Thursday, 30 April 2015

Serene Buddha

This calm and serene Buddha watched over the ceremony on Saturday.  Or maybe he was meditating, while the breeze gently moved the golden embroidered banners.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Organising an Ordination

This monk was busy on his mobile phone on Saturday at Wat Phan Tao.  Obviously there must be many messages to send and read on ordination day.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Two lovely ladies

Khun Pranpet and Khun MR, the two lovely ladies that I met on Saturday at the ordination ceremony.
I am not sure on the spelling of their names, but you can tell from their gentle smiles that they are lovely people.  MR, at the front is 86 and Pranpet on the left is 66.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Becoming a monk is way for young men to make merit for themselves and for their family (especially your mother as a woman can't make merit by becoming a monk).
Family was important and evident at yesterday's ceremony at Wat Phan Tao. Family members were present inside the Wat, to watch and to present robes,  and outside afterwards for a shared meal under a small marquee.
Monks must be twenty before they can be ordained, but these boys looked very young, probably twelve to fifteen years of age.  Very young to be leaving home.
Many monks come from poor families and this seemed evident to me yesterday. The family above are dressed in hill tribe clothing.  They would not be able to afford to educate their children so becoming a monk is seen as a valuable opportunity.  I'm not sure the young boy was looking too enthusiastic about the future and his mother also looked pensive.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Ordination of novice monks

Today at Wat Phan Tao, a Wat I have visited several times, I participated in a ceremony for young novice monks. I am not actually  sure if it was an ordination or a robe presenting ceremony, or maybe postulants making a commitment to train in monastic rules.  It was the Buddhist New Year last week and these boys may have only just joined the monastery.

In Thai the novices are known as samanen or "nen" and postulants are called pa kow.
The main difference between a pa-kow and a novice is that a pa-kow is still able to own and handle money, and therefore has more freedom and independence, while the novice adopts an additional precept that prevents him from ownership and the handling and use of money.

I noticed the person next to me included a  100 Baht note in with the robe, so I did too, so maybe this indicates that the boys are not yet samanen.

They all wore white robes and had freshly shaven heads.  Head shaving may have occurred in an early part of the ceremony.

It was  a very special occasion and I felt very lucky to have been part of the ritual. Two lovely older women encouraged me to participate.  I stayed later after the young monks had left and ate with them and chatted using my 5 Thai words and their limited but clear English.

My role was to wrap white cotton threads around each wrist, wish him good luck and then to present the novice with a set of orange robes.  I do hope everything works out for him and that monastic life is not too harsh.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Friday Flowers - Singapore Botanic Gardens

I spent a lovely afternoon in Singapore exploring the extensive and colorful Botanic Gardens.  They were  very lovely and provided a cool respite.  The ginger gardens were wonderful, the orchids sublime and I like this bright arch covered walkway.
Enjoy your weekend

Back to the Elephants

The elephants are back, but only in the afternoon and in a smaller group.
I took Margaretanne and Tony up to visit them yesterday after school.
They loved the elephants and were impressed by their size, but also their gentleness.
Great to be still able to visit the elephants and wonderful to have friends to share the experience.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

A Singapore Sling Selfie in Singapore

It may be a cliché, but while in Singapore, the Singapore Sling became my drink of choice.
This photo is for Helen McIntytre, not in the Long Bar, but in the very pleasant Courtyard at Raffles Hotel.  It had to be done!!
My introduction to the Singapore Sling was at the Fullerton Bay Hotel overlooking the lights of the Marina - great location and a very good drink.  In my opinion better than Raffles.  Further research is called for.

I was in Singapore for a few days of my break to attend a Conference for Guidance Counsellors working in International Schools in Asia.  It was great.  Lots of new, relevant and interesting information from engaging presenters.  It was inspiring to meet Counsellors working in other International Schools and hear their perspectives.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Chicken or Turkey

 Chicken Island, Koh Gai, was a feature of our sunset cruise.  The outcrop supposedly looks like a chicken, but I thought it was more like a turkey.
We stopped to go snorkeling near by.  There were some colorful fish related to Nemo and plenty of sea anemones.  The water was slightly murky and the coral nearly dead.  Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef has spoilt me.  The experience here was fun, but makes me appreciate the beauty of Australia even more.  The Great Barrier Reef is precious and must be protected.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Railay Rocks

Railay is a mecca for rock climbers in Thailand. The spectacular limestone outcrops are craggy and ideal for climbing. With concern, we watched a group of tourists climbing near Railay East beach; no helmets, no shirts and little instruction. 
On our last morning we intermittently swam and watched two climbers on this rockface above this beach at the Railay west. Awesome!
Across the bay was a small village, Ton Sa Rai, with lots of rubbish on the beach and in the sand. I dubbed it Nimbin, as it was awash with Bob Marley posters, rainbow coloured flags, alternative bamboo structures, ads for rock climbing trips and seemed to be the hangout for climbers and those seeking a cheap and relaxed hut for a beach holiday.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Back from Break

Spring break is over and it's back into the classroom for Quarter 4, my last at APIS.
So a sunset photo is appropriate.
This was taken on a sunset cruise last Thursday, out from Railay Beach (near Krabi, for those of you familiar with Thai geography and beach resorts ).
I spent 4 relaxing and enjoyable days there with good friends from home Margaretanne Hood and her husband Tony Williams.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

The Road

Looking forward to some time on the road from Gapsted to Beechworth.
Hope to see you soon.
While I am break, the blog will be on break.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Good Friday Bougainvillea

 More bougainvillea for Friday.  The paler tones and creamy colored bougainvilleas are a counterpoint to the more brilliant reds, oranges and pinks.
This huge cream bougainvillea is on the roadside not far from school.  The photo was taken during the smoky season.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Autumn in Beechworth

Hopefully the Liquid Amber trees in front of the old Beechworth gaol will be in full autumn tones when I get to see them this weekend.
Yes I am coming home for an impetuous,  brief and much needed  and time with family and friends.
At school everyone is talking about "Spring Break" but to me it will be autumn break or as the American's say  the "Fall Break".

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Fire Safety - Emergency Sign

Banners like this one near school, promote fire awareness.  I liked the irony that itb is now surrounded by charred earth from the burning.
Similar signs usually also include images of smoke and temples - maybe by including a temple the authorities are hoping to emphasize the possible damage caused by fires.
Its my scooter in the foreground.