Location: Vientiane, Laos
here is the link to my new blog. I am playing around with the look of it, but there is a post nonetheless.
I'm back and in the swing of things in Laos. Busy getting back into the swing of things and will write soon. I have researched other blog sites and I will be changing from Planet Ranger. Stay tuned for my new link!
Location: Vientiane, Laos
I know, I know...you haven't heard from me in a long time. But, I have to say that not much has been going on. The past few weeks have been busy with graduation and the end of year hustle and bustle. Graduation went off without a hitch - I didn't botch it up too bad so they'll keep me around for another year!
One thing that is coming up, that I'm not looking too forward to is saying 'good-bye'. As you've seen in many blog entries my colleagues from Michigan -- Tony and Sharon have become quick friends. I am sad to report that they are leaving Laos and will hang their rulers in India next year. Although I'm thrilled that they found fabulous jobs, I would be lying if I didn't say I was sad. I guess this is the big nasty about international teaching- your friends move away. Good thing though is I now have a new place to visit!
Next weekend brings the final staff party and then it's just a few short sleeps until I will board the first of four planes back to Regina. I'm happy to be able to spend Father's Day at home, and equally thrilled that my sister, Ashleigh and her best friend Patrick will be making the trek to Reggie for a week to visit. My social calendar is getting filled, but it's my hope to kick back and spend some quality time with my family while I'm home. I've been dying to kick my dad's ass in cards and curl up on the couch with mom and watch the PVR'd cooking shows!
I do apologize dear followers for not posting much lately - but I haven't been too exciting. I will say this though...next school year looks pretty jam packed.
October - Cambodia
December - Phoenix
April- New Zealand
When are YOU coming to visit?
Until next time...
Location: Hoi An, Vietnam
After what seemed like forever in planes and airports, we arrived in Hoi An, Vietnam. It was quite late so we didnt get to see much on the ride from the Danang airport. Hoi An is a sleepy little Historic Town on a less than clean river. But, its murky water was easily forgotten about when I walked in town.
Hoi An is the Mecca for tailoring. It boasts more than 500 tailors who are happy to copy an existing piece of clothing, or make something from scratch. This was my mission while in Vietnam. Upon recommendation from a colleague, I headed to Kim Chi tailors on 2 Le Loi St. A chipper and well spoken girl, Kim(not the owner, just happened to have the same name) helped me choose fabric and was thrilled that I brought pictures and items to copy. After measurements and tallying
I was at 12 items. I worried about how everything would turn out. So, at 9:30am I walked out of the tailor under instruction to be back at 7pm for my first fitting. Are you serious?? Long story short, a few fittings later and some pesky shorts that didnt quite work I walked out with a dozen new pieces for my mae ban to care for! My mother is going to love this place!!
A few days later, Kim took me down to the markets to go shopping. It was amazing how much cheaper things were when shopping with a local. Many of the peddlers told her its not your money, so why are you worried about spending it? She got me some great deals and I will definitely see Kim again when I return.
I attended a cooking class at Morning Glory. It is an amazing restaurant and the owner also has two other dining establishments: Cargo Club and Mango Rooms. I highly recommend any of these places. My dad will love the quality treats at the Cargo Club. My cooking class was five hours long and I managed to follow along and not start anything on fire. We did a market tour and I met some great people. I will let the pictures do the talking, but I was full and satisfied when I left. My friends are all eager for me to try my new skills on them.
One day we headed out on to the China Sea. My friend Carol was doing her PADI(SCUBA) certification and Sharon, Tony, and I went along. Because of my bad ears, Im not a candidate for SCUBA but I did manage to swim and frolic in the Sea. The visibility wasnt great, but as many of you know
Im a water baby and am happy to be in the sun and floating around.
Most days were spent laying by the pool for a big chunk of it, getting clothes fitted, and walking around the historic town. One of my most favourite things in Hoi An are the beautiful lanterns that are being sold at dark. The colours and textures were amazing. Of course, a few happened to fall into my suitcase!
Arrived home to Pii Mai festivities in Vientiane. I have managed to get absolutely soaked on several occasions from New Year celebrations. Hoses, buckets and water balloons have hit me quite a few times. Its been a great spring break. Hard to believe in two short months I will be home for a visit.
Sokdee Pii Mai!!
Until next time
Location: Vientiane, Laos
Floral shirts, silver pots of perfumed water, marigold garlands, mounds of sand, wet hair and a general spirit of excitement can only mean one thing here in Vientiane: Pii Mai Lao!
Lao New Year takes places April 14-16, and the celebrations are just getting started. Friday was our last day of school before a two-week vacation, so we held a special Pii Mai assembly. First, children strung garlands of marigolds and frangipani, the Lao national flower. Primary and secondary kids worked together with the assistance of Lao staff members.
Then secondary students explained the legend behind some of the Pii Mai traditions, followed by a skit about the annual Miss Pii Mai contest and a water blessing ceremony.
After the water blessing demonstration, classes met to bless their teachers. This is one of my favorite experiences of the school year in Laos. The children offer such heartfelt appreciation for their teachers. Very touching.
Water plays a big role in the Pii Mai holiday, so people inevitably get wet (whether they want to or not). In that spirit, our assembly wrapped up with water games on the soccer field.
Happy Pii Mai Everyone!!
Lao New Year Traditions:
Water is used for washing homes, Buddha images, monks, and soaking friends and passers-by. Students first respectfully pour water on their elders, then monks for blessings of long life and peace, and last of all they throw water each other. The water is perfumed with flowers or natural perfumes. Some people prefer flowers in the water to give a pleasant smell, as well as adding cologne/perfume. The idea of watering came from the legend of King Kabinlaphom, whose seven daughters kept his severed head in a cave. The daughters would visit their father's head every year and perform a ritual to bring happiness and good weather. Over the years another tradition has developed with Lao New Year: people will smear or throw cream (shaving cream or whipped cream) or white powder on each other during the celebrations.
