Friday, 30 September 2016

Salt Basket

My skin was covered in salt crystals - like this basket - after a short time at the Ban Boe salt mine out of Vientiane yesterday. The students visit to interview workers and collect scientific data for an interdisciplinary unit. The inquiry question for the unit is "The growing demand for resources has social and environmental consequences which require the development of improved systems." The salt mine provides ample data to investigate this question in a Laos context.

The working conditions are truly medieval, but the workers are strong, happy to talk with us and see employment here as a better alternative to subsistence farming in the hills.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Bringing the Cows Home

These ladies and their children were bringing the cows home from the field.  Walking along the busy main road between Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang. 

As a child I would often bring the cows up from the paddock, but always forgot the obviously crucial items - umbrella and bicycle.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Bringing the Cattle Home

 This man was walking along the Luang Prabang to Vientiane, back from the field with his cow, his bag and his machete.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Monday Monks in Myanmar

The monks in Myanmar seemed incredibly young.  

I loved this young boys with their colorful baskets in Bagan

The pots there were great and I was studying them working which would fit in my luggage when the boys passed by.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Vang Vieng Rice Paddy

The rice paddies in and around Vang Vieng were thriving during our visit there two weeks ago.  I like the little hut in the rice field - I'm not sure if it is where the family live or just for a worker to guard the field.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Nam Song

The weekend before last I went to Vang Vieng  and explored the road north on a scooter.  The Nam Song river was full and fast flowing.  I will be going back to Vang Vieng this week for the Grade 10 SALSA field trip.   Its not a week of Mexican condiments, but Secondary Action Learning Service Activities.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Relaxing after paddling practice

Paddlers on a pink Mekong in the evening, relaxing or collapsing after practice for the upcoming boat racing festivals.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Pink Sky at Sunset

 Sunsets have been gorgeous this month - especially looking out over the Mekong.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Wat Sisaket - Monk

As well as wedding photo shoots there were monks at Wat Sisaket.  This young man seems contemplative, sitting outside the main temple building.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Wat Sisaket Wedding

While at Wat Sisaket last month to look at the restoration work, we witnessed a series of Laos wedding photo shoots.

The colour and detail of the embroidery in the silk fabric of her sinh is exquisite - as is the hair detail.

The bride was very modern with her footwear, a pair of nude heels a la Kate Middleton, but the groom has a stunning pair of slip on shoes with a sharp, extended, pointed tip.

The Ring of Confidence

Unsure of the Colgate slogan when written in Laos script.  However as the banner is over a spirit house maybe it ultra confident - or maybe I am dating myself by remembering slogans about rings of confidence!

Another bizarre reference to Colgate this week was the request for  a visit from the representative of Colgate University.  Yes its a legitimate  Liberal Arts College in the US. One of the oldest colleges in the USA and it was founded by members of the Colgate family - now ranked 12th in a list of US Liberal Arts colleges for the interest of prospective students - plus its in New York State.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

POTUS wins

POTUS beat Malcolm in Head of States Bingo at VIS.  Emily from the Elementary school was front and centre in this photo along with some other VIS students.  Their families work at the US Embassy.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016


There are different interpretations of Heaven and Hell.  One notion has Hell and Heaven here on earth and we should try to live our lives in peace, or if we live in pain we are experiencing Hell.

 A temple on the Mekong near where I live has graphic 3D murals depicting heaven and hell.  

Heaven was shown on Saturday's blog as  a state of pleasure-plenty of money and love and peace. 

Today  there is a close up of Hell - a state of pain - speared and bitten by a big black rat.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Monday Monks in Myanmar - Young Nuns at Shwedagaon

Girls and women in Myanmar often become nuns, but in lesser numbers than men becoming monks.  They shave their heads, practice meditation and take ordination vows, but they are not allowed perform ceremonies - similar to  a patriarchal  church I am a member of!

The nuns are called sila-rhan (pronounced thila-shin) which means the “keeper of morality.”

