Sunday, March 29, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday - 29 March 09

pipes bnw

These PVC pipes are blue but somehow the shadows and the way they make the pipes so round, only seem to jump out in B 'n W.

Check out more shadows here:

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Day 70 two places at same time

I took a series of 3 photos at this temple but it wasn't until I uploaded them that I realized I had gotten the vendor both coming and going. I'm going to try more of this stitch photos with the same people in different poses in different parts of the composite.

Friday, March 27, 2009

SWF - 27 March 09


A couple of wild thunderstorms have passed through the area. The clashing of the heat rising from the plains and the clouds at this time of the year is very dramatic.

storm coming

The really nice thing is the dust in the air gets cleaned up and the skies are so clear in the mornings. The air feels lighter.

wmw full siz

This is the new building at Wat Meuang Wa. The lovely mural of the Buddha surrounded by the animals coming for teaching was just finished a week ago.

new scene wmw

View from the front. It's amazing how blue the sky was this morning.

This is my contribution to Skywatch Friday, whose members post pictures of the skies around the world.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

ABC Wedesday: J for Joy


These kids looked full of joy. The adults don't look that happy but children find something to turn them on - the wind, the dust, the adventure of the tok-tok ride.

This is my contribution to ABC Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kids on bikes

Panoramas of my world

I enjoy fooling around with my camera settings and these past few days I've discovered photo-stitch, so now all my pictures are panoramas until I get tired of the novelty. I'm running around trying to take 4 - 5 - 6 pictures and more to make up a 360 view. However, the landscape starts getting a bit weird.

This street scene looks like it got stuck between two universes:


This one isn't so bad though check out the power lines:

Day 66 Vientiane street scene

The water in the Mekong looks like it's flowing uphill:


But it's fun. Have to keep practicing.

That's my world contribution for this week.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monochrome Monday with Ox Cart


Ox carts used to be the major mode of transportation in SE Asia. They are still used widely in rural areas but even a few years ago, I saw them in small cities in Thailand. Well, not on the main roads but in the streets near the rice fields.

They are disappearing now. With the development of the two-wheeled tractor, people can use it both to plow fields and, but changing the wheels from tractor treads to truck wheels, they have multi-purpose transportation. A few months ago, when the price of gas was so high, many people returned to using water buffalo to plow their fields and ox to pull carts. I wonder whether this trend will continue.

Many people are buying the carts and the cart wheels to use for decoration - in front of restaurants or in their gardens.

This is my contribution to Monochrome Monday.

Mellow Yellow Monday - Dok Khun

Dok Khun

Commonly known as the 'golden shower tree,' the Dok Khun flowers start to bloom just before New Year. The flowers, tied together in bunches, are used for scattering water for water blessing ceremonies. They are also in the silver bowl of water used for the New Year's blessings. Since they have so many cultural uses, it's easy to see why the Dok Khun is the National Flower of Thailand.

Whenever I see the flowers, I feel the great lazy feeling of this time of the year. March through May are the hot season, with the hottest part of the year during mid-April, which is the time of the Lao New Year.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday - 22 March 09

chairs and shadows

My view when I was eating breakfast in Sekong this past week.

Click on the icon to see other shadow shots from around the globe.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Regular Saturday

I've had a perfectly lazy day. This past week, I traveled down to Salavan then on to Sekong Province where some medical staff, we've trained in first aid, passed along their knowledge to village health volunteers. On Tuesday, we returned to Salavan and I attended some meetings on Weds. On Thursday, we stopped at a district hospital to see how they were doing and then continued on to Vientiane.

I deserved to have a lazy day. I finally left the house for a walk in the late afternoon, and stopped for dinner.


First time I've had dinner at this restaurant on the Mekong riverbank. The food is good and it's just 3 minutes walk from my house.

Mekong long

My view while eating dinner. This is the first time I've tried photo stitch and the two photos just went right together into one. Have to try more of this.

maeng mao

After yesterday's rains, the maeng mao or drunk bugs came out. They are flying termites who crash around the lights, fall down and after they've lost their wings, dig into the ground or die in the attempt. Geekos or humans eat them - the humans put out pans of water to catch the bugs and then deep fry them.

I don't like eating them much - they're very bitter. Now I'm catching up on the internet stuff though my connection keeps disconnecting. I'm always amazed that the internet works at all.

Reading Spin State by Chris Moriarty. Best 'hard' science fiction book I've read for a while, though the whole Einstein-Bose condensate and what it's supposed to do makes my head spin. And by entanglement, other heads should spin as well.

Anyway, back to the book.

Friday, March 20, 2009

SWF - 20 March 09


Continuing on the theme of 'dust season.' It's been hot and dry here, not much relief from the few drops of rain that sometimes appear. The sky is opaque.

Thursday morning, the dawn was very strange. The whole sky glowed pink. It reminded me of how old science fiction films portrayed Mars.

pink sky

This is part of the reason why it's so hazy - dust roads and buses.


