Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A day in Vientiane

After returning to Vientiane on Monday night, I was greeted by a temple fair in my back yard. This fair was organized by a family doing a Maha Krathin. While this ceremony is usually done by a family once every five years or so, the temple fair, with its games of knock-over-the-can and and bingo, are usually not part of the deal.

Maha Krathin is usually done in the month before or the month following the period of Buddhist Lent (though it can be done at other times of the year, outside Buddhist Lent time), and involves a day of preparation followed by feeding the monks at the house during the morning and then going to the temple with donations in time for the monks mid-day meal. The community members walk around the temple with their donation and then offer food to the monks for the mid-day meal and prayer together.

My temple is working on finishing the Boht, the building housing the Buddha images. The building looks like it's about half done now, but still needs the community to do fund-raising like this. So, in spite of not being able to get my car out of the driveway to go to the office, I didn't mind the fair.

So this morning started off roughly. I had been upcountry for three weeks, and there was no one to start up the car every day. So the battery was quite dead. At the same time, a group of guests arrived at the office - one of them had urgent business back in Vietnam, so my staff were helping them get all that arranged. I finally arrived at the office around 9 am, and spent the morning with our guests. In the afternoon, I was snowed under paper work and running to make meetings with various people in few moments I had left in Vientiane. I had planned to attend a lunch meeting - but when I tried to start my car, it was dead again. I think a belt or something in the alternator is broke - even after getting a charge and running to re-charge the battery, it still didn't work.

In the evening, after a happy hour with friends, I took the overight bus to Pakse, leaving the car behind for our office mechanics to figure out!

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