Laos Adventures: Episode 3 Awk Phansa Lanterns

Making traditional lanterns while anticipating the beloved light festival to celebrate the end of Buddhist lent. Watch this easy to follow video and learn how to make your very own lantern!

Click here to watch.

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Laos Adventures is a series of short videos documenting my time and experiences in and around Luang Prabang.

Laos Adventures: Episode 2c ‘Steaming success’

It’s a little late but here is grand finale, the final steps in the rice noodle making process. After all the slapping, pounding, kneading watch it all come together to form slightly chewy…slightly tangy fermented rice noodles.

Click here to view ‘Steaming Success”.

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Laos Adventures: Episode 2b ‘Pound & Grind’

Insert manual labour here!

This week we explore the next two steps in the rice noodle making process. Who knew that making noodles was a potentially dangerous activity that requires patience, muscles and above all else… RHYTHM?!

Click the image below to watch ‘Pound & Grind’ !

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Laos Adventures is a series of short videos documenting my time and experiences in and around Luang Prabang.

Sunrise over Bagan

Starting on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River and spanning over 40 square miles, Bagan has 2,270 Buddhist temples that have survived since the 11th century. It’s mood changes with each sunrise, from dusky pinks to gloomy grays. These were my sunrises in Bagan. (click the image below)

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Snapshots: Ethiopia

I have, for the umpteenth time, committed the worse mistake a traveling blogger can make. That is to delay writing about a trip for so long that articulating what made it so awesome seems impossible. So many things have gone on in my life since my trip to Ethiopia that I can no longer do it justice. Pictures do however speak volumes all by themselves. So here you have it: the blue Nile, wild hippos, island monasteries, a rich religious culture, castles and rural life.

Lake Tana

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Semien Mountains

Simiens

 

Addis Ababa

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Was lucky to be in Addis for the Meskel festival! Meskel is an annual Ethiopian Orthodox holiday to commemorate the discovery of the True Cross by Queen Helena in the 4th Century.

Smiling faces swaddled in pristine white fabric, wild yellow mountain flowers named after the holiday itself, elegantly dressed clergy men and a bonfire attended by thousands and thousands of singing people.

 

 

My Cup Runneth Over (Addis Ababa)

As we stepped out of the airplane onto the surprisingly cool morning air of Addis Ababa I couldn’t help but remember the excitement and fear I felt when I first set foot in Ghana. Now over seven years ago it really was the trip that changed my life. Who would have guessed that the first whiff of dusty tarmac would bring back such fond memories?

Shuffling out of the arrivals lounge with our big rucksacks we were the center of attention. As taxi drivers tried to lure us in with their smiles and promises of cheap fares, we made our way to a small cluster of cafes just beyond the security wall. The smell of frankincense wafted through the air as the locals sat drinking dark pungent liquid from small patterned cups. Coffee in Ethiopia is a way of life. Each cup they poured overflowed. And so pinching the small ceramic cup as gently as I could, trying to avoid burnt fingers, I took my first sip.

Under a shabby umbrella 4 cheap plastic stools down from our table was a woman delicately perched on an old wooden bench. She sat behind a small table carefully arranging coffee cups. Under her table lay long green stalks of grass. Their color added some excitement to the otherwise bland gray and brown surroundings. After she arranged the cups on their tray she attended to the incense burner, adding a few more pieces of frankincense and places the incense on the tray. Only then did she turn her attention to the hot coals near her feet. On them rested a black ceramic coffee pot with long thin neck. With the coffee pot in one hand and the tray balanced on the other she walked to a nearby table. Hovering over her solo male customer she offered a sunny greeting, “Salamno” (Hello) “Danana” (How are you?). “Dananing” the young man answered, clearly feeling good that day. A cloud of pungent smoke surrounded his head as she carefully sets a cup down and poured. “Amissekinalo” (Thank you) he muttered as she walked back to her perch.

Our first day in Addis was fairly uneventful. It is a rapidly growing city, with the heart of the African Union and a brand new train system (which opened the day we arrived). Having said that I didn’t find the city itself all that exciting. The highlight of the day was visiting a church during evening prayers and listening to the Christian call to prayer ring out from the domed building. Watching the worshipers outside kneel and kiss the building as they bowed their heads and crossed their chests. Ethiopians are an intensely religious people. After all, Axum in the north east of the country is said to be the home of the Arc of the Covenant. As women entered the church ground they waddled themselves in lightly woven white cloth, made orange by the warm light of the setting sun. It was hard not to feel at peace in such a beautifully tranquil surrounding. Such a contrast to the bustling world of street venders, beggars and vehicles that lay just outside the gates.

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50 Shades of Green

If someone had asked me what Asia looked like 2 years ago I would have described a stereotypical image of small wooden villages, conical hats and endless fields of green. Imagine my delight when, just a few minutes outside of Mai Chau proper, I saw a small community that ticked all three of those boxes.

It was harvest time and everyone was knee deep in mud and up to their necks in rice. I watched them work, and for once they were too busy to really worry about me much. The women seemed to gossip amongst themselves as they cut the shoots in half and tied them together in palm sized bunches. A man wondered between the uneven plots swooping up grasshoppers in a large net. Besides the chatter of workers I heard only the far away moan of some kind of farm machinary. Everyone seems content, working hard from 5 in the morning to 11, taking a few hours for lunch and resuming as the sun dipped towards the mountains.

So many shades of green, for as far as the eye could see. Dark muddy green where the rice had been harvested and the stalks were left to bake in the sun. Light pistachio ice cream green where there was work still to be done.