Women trying to keep the dust off themselves.


Actually, people tend to use umbrellas to protect themselves more from the sun than from the rain.

snake mountain

When we drove back to Vientiane on Thursday, we were about a kilometer from Snake Mountain, one of our landmarks, before we could start to make it out through the haze.

sugar palms

Still, in the irrigated fields, you can still see some green under the gray skies.

This is my contribution to Skywatch Friday, whose members post pictures of the skies around the world.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

ABC Wedesday: Imperial

Just in case anyone doubted, Cats are really Gods in disguise. This cat knew that he was entitled to drink the water on the altar. It was offered to him after all.

Day 62 All cats are gods in disguise

I saw another imperial cat in residence in a spirit house, waiting for offerings to be brought to him.

caught in act

Saturday, March 14, 2009

SWF - 13 March 09


The skies have been thick and gray recently. There's a big smoke cloud covering SE Asia, mostly the result of people burning the stubble and organic trash on their fields so they can prepare for the next growing season. Many of my pictures over the past week include a white or powder blue sky.


The bright colored structures are funerary monuments, or chedhi. They are made of concrete, with a little room and door in the structure to place the ashes of the diseased. They are usually placed in the yard of the Buddhist temple, but with some cultural traditions, they can be placed just outside communities, on low-lying hills or in fields.

temple entrance

In spite of the haze, life goes on. We passed this ceremony and my staff continued to have a discussion about what its significance. Were they opening a new section of the temple, or was this a merit-making festival?

There are high clouds in the sky but they can barely be seen through the dust. Last night, a big wind blew up and this morning, dust is covering everything in my house. The air is also cool so I wonder if there was a storm somewhere nearby. That would be nice - even though it's dry season, it does rain a few times during these months. People call these storms, "Mango rains" as the moisture helps to ripen the mangoes.

This is my contribution to Skywatch Friday, whose members post pictures of the skies around the world.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

ABC Weds - H's

This is a Haystack of rice straw in Xieng Khouang Province. When the rice is cut, the stalks are carried to the haystack and they are laid down with the head of the stalk, with the rice kernels, on the inside. It's built up and a cap made of rice straw laid on top, to seal the stack. After a week, the straw and rice kernels are dry enough to thresh.

Some people make patterned woven symbols at the top of the stack, which keep out bad influences and keeps the spirit of the rice within.

Harvesting rice
And here are some farmers cutting the rice. Harvest is usually October through November, though it depends on the region of the country.

After a hard day at work, the farmers return home with their cows. Homeward:


This is my contribution to the letter "H" on ABC Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

That's my World! Dry and Wet

heart sugar palms

The year is starting to propel us into the hot season. The fields are dry, the sky is obscured by dust. I took this picture of sugar palms in a very dry field near my house in Salavan. I walked into the field, behind someone's house and walked back and forth to get the angle right.

As I returned to the road, with its one-inch layer of dust, I heard a noise behind me. A woman came out of the house I had been standing behind. I guess she heard me and came out to see who it was. She looked shocked to see it was a foreigner!

Some of the fields are irrigated.

brown and green

The fields in the front are not. Not all fields are irrigated, just enough to farm and to conserve water. Most of the small streams have dried up.

When the heat gets to be too much, we can stop by the Thad Lor waterfall.

fisherman and falls

That's my world, and my contribution to That's My World!

ABC Wednesday: Some G's?

Good enough to eat?

Day 49 good enough to eat

This was lunch on 7 March, in honor of International Women's Day. Sour fish soup, spring rolls, sticky rice and goi pa, a spicy fish salad.

This is a picture of a dazzlingly red flower in a garden by a restaurant, made even more intense by using the color accent on my camera.


Kinda looks like an animal.

And a gas station near my office, on a busy Friday afternoon:

gas station

These pictures are in honor of ABC Wednesday, even though I usually don't post on Wendesdays!

Friday, March 06, 2009

SWF - 6 March 09


Another week has flown by. We started with a typical long drive to the south. It took all day - well, we were slow getting off on a Sunday morning. At sunset, we stopped to stretch our legs and the moon smiled down on us.


This was the view from the back of my house in Salavan on Tuesday night.


I hadn't been down here for over a month so even this sunset was very spectacular.

Then I returned home one day to find a helicopter parked in my back yard. Well, it's the old air strip back in the days when passenger flights used to run between Vientiane and Salavan. The following morning, the helicopter took off.

Day 45 Taking off

It sprayed my house with dust. Very impolite.

We worked in Pakse on Wednesday and Thursday. Yesterday, we stopped by these floating restaurants for lunch. This is the Mekong River, near the ferry to Wat Phou, a Khmer-style temple. It's on the other side of the river from here.


This is my contribution to Skywatch Friday, whose members post pictures of the skies around the world.