratory.  It was followed by a "prom" or dinner and speeches on Friday evening.

It was fun to be back and see the kids.  Even more special was to see some of my Grade 12 boys from last year who had come back from Japan and the US for the ceremony. 

Another bonus was seeing the kids from the other grades who were surprisingly happy to see me too.

 The photos show JH walking in with an elementary student, Joe B being awarded the Humanities award from Mark and Lisa with the Maths award from Dr Naji. 

 Below are some photos from Diana of the Prom.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Early morning cyclist

No lycra,  no helmet, the bike is too big, but he at least has thongs on his feet.  He may not be dressed for an early morning ride along Beach Road, but this young lad was out on the road with us last Wednesday morning.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Friday Flowers

There have been few "Friday Flowers" posts this year.  The frangipani and flame trees are putting on great show at the moment.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Children's Day

Communist holidays are for all the right reasons.  Where else do teachers get a day off in recognition of their work and to honor children. The day is meant to promote the welfare of children - something desperately needed in Laos.

I enjoyed my day off, even if it meant I could do some grading in a more relaxed manner at home rather than at school - lots of cups of tea and Paul Kelly blasting through the speakers.

However the secondary school around the corner didn't have the day off.  These students were heading in the gate at 7.30 am.  I think it might be a day off for primary students in Laos but not secondary schools.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Road Watering

Watering the road is almost a national sport in Laos.  These two women were watering the dirt road along the Mekong on Saturday.  The roads are very dusty so it logical to spray the dust down, but then the water pools, puddles form and next time you pass by there are potholes.