During Lao New Year, there are many spectacles including traditional Lao music, mor-lam, and lam-wong (circle dancing). During the daytime almost everybody is at the temple worshipping, hoping to have a healthier and happier life in the new year. During the evening, people of all ages go to the wat for entertainment.
Enjoy the pictures...Until next time...
Location: Vientiane, Laos
I know it's been awhile since I 'blogged' but there honestly hasn't been much blogworthy in the last several weeks...until today. Myself and four other colleagues were invited to our friend Morven's for a Lao Cooking Class. She is starting a business called Lao Experiences where the focus is to learn authentic Laos cuisine by way of fresh produce. We used all fresh ingredients and were guided to make the most healthy and beautiful dishes. I will let the pictures do the talking, but it was a great morning of food, fun, and cooking!
Location: V-town, Laos
Just a note to say that I'm still alive and well. Not much blogworthy action going on here, but stay tuned for March and April when I head to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and Hoi An, Vietnam.
Until next time...
Location: Kuwait, Egypt, Thailand, Laos
Well, my month of holidays are officially over and I felt the need to update my peeps(mainly Lori St. Dennis who is a self-professed "blog stalker")!
A few short days after school ended in December, I hopped on a plane to Kuwait. Kuwait you ask? Yes, Kuwait. I have a good friend who is teaching there and we decided that we were going to spend Christmas together. I arrived to a very gloomy looking city. I couldn't decide if it was really that drab or if it was because I had literally been in the jungle for the past five months of my life. Kuwait is a concrete jungle full of malls, money, and men in dresses(dishdashas) who smell incredibly good. I had serious sticker shock and you can imagine my surprise when my purchases at IKEA were 5X more than what I would have paid in Canada. Who knew??
Jestina took me to a fabric souk, and several markets to satisfy my need for retail therapy. I did in fact purchase so much fabric and other gifts that I had to buy a new suitcase to bring all my goodies back!
December 23rd we boarded a plane for Egypt. Yes, I was going to spend Christmas in Egypt. Crazy. Our first stop was a little resort in Dahab. We were right on the water and the resort was cozy. We made several friends with Brits and Scots but NOT the Russians. Boy, are they rude!!! On Christmas day we embarked on a snorkeling adventure. How did we get there you ask? Well, we rode camels. If you're wondering, my butt has just to pre-camel shape. It was seriously tough work riding one. We swam and snorkeled at Abo Gallum and the Blue Hole. Both outstanding. We were treated to a lunch made by the Bedouins and when we returned to the hotel we fought over who was going to get in the shower and remove the salt water matte from our hair!
December 26th we took ourselves to Sharm el Sheik. You may recall that recently quite a few tourists have lost lives and limbs in these waters. We steared clear of the water for fear of becoming "War Amps" but also because collectively we may possibly have the worst luck ever. Sharm was a huge change from Dahab. We stayed at a massive resort with 2000 rooms and 12 pools. A bit too big for my liking, but I did manage to get my tan on which was a priority for this pasty white Canuck. I preferred Dahab, but sitting by the pool and checking out the sites and sounds of the market was incredible. I will say this...Egyptian men are the smoothest operators I've ever met. I had 5 marriage proposals before I bought my first t-shirt, which was for my dad, and by allowing the vendor to touch my butt got me $2 off. Dad would be so proud!
December 30th we boarded the plane and headed back to Kuwait. We were pretty lazy and did some more shopping and on New Years Eve we celebrated with take out and an evening full of cards, laughs, and snacks with one of Jes's neighbours and colleagues, Jude. Before I knew it my two weeks in the middle east and Africa were complete. I hopped on a plane on the 1st to come back to Laos to switch bags and do laundry before heading on the second part of my holiday adventure.
My very good friend, Michelle whom lives outside of Alberta was given the gift of a flight to come and see me. I'm convinced her husband Mike was actually giving himself a holiday too :) Mike is a fabulous fella who graciously cared for their 3 and 1 year old daughters while working full time on the dairy farm. I understand why Michelle refers to him as her "dreamboat".
I met Michelle in Bangkok at 1:00am on January 5th. There were tears of joy and we were giddy with the excitement of seeing each other. We quickly got to our hotel where we hit the sack because we had an early flight the next morning. Phuket, here we come!! We lucked out and got a great room at a cute little boutique hotel. We went to the "Simon Cabaret" which is a bunch of men singing show tunes. The next morning we packed up and boarded a big boat to embark on what would be the most beautiful place on earth, Koh Phi Phi. I will let the pictures speak for themselves, but sadly they don't even do the place justice.
Two days in Phi Phi and then back to Phuket for a night...up the next day at en route to Bangkok. We spent two days in Bangkok and managed to go to a movie where we sat in leather seats and reclined(I slept), saw the Grand Palace, and did alot of spa'ing and bartering on the streets. It was so fabulous to be with Michelle. If we weren't laughing we were eating, or having massages, or kicking each other's ass in cards. A perfect holiday!
We boarded the plane on January 12th(my mama's bday) and came back to Laos where I was excited to show her my part of the world. We spent half days at spas, rode around on Scooby the scooter, ate, shopped, haggled. Before I knew it I was putting my friend on a plane and my thirty days of holidays were over.
It was stunning to me that in a month I was in Egypt, Kuwait, Thailand, and Laos. I'm so thrilled and blessed that I have been given this opportunity to be a broad abroad!
Until next time...