Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Brief Look at Lao-British Relations


Tens of thousands of UK tourists have been visiting Laos for years.  Indeed when you travel in Laos, you will inevitably meet British tourists.  However, it was only in 2012 that the UK reopened an embassy in Vientiane.  Here are some questions and answers on Lao-British relations.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

International Doctors Provide Free Surgery for Burn Victims

Vientiane Times, January 23, 2014

The Interplast Australia and New Zealand medical team will conduct a free consultation clinic at Mahosot Hospital on February 24 and perform subsequent surgeries from February 25 until March 7.

During their two-week visit, Dr. James Savundra and Dr. Philip Slattery will lead the seven-strong medical team to work with over 30 local doctors and nurses from Mahosot Hospital on plastic and reconstructive surgery.
The team – which includes anesthetists Dr. David Vyse and Dr. Christopher Lowry along with nurses Ms. Samantha Jervios, Ms. Gillian Bathgate and Ms. Shannon Muir – will also train local staff in burns management and treatment.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Why Book Reviews?

Whenever I tell people about this blog and about how I include book reviews, I always get this blank stare.  It feels as though there's an implied sentiment that books are boring and "why would I post reviews of it?"


So to expand a bit further, I thought I'd share my reasons:

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cucumber Salad - Dtum Mak Dtaeng

Simple, delicious and healthy. Enjoy it with sticky rice. :)

Video Credit: Youtube User Thai&LaoFood/Laprom.com

Monday, December 8, 2014

Psychedelic Temple

It was one year ago this week that I had revisited Laos in an amazing and fun trip, seeing both old and new things.  Having said that, I was reminiscing and going through my library of images.  I took this one out and reworked it a bit.  My psychedelic temple from Vientiane - somehow colorfully dark.

Vientiane Temple Colorfully Dark

Lao Book Review: Creating Laos - The Making of a Lao Space Between Indochina and Siam, 1860-1945

Creating Laos - The Making of a Lao Space Between Indochina and Siam, 1860-1945
Title:  Creating Laos - The Making of a Lao Space Between Indochina and Siam, 1860-1945
By:  Soren Ivarsson
Publisher/Year:  NIAS Press, 2008
ISBN:  9788776940232
Price:  $20

Overall, it is an enthralling and educational read as it combines the topics of Lao identity, history, politics and culture.  Whether or not you agree with the author's arguments on how the ideas of Lao identity came to be, you can still appreciate the in-depth analysis he provides and the plethora of details.  Note that the book, as the title indicates, specifically covers only periods of 1860 to 1945.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Lao Coffee Gets Its Own Festival

What better way to promote a product than to give it its own festival.  Featuring the 1st Lao Coffee Festival from last month (October 2014).  Lao coffee can be a bit expensive if you're buying it from outside Laos.  Nonetheless it's high quality and often organically farmed.  It's also one of the first few Lao food exports to have gained traction overseas.  Here's a video clip from Vientiane Times on Youtube.

Video Credit:  Vientiane Times

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

List of Different Lao Textiles

Borrowed from LaoTextile.blogspot.com's 2011 post on a list of some of the different sinh or seen that Lao women wear.  As described in the post, the names and ways in which the textiles are identified related to what technique or material that was used, which ethnic group it's often associated with or perhaps named for a particular motif.
  • seen mee (ikat)
  • seen muk (supplementary warp)
  • seen kor / sinh chok (discontinuous supplementary weft)
  • seen keet (continuous supplementary weft)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Good Old Lao Love Song - ກ້ຽວສາວແຄມງື່ມ

Haven't posted Lao music video in a while.  Here's a good old Lao love song, one that'll help set the mood.  It's called kiew sow kaem ngeum / ກ້ຽວສາວແຄມງຶ່ມ.

Video Credit:  Posted by Youtube user Khoun07.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hmong New Year Dance Troop

It's from last year (2013) but no less still fun to watch this wonderfully talented dance troop perform.  Nice music too.  Have a look.

Video Credit:  Youtube user MeLovelyTV

Nyob Zoo Xyoo Tshiab! Happy (Hmong) New Year!

It's the beginning of December which marks the Hmong New Year.  They have a rich culture and very unique traditions and celebrations and are a large ethnic minority within Laos.

Here's a wonderful video from this past New Year with a beautiful song and footage of what goes on during traditional Hmong New Year.  Enjoy!

