Friday, April 17, 2009

Sky Watch Fruit 17 April


I've been spending the week of Lao New Year in Xieng Khouang. My closest friends are here, and I've been going to several baci, or string tying ceremonies, every day. The only problem is that I don't have access to fast internet so I haven't had a chance to upload pictures and post journal entries. And I haven't had the time, what with all the activities going on.


Lao New Year means traveling around and visiting friends. Usually, there's a small ceremony with an elder, who usually had been a monk for several years, chanting Buddhist prayers and then blessing everyone to have good luck and health in the coming year. The blessings are made by pouring a small amount of water on the person's back, to wash away the bad luck of the previous year and bring good luck for the coming year.

Day 86 water throw

sky at suan

We went for a picnic at a friend's farm outside Phonsavanh. They put up the buildings in the foreground, but other people had cut down the trees to raise upland, dry cultivated rice.

The weather contributed to water blessings. Usually, Lao New Year is the hottest time of the year but this year, there was a lot of rain. Didn't make us feel like having water fights.

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

Friday, April 10, 2009

SWF - 10 April 2009


Bangkok haze was thick last week - though it started raining every day. Not just rain but the kind of deluge which makes you think that the whole atmosphere is coming down. It did bring down the dust and pollution, so the clouds building up on the weekend were very impressive against a clean sky.

monsoon clouds

This photo was taken between the Champa trees. The Champa flower is the national flower of Laos - though there are none in this picture.

Day 80 moon

I'm posting a bit early this week because it's after midnight and I can't sleep. The night is hot, humid and sticky. Hot season.

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

Friday, April 03, 2009

SWF - 3 April


I viewed the skies in two places this past week. In Vientiane, the hazy skies became more clear when washed by several thunderstorms. I arrived in Bangkok on Weds morning, just after a storm so the sky has been unusually clear here as well.

Last week, I went on one of my long walks. I was enjoying the shape of a palm against the intense blue sky when I saw something special in the tree.

Palm and sky

He was cutting ripe coconuts out of the tree and lowering them to the ground by a pulley system.

I also passed this temple entrance on one of my walks last weekend. At first, I though the shapes in the triangle were cut outs, revealing the sky behind. Then I looked closer and realized the illusion - often tiny mirrored tiles are used in the decoration.

reflective temple entry

Even in the closeup, it's hard to see the joints between the mirrors.


The weather in Bangkok has been nice the past few days - well hot, but not the painful kind of hot that comes with smog. This is a stitched together view of one of my favorite places, Lumphini Park in central Bangkok.


And a view of the building craze still going on in Bangkok:

view of construction

I remember there used to be a great market here, plus several sleezy bars I enjoyed going to. One of the bars, the Cock and Bull, had a great Philippino country-western band. After working Saturdays at the refugee camp, we'd often take the late afternoon bus to Bangkok for the rest of the weekend and stayed in a rundown guest house near here.

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

Thursday, April 02, 2009

That's my world! 31 March

A few shots of my life on this Tuesday. I woke up in Vientiane.

naga head

I took this picture before I started my morning run. This is a picture of one of teh Naga heads which will adorn the stairways leading into the new building housing the Buddha images. I wanted to get a shot of the workmen molding the images but they have eluded me.

So I set off on my three mile route. About halfway through, I saw this thundercloud lurking over Thailand on the other side of the Mekong.

storm over thailand

I didn't think that it was coming in our direction so I trotted off on my regular route. Just as I was turning back, the storm hit and I had to stand on someone's porch until the rain slowed down a bit. It was just a bit surprising - it's been unusually dry at this time of the year so I'm glad for the rain.

Later on in the day - after a morning full of meetings, and finishing up odds and ends at work, I headed over to Thailand and took the overnight train to Bangkok. This was the scene at the Udorn Thani station.

Udorn station

The sleeper cars on the train are comfortable and not very expensive, so it's usually a nice ride to Bangkok. I kept waking up during the night though. Around midnight, I saw these people waiting at a train station.

Ban phai train staton

I wondered where they were going at this hour of the night.

This is my contribution to That's My World.

ABC Wedesday: K for Kites


This is the season when the hot winds blow constantly and kids run around flying their kites.


This boy couldn't stand to just got home when it got dark. He had to continue flying his kite.

These pictures were actually taken over a year ago but as I was going through my flickr pages, I laughed when I saw these. I hadn't seen them for a while.

This is my contribution for the letter "K" for ABC Wednesday! Check it out!