Saturday, 10 September 2016

The Aussies

 These are the VIS students selected to meet Malcolm Turnbull.  He chatted with them and asked each why their family is in Vientiane. Bob Lally is in Grade 9 and his father works as an advisor in the Ministry of Education, Isabel Williams, Tiahna Boyle and Jayde Boukeart are in Grade 11 and their fathers work with Phu Bia, an Australian Mining company.
Below you can see Mr Turnbull presenting certificates to Laos students granted Laos-Australia scholarships for post graduate studies at Australian Universities.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Selfie with Malcolm

On Wednesday morning at the Laos - Australia  Institute we were able to meet Malcolm Turnbull.  He was very happy to take a selfie with us.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Australian flag and a Laos Monument

Patuxi is the Vientiane version of the Arc d'Triomphe. It is a monument built in 1962 to honor those who fought in the independence of Laos against France and also for those who perished during World War II.  The Laos Government used cement donated by the USA for the construction of an airport to build the monument.  This month flags of ASEAN nations - and others such as Australia, New Zealand and the US are flying in the forecourt.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Australia and ASEAN






Malcolm Turnbull is in town for meetings at the ASEAN Summit.  Why Not ask him to visit VIS? So I sent an invitation to his office and the Embassy. 
Of course he couldn't visit, but I have been invited along with some students to attend an event  he is will be speaking at on Wednesday morning. John Williams the Ambassador is a parent at school and said we may have a chance for a brief conversation and a photo opportunity.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Will Obama be Staying Here?

Obama arrives tomorrow and social media is alive with questions about where he is staying - the Embassy, the Ambassador's Residence, the Don Chan Palace (ugly hotel on the river) or on board Airforce One.  However no - one has suggested ....The White House - Laos style. 

This place stopped me in my tracks on my bike ride downstream along the Mekong on Sunday.  What style of architecture is this???  The neighbour on one side is a shanty and on the other a similar monstrosity, but an apricot color.  There is  a huge gravel/mine behind on the river so maybe the owners have made their money out of stones!

The road out the front is definitely not Philadelphia Avenue.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Monday Monk on the street in Mandalay in Myanmar

A common Mandalay street scene - scooters, monks, dust and squatting men.

Monks are a common sight on the streets of Mandaly.  Most men will spend some stage of their life in the monastery.  This fellow squatting and selling fuel (in plastic bottles) was probably a monk once.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Everything will be Spick and Span for the Visitors

Teams of workers have been out over the past few days, tidying up Vientiane for ASEAN this week, like these men painting red and white stripes on the kerb of a major road near Patuxi monument.

Lots of uniform police in town today - some with guns - but all with crisp khaki uniforms.

Pink Sunset

More clouds at sunset.  The storms seem to travel upstream along the river.  Last night I sat in a tiny riverside establishment/shanty enjoying a Beer Lao, watching the clouds change colour, shape and magnitude.  

Friday, 2 September 2016

School Photo Day


School photos were this week.  After the Grade level photo (thirty- one Grade 10 students), we had Advisory (Homeroom) photos.  I have 8 in advisory this year. 

Back Row  Angie (Laos), Jae Rin, aka Diana (Korea),  Jane (Thailand), Am (Laos), Madison (Australia).

Front Row - me, Niko (Austria/USA), Dragon (Laos) and Alex (Laos).

They are a lovely group, fairly quiet but fun.  Madison only arrived in Vientiane this month and is coping fairly well with the culture shock - she is from the Sunshine Coast, so moving to a land locked poverty stricken, Asian town presents a huge learning curve for her. 

My mission this year is to get Dragon to "use his dragon-ness for good".

Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Librarian's View

On the first day of every month the City Daily Photo Community comes together publishing photos from around the world with their interpretation of a chosen theme.  This month the theme is Library.

While not showing the library this is the librarian's view at VIS.  It is a typical Vientiane view - temple, palm, greenery, stormy clouds and rusty iron.

Click here to see other photos from the CDP community.