Video Credit:  Youtube user ehmongdvd.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ambulance Volunteers Save Lives in Vientiane

Volunteers save lives in Vientiane, Laos, where road toll is among world's worst
By Anne Barker, ABC (Australia), November 24, 2014

Photo Credit:  Anne Barker.  Sebastien Perret and Vientiane Rescue volunteers try to extract a young driver trapped and injured in a smashed truck.
Photo Credit:  Anne Barker.  Sebastien Perret and Vientiane Rescue volunteers try to extract a young driver trapped and injured in a smashed truck.

Vientiane has been dubbed the most relaxed capital in the world, with its wide boulevards, low-rise buildings, and sleepy, colonial charm.

But come nightfall the streets in this laid-back city become extremely dangerous and lawless.

Speed limits in Laos are rarely enforced. There's not a single red-light camera, no roadside breath units, and underage and unlicensed driving is rife.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Genie in the Light Bulb

Title:  The Genie in the Light Bulb
Publisher/Year/Format:  CineFete, 2012, DVD
Directors:  Martin Meissonnier and Pascal Signolet
Length:  51 minutes
Publisher's Link:  http://www.cinefete.ca/en/site/products/genie-in-the-light-bulb


DVD front cover image of The Genie in the Light BulbI found an English copy of this DVD at my local library recently and borrowed it (Note: There's also a French version).  What a good find!  Yet another reason why I love my public library.

About the documentary film: 

Essentially, the film makers follow the NGO Energy Without Borders on their project to bring electricity to a small, northern, remote village of Hat Hin in Phongsaly, Laos.  Not only is the process of it all profiled but also the villagers themselves and how electricity changes their lives.  Sprinkled in all that is a bit of village drama, the highs and lows.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lao Word of the Day: To Put On Make-Up

Lao Word of the Day:  To Put On Make-Up - written in Lao and English

Dtaeng na literally means to ready one's face.  In Lao, it has the equivalent meaning of putting on make-up on one's face.

Monday, November 10, 2014

So What Exactly is Sticky Rice?

By:  Alison Spiegel, The Huffington Post, 11/04/2014

Sticky rice is one of those great joys of Asian cuisine that people love across the globe, but may not fully understand. What makes it sticky? How does it differ from regular white rice? Where does it come from and is it supposed to be that sticky?

 Photo Credit:  Sivanelle, Flickr

Lao Writer Winner of Sci-Fi Poetry Award

The Science Fiction Poetry Association's Elgin Award 2014 was recently awarded to Lao-American writer, Bryan Thao Worra for his book Demonstra.  In this book he uses Lao mythological creatures to tell stories and messages in poetic form.  The artwork in the book was illustrated by Ms. Vongduane Manivong.  Two very talented people.  One can only assume that with such a paring will make this book an interesting read.

Lao poetry book - Demonstra by Bryan Thao Worra.  Illustrated by Vonguane Manivong.

The book is on sale now.  See links below.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lao Artist Profile: Ms. Vongduane Manivong

Ms. Vongduane Manivong, a Lao artist who immigrated to America in 1987, is based out of Dallas, Texas.  Self-described as a visual artist, her work ranges from portraits to abstract styles.  As well, she works with varying materials such as oil paints, pastels, and pencils.  What strikes the viewer at first glance of seeing her artwork is the detail.  Here are some selected examples...


Monday, November 3, 2014

Caring for the Beyond - Two Lao Buddhist Festivals for the Deceased

A documentary film from 2007 about the two festivals in Laos that are related to paying homage to the dead.  The two festivals are boon haw kow padapdin (ບຸນຫໍ່ເຂົ້າປະດັບດິນ) and boon haw kow salak (ບຸນຫໍ່ເຂົ້າສະຫລາກ).  Both festivals are a bit difficult to translate into English.  The first one roughly translates into "wrap rice/food, place on ground" and the second one as "wrap rice/food, with ticket".  Indeed, it sounds odd but once it's explained, you'll understand.  Watching the video will help.  Have a look.


It's in English and Lao.  It was created by Patrice Ladwig and Gregory Kourilsky, along with production company Lao Art Media, for a University of Bristol research project.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Public-Private Child Nutrition Partnership Develops Lao ‘Superkids’

UNICEF Laos, 10 June 2014

Public and private sector partners united in Savannakhet Province in the Lao PDR today to kick-start the ‘1000 Day Project.’ This important initiative targets child nutrition in three provinces (Savannakhet, Saravan, and Attapeu) and sets the stage for further expansion across Lao PDR.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Travelling Salesman

Always the enterprising and entrepreneurial...

