I received a phone call from my cousin yesterday morning, it was a pleasant surprise, all the way from Paksan, Laos. I mailed my Aunt some pictures and my cousin called to tell me that her mom received the package. This was the second time that I sent her pictures, the postage costs around $30 and it takes about 2-3 weeks to get there. This time I sent her a photo album so it’s a bit more heavier than the last time, but I think it’s well worth it since my dad can write the description of the photos. She asked me when will I visit again? I wish I could, but it doesn’t look like anytime soon, I do miss Laos already.
When I visited them last year, I was hoping to see their rice paddy. I read about the flood in Vientiane back in August of last year, but didn’t know if it also flooded Paksan or not. As you can see the two colors river where Nam Xan and Mekong River meet, my Aunt‘s rice paddy is right next to Nam Xan, the clear water side.
My Aunt leases part of her farm to her neighbor, this section was leased out, and their rice paddy survived the flood.
Sadly my Aunt’s rice paddy was flooded, no rice plant in sight.
This is the first picture that I took when I was in Laos on November 8, 2008. I stayed at my Aunt’s house in Paksan, and these construction workers are Vietnamese, they were doing some road construction on Road 13, main road that cuts through Laos, and it is paid for by the Vietnamese government. I believed it would look very much like the road in Vientiane after it’s finished.
Here is the area that had been completed. These workers were out there from dawn to dust, and worked 7 days per week, but they can’t speak a word of Lao language, or Pasa Lao, and if some of them do, then it’s very little.
One thing that I noticed and liked is the potted garden in Laos. Many stores have a little pot of some sort sitting in front of their store. I’m thinking about incorporating this into my garden as well, and I would pot all my tropical plants that I have, that way I can bring them inside when it gets cold, and for start, the Broad-leafed Epiphyllum, also known as Queen of the Night that my younger sister gave me.
I just hope that I won’t forget to water, and it ended up looking like this…
Most people celebrate January 1st as the New Year’s Day, the first day of the year. It is considered by many as a new day and a new beginning, but come to think about it, every day is a new day and can be a new beginning. I think New Year allows people to start a new beginning assuming that you did something bad the year before, this will allow you to start fresh, but really, you don’t need a new year to do this, you can do this any time of the year. As for most people, anything new might be a good thing, such as a new year, or new items, but I think the most valuable things are the old things, the things that we have, look at antique for example, worth a lot more than the new items, I believed the key is to learn to appreciate the things that we already have.
On New Year’s Eve, some Lao and Thai people lit incense sticks to chase away bad spirits or things that happened during the year, and to welcoming the new beginning as they wish for a better coming new year. Some people blame on the animals from the Chinese animal sign of the year (as for me, I’m not blaming but I do have to say that last year was real bad for me) as last year was the year of the Rat (mouse) and that it was a bad (or good) rat and hoping that this year, the year of the Ox will be better for everyone.
But I often wondered about this, I think the ancient people gave the year animal signs (12 animal signs, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Lamb, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig that repeat every 12 years) so that they’d know which year you were born, easy way to remember and has nothing to do with the animals, so don’t blame on the Ox (cow or water buffalo) if you have a bad year.
For some of us, Alms giving on January 1st is a tradition that has passed down for generations and it’s a tradition amongst the Buddhist community whether you’re Laotian, Thai or Khmer (for those that were able to get up early enough that is, as for some might have been out partying all night.) I didn’t bring my camera yesterday, and the above photo was from last year, the Buddhist Temple that we visited on New Year’s Day is known as a Khmer temple (Buddhist Center) but the head monk speaks Lao, Thai, and Khmer and the Buddhist worshipers that were there yesterday are Laotians, Thais, and Khmers, a lot more turnout than last year, kind of surprised me since the economy continues its downward spiral, but I think people turn to the temple for emotional and moral support, and they want to start their New Year with merits making and hope for a blessing year.
As for the year of the Ox, it will not officially be recognized until January 26, 2009, the official New Year’s Day for Chinese people, which marks the beginning of Chinese New Year. New Year is one day when the celebration of New Year brings joy and prosperity for all.
Below are photos of Alms giving at Wat Mixay, a temple in Paksan Laos that I attended the event on November 12, 2008. In Laos, normally the monks would go out for their morning alms collection, but on Wan Sin (Buddhist holiday, this day happens to fall on 15 com) the locals would go to the temple for their morning Alms giving, and it starts at 7 AM.