Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weekend in Bangkok


I haven't been keeping my blogs up and posting pictures. Well, the picture part has been difficult. After my camera was run over by a car, it still worked well enough. But a couple of weeks again, it got lost. I was walking and a small bag I was carrying got lost. I did have some good pictures on it, which I hadn't transferred to my laptop; otherwise, it was the call to get a new camera.

The picture above was taken in the store in Bangkok.

I walked over to another shopping center and took this picture of floor of the Siam Discovery mall:

My foot

I guess it's kinda strange that they'll let scruffy people like me into the place.

Strange but true, Thais love Christmas. All the stores are decorated and people are taking pictures in front of the artificial Christmas trees and all.

Christmas at Paragon

This is all set against the backdrop of continued problems in Thailand. The People's Alliance for Democracy, the anti-Taksin group, promised the biggest demonstration ever for Sunday. They have been occupying the grounds of the Government House for over two months now. There have been several outbreaks of violence, where police had thrown tear gas which exploded like bombs, killing and injuring people. The pro-Taksin groups getting together as well - they wear red shirts, while the PAD wear yellow (showing their support for the king). The pro-Taksin group has had several rallies, with Taksin addressing the crowds via video feed. In the meantime, his wife has been convicted of fraud, and Taksin faces charges if he returns to Thailand, which may have to be soon since the UK revoked his visa. Somewhere along the line, he said that he plans to re-enter politics.

The whole story would be unbelievable as a novel - and this is real life.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


This is the view around Xieng Khouang, taken during the rice harvest.

rice harvesting

A lot of folks are saying that a lot of rice is getting moldy and they won't be able to sell it. Families may keep the moldy rice for their own consumption and sell the rice which hasn't gotten moldy.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Saturday morning

Well, it's 1 November. The weather should be cooling off, and farmers should be working long hours to bring in the rice harvest. Instead, it's been raining heavily the past few days in Vientiane, starting in the early morning and continuing until mid-morning, but today it has rained all morning.

The problem is that this is the harvest season. A morning sprinkle is fine, but the heavy rain makes the rice plants break - the plants knocked down by the rain have to be cut quickly because they can't even dry when when sun comes out. The longer it rains, the more the rice is flattened. And then the rice kernels are wet and the sheaves are full of water so take more labor to carry. They are stacked in sheaves under tarps, or under the houses, with the hope the sun will come out, when people will spread out tarps on the roads and thresh the rice.

Usually, the dried rice stalks are stacked in mounds in the dried fields, with the bottoms of the stalks on the outside and the heads in the center, so they can more fully dried, and any rice kernels that drop off and collected in the middle of the rice haystack. If it rains during the night, it's not a problem; the farmer throws a tarp over the mound - but with this kind of rain, the rice can not be stacked.

What with late rains, rains that rain too much when they rain, floods and now late rains, I think this years rice crops are in trouble. At least around Vientiane.

The life of a rice farmer is not easy.