A different kind of travelling salesman than what some people might be used to seeing.  Here's one with all his wares on his motorbike. 

Lao travelling salesman with wares packed on his motorbike


Friday, October 24, 2014

Lao Artist Profile: Mr. Sounthone

Here are a few paintings from Vientiane artist, Sounthone, 58.  Love the colors, textures and mix of styles.  A mix of cubism and impressionism styled paintings.

Painting by Lao Painter SounthonePainting by Lao Painter Sounthone

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fred Branfman, Who Exposed Bombing of Laos, Dies at 72

By William Yardley, New York Times, Oct. 6, 2014

Fred Branfman in his Washington office with photos of bombing damage and victims, in 1972. 
Photo Credit:  George Tames/The New York Times.

The Vietnam War was raging when Fred Branfman went to Laos in 1967 as an international aid worker. Determined to immerse himself in the society, he lived with an elderly villager, learned to speak Laotian and became a translator. In time, he met Laotians who told him something startling: There was a second war in their country, a secret American bombing campaign, that was devastating remote villages.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cute Little Cartoon, Big Message

A short animated video entitled "What If".  It's about drunk driving which is unfortunately still a common occurrence in Laos.  It's a cute little cartoon film with a big message.  Have a look.

It was created by Phouthasone Keomoungkhoune and Tata Keovilay.  It was a submission in the Mini-Vientianale Short Film Competition 2014, held in March.

 
WHAT IF by Phouthasone Keomoungkhoune, Mini-Vientianale Short Film Competition 2014 from Vientianale on Vimeo.

Friday, October 17, 2014

UK Cigarette Firm Criticised Over Laos Tobacco Tax Deal

Campaigners say agreement between Imperial Tobacco and the Laos government boosted sales by keeping prices low, and deprived the poor country of million of pounds of tax revenue.
The Guardian (UK newspaper), October 5 2014

Big tobacco sees Asia as a growing market, and keeping prices, and taxes, down is a key strategy. Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

A British tobacco giant has been accused of depriving taxpayers in Laos, one of Asia's poorest countries, of tens of millions of pounds, having struck a special tax deal with its government lasting a quarter of a century.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Literature Review: Vientiane: Transformations of a Lao Landscape

Title:  Vientiane: Transformations of a Lao Landscape
By:  Marc Askew, William S. Logan, Colin Long
Publisher/Year:  Routledge, 2007
ISBN:  9780415596626
Price: $30-40USD
Book cover picture of Vientiane: Transformations of a Lao Landscape

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bug Art!

There is something to be said about the beauty of colors and patterns found in mother nature's creatures, even amongst her smallest ones.

For the entomologist in us all, here's a small collection of beautiful insects, including beetles and butterflies, found in Laos.  Even if bugs gross you out, you can't deny these ones are pretty!

Picture of Lao insect postcard photographed by Xavier Gourmelon 2003
Photo Credit:  Xavier Gourmelon, 2003

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tea Growing in Phongsali

Found some interesting photos from a photographer named Alberto Buzzola documenting the tea harvest and processing in Phongsali, Laos.

Tea leaves are harvested from both 400 years old tall trees to low lying shrub varieties of the common camellia sinensis plant.  Much of this is exported to Yunnan, China for use in pu'erh tea

 Photo Credit:  Alberto Buzzola, 2013

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Brief Look at Lao-German Relations - Lao Deutsch Beziehungen

Laoconnection.com Lao-German Relations image

Ten years ago many visitors to Laos were from Australia, England, and America.  Now, many are German and French.

Here is a brief look and some interesting facts on Lao-German diplomatic relations.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Royal Haw Prabang Temple at Sunset

Click image above to enlarge.

One of the most iconic images and places seen in Luangprabang, Laos, it's the Royal Haw Prabang Temple on the grounds of the National Museum (aka Luangprabang Royal Museum).

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wonderful Real Life Scenes of Laos

A full 1 hour and 44 minutes of video footage of Laos seen through the eyes of a tourist.  There's no narration or music added.  The simplicity of this means you get to hear and see things as though you were there.  Makes it seem more real somehow.

