MontanaRon

An English teacher's blog about his travels and his digital art.

Month: December 2011

Happy Holidays

To all my readers, friends, colleagues and family–may you have a very enjoyable holiday season and a prosperous and happy New Year.

I’m in Nongkhai, Thailand at the moment and I’ll be heading over the border into Laos tomorrow, Christmas Day. Even though Thailand and Laos are Buddhist countries, many of their people celebrate Christmas as a holiday, not a religious event. Nai and I went to Tesco-Lotus (a department store/mall) today and the place was packed with shoppers. Of course, it’s Saturday, but it still seemed like a lot more people were out today than on a normal weekend. Perhaps the Spirit of Christmas is not recognized here, but the Spirit of Consumerism is alive and well.

Like I said, I’m going into Laos tomorrow and I’ll spend several days with Nai and his family, celebrating the holidays. Folks there will be eating and drinking and entertaining friends. We’ll be chowing down on those large Mekong fish that are so delicious and I’m sure the Beer Lao will be flowing all over the country.

The weather has been great, with daytime temperatures in the high seventies (25 C.) and cool nights, around 55 or so (13 C.), I would guess, and plenty of sunshine. I’m not looking forward to going back to chilly, windy Yeosu in a few weeks.

I’ve got some photos to post, but I want to edit them first and, unfortunately, I don’t have any photo editing software on this particular computer. I’ll try to get some of them up before returning to Yeosu, but if I don’t, I’ll get them up as soon as I do return.

Again, Happy Holidays to all.

Off to Thailand and Laos

I’m leaving in a few hours to spend a couple of weeks in the relative warmth of Bangkok and Vientiane, though my friend Nai occasionally complains of the nighttime cold. To the folks in Laos, 60 F. is cold, but I think I’ll like it.

I’ll try to post some updates while I’m away, maybe a few photos. At any rate, to all my family and friends and other readers, have a Great Holiday Season–Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Vacation Time

It’s the end of the fall semester, so, as usual, I’ve been busy with final assessments, grading, paperwork, meetings and other duties. But soon, however, I’ll be vacationing in Laos (mainly) to visit with my friend Nai and his family. Korea’s weather is starting to turn wintry cold, so spending some time in a more tropical clime is very appealing, of course.

I’m not going for a long time–just a bit more than a few weeks. My Air China flight to Bangkok leaves next Monday around noon, and I’ll be back in Yeosu on January 5th. I got a pretty good price on the flight about a month and a half ago, but that price came with some long layover times in Beijing, five or so hours going and more than seven hours coming back. Going to Bangkok will be the worst leg of the trip. I’ll be leaving Yeosu on the 11 p.m. bus to Incheon Airport, which arrives around 4:30 in the morning. Since my flight doesn’t take off until around noon, I’ll have a long wait. Incheon, however, is one of the top rated airports in the world, so I don’t mind hanging around there for that amount of time. Then, I go to Beijing and have a wait of about 5 hours until I go to Bangkok. I don’t arrive in the “City of Angels” until around midnight. From there, I’ll take a taxi to my hotel, probably not getting to sleep until 2 a.m. A long day, indeed.

After goofing around in Bangkok for an all-too-short while, I’ll take the overnight train to Nongkhai on the evening of the 21st, arriving there the next day around 8:30 in the morning. I’ll spend a few days in Nongkhai with Nai, then we’ll cross the Friendship Bridge into Laos, and . . . hmmm, not really sure. We might head up to Vang Vieng or Luang Prabang, or we might decide to stay at his family residence for Christmas and New Year. Christmas in a Buddhist, Communist country–an interesting place to spend the holidays, to say the least.

Finally, after whatever adventures and strange situations that occur in Laos, I’ll take the train back to Bangkok and take a flight back to Incheon on the 4th of January, including another long layover in Beijing. Such is the cost of cheap airline tickets.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep you posted about the trip, so stay tuned for more later.

Lunar Eclipse

Yes, I stayed up late last Saturday to try to take a few photos of the lunar eclipse. It was spectacular here, the moon high in a mostly clear sky and sporting a deep rust-red color, which made taking photos a bit difficult. I walked down to where I usually go running, the soccer field by the gym, which has a wide-open view of the sky.

I use Canon Image Stabilizer (IS) lenses on the camera. IS lenses are supposed to reduce blur when you’re hand-holding the camera in low-light and other situations, but I’d read that you shouldn’t use the IS function when using your camera on a tripod, because the lens will look for camera shake when there isn’t any. Using it with a tripod, then, will add some blur to your photos. Well, I thought that I’d turned off the IS, but when I got back to my apartment, I noticed that it was turned on. Sure enough, all the shots were a bit on the blurry side. Lesson learned–double check all settings, especially if you’re going to be out shooting in the dark.

Anyway, here are a couple of shots. The first one is of the pre-eclipse moon, which I was able to shoot from my apartment, and the second is of the moon during totality, around 11:30 p.m. local time on Saturday. The only post-processing I did in Photoshop was to sharpen both images a bit. The color of the moon in the second one is as I shot it. Click on either image to get a larger view.

Another astronomical event is occurring tonight. The Geminid meteor shower will best be seen between 10 p.m. local time and sunrise tomorrow morning. This annual shower has been picking up steam in recent years, and, despite the presence of an almost-full moon, some of its fireballs, characteristic of the shower, could be seen. Give it a try. Me? I’m feeling a bit lazy, but I might try to watch it from my apartment, though I have a very limited view of the sky. More later.

Expo 2012 November Construction Part 3

Here are a few final shots from my walkabout last weekend at the Expo site. Enjoy.

This is the “backside” of the International Pavilion area, facing the train station.

And another shot of the same area.

It appears that most of the outside work is finished on the apartment buildings of Expo Town.

And a couple of shots of the hotel, where more of the exterior covering is being put on.

Here’s a site that I hadn’t taken a shot of until last weekend. It’s the Fisheries Experience Zone. It’s the blue pylons down the breakwater near Odong Island.

Finally, here’s a general overview of the site. If you click on it a couple of times, you’ll get a very large photo of the area to browse. Might take a while to load.

I’ll be on vacation in Thailand and Laos soon and I won’t return until the first week in January, so I won’t be taking any more strolls around the area until then. More later.

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