Very fun to watch all the different scenes cut together. The end of the video ends in Thailand but the rest is all taken while in Laos by the videographer.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lao Children are Better Educated Than Thai Kids

Source:  The Nation (Thai Newspaper), September 11, 2014

The startling findings of the latest global report on education place a tough assignment ahead for new minister Narong.

Thailand's poor standing in a recent global survey on the quality of education has caused alarm among educators here and prompted the authorities to respond.

Thailand is ranked 87th in the world in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015 - behind most other member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including less economically developed neighbours such as Laos, which is ranked 60th. This is both embarrassing and unacceptable.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Finding Lost Civilizations - Plain of Jars

Follow along with the creator of the video, Alex Grekus, in his educational series called Finding Lost Civilizations.  In this episode, learn about the mysterious megalithic stone jars in the Plain of Jars of Phonsavan, Laos. 

Part 1 of 3 shown below to get you started...

Video Credit:  StoriesbyAlex on Youtube.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bird's Eye View of Vientiane Along the Mekong

The city of Vientiane has come a long way. Here's a quick video of aerial footage of the city along the Mekong River.
Video Credit:  Lao Pride Channel on Youtube.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Ubiquitous Drink in a Bag

It is very common in Laos to find that when you order drinks (with the exception of alcoholic drinks) from street side shops and vendors that many of them are poured into plastic bags and filled with ice.

Photo Credit:  TastingTravels.com

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Craving Lao Baguette Sandwich

I'm having a dire hankering for kow jee patay.  It's a Lao baguette sandwich filled with all sorts of meats, sauces and veggies.  The baguette itself is made from rice flour (great for those wanting gluten free!).  The closest thing that resembles this is the Vietnamese sub sandwiches which are called banh mi.  Since there's no Lao version of this in my own city, I'll have to check out the Viet places in Chinatown...

Photo Credit:  Asiawheeling.com

P.S.  This is also one of the easiest and best street food items you can find in Laos.  It's cheap, filling and delish!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mekong: The River of Nine Dragons

Wonderful documentary on not just the Mekong River but really a profile on the countries that the river flows through.


The first 16 minutes of the documentary are on Laos.  It begins in northern Laos near the border with China with a look at the ethnic minority group called the Ekor.  It's a fascinating look into their lives and customs. 


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bienvenue à Festival Lao 2014

The Lao community in Quebec spearheaded by Lao Buddhist temple, Wat Thepbandol, organize one of Canada's largest Lao festivals.  One that brings people from not only Quebec but from other parts of Canada and even visitors from America.  This year it was held in July in Sainte-Julienne, Quebec, about an hour north of Montreal.  Here are a couple of videos from LaoTVCanada covering the event.  C'est une bonne fête!



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Flowering Ideas

Lao book review:  Champa - written in LaoLao book review:  Flowers I know - written in Lao



During my December 2013 trip to Laos after having witnessed so many pretty flowers and plants while I traveled, I ended up buying a few books on the topic while I was over there.  Of course this was mostly because I wanted to know the names of the plants I was admiring.  However, along the way, I found books that would provide even more information than just names.

Have a look, may be these will interest you too?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Vientiane Night Out

Just going through some more pictures from last year's trip to Laos.  Found a couple of pictures that I thought I'd share.

Sitting at an outdoor patio at a restaurant in Nampu.  A live band wonderfully performed both in Lao and English.  Enjoying some thirst quenching Beer Lao along with a beautiful backdrop with the fountain all lighted up.  Gorgeous night out!

A Vientiane Night Out photo, Nampu, Vientiane, Laos with Beer Lao

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lao Pork Stew

Lao stews are generally made with beef or chicken, but in this recipe pork is used.  Lao pork stew or aw moo, as we'd say in Lao.  And as you'll see in the video towards the end, she put's crispy pork rinds to top it off.  It looks deelish!

Posted by:  Sao Darly J on Youtube.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Google Street View Does Vientiane

It's amazing the number of Youtube videos that people record and share online of driving through the streets of Laos.  From as mundane as a drive from work to home to a scenic motorbike ride through the country side, all those can be found online.  I often dubbed it Google Street View "Lao Style".

Photo Credit:  Google


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gorgeous Clothing From the Wow World Fashion 2014


Gorgeous Clothing From the Wow World Fashion 2014 
held in Don Chan Palace Hotel, Vientiane, Laos.
Photo Credit:  Xaykhame Photography.  Click link to see more.