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

Tag: holiday (page 2 of 11)

Some Pi Mai Lao Videos

Here are a few video clips from the Pi Mai Lao / Noh’s Birthday Party last Monday, April 14th. If they show up as a colored test-screen, just click on the play button. If they’re not playing, please leave me a comment. Thanks and enjoy.

The first one is a general view of the kind of merriment that was taking place.

Pi Mai Lao Party from Ron Anderson on Vimeo.

More fun with water.

Pi Mai Lao Party from Ron Anderson on Vimeo.

Suwon and Noh (in the tub).

Pi Mai Lao Party from Ron Anderson on Vimeo.

A few passers by get in on the action.

Pi Mai Lao Party from Ron Anderson on Vimeo.

And some more party goers staying out of the water for now.

Pi Mai Lao Party from Ron Anderson on Vimeo.

Sabaidee Pi Mai Lao

Happy Lao New Year! I’m a week late with that greeting, since the week-long celebration started around last Saturday, the 12th, and wrapped up Friday last week. The official holiday was from the 14th through the 16th, but most people managed to stretch it out. As I wrote in a previous post, it’s quite a water-fest, though I stayed dry every day but one. That was last Monday, and I was prepared.

The only other time I went through Pi Mai Lao was in 2006, when I visited while I was on vacation from working in Morocco. I was completely unprepared then. Near the end of the vacation, I departed Laos on the first day of the holiday, heading to Thailand to catch the overnight train from Nong Khai to Bangkok. I had my large backpack and a camera bag. Nai and I took a tuk-tuk to the border crossing, and we got soaked by all the people tossing water at us. We were sitting ducks for target practice. I was furious because my bags were also getting drenched. I hoped that the situation would be better in Nong Khai, but it was worse.

I continued to get soaked, and my appeals for leniency went unheeded. I was madder than a wet hen, and I was nearly in tears, fearing my camera and lenses would get damaged. We finally made it to a guesthouse I had used before and which let me stash my bags for several hours before the train left. Eventually, I caught that train, dried out, and made it to Bangkok.

My flight didn’t leave for a couple of days, so I decided to take another look at the festivities, which are called Songkran in Thailand. Armed with my camera safely sealed in a Ziploc baggie, I sat inconspicuously in a restaurant that had a good view of a major intersection. As I watched everyone firing off their super squirt guns and throwing buckets of water at anyone and everyone, I understood why it was supposed to be a fun time, and I regretted my overreaction earlier. But, I had been prepared in Bangkok.

I was prepared last week, too, my camera, wallet, phone and passport carefully sealed away from the buckets of water that came my way. Monday, Nai and I went to a couple of friends’ house several kilometers from The Farm. Nai has known Suwon and Noh all his life, and I’ve been friends with them since 2005. Monday was Noh’s birthday, so there were two reasons for living it up.

Along the road, people, mainly young adults, teens and children, were armed and ready every few hundred meters to relieve everyone of the heat and the dust. The first brigade, just past Nai’s house, politely asked if they could douse us with a hose. I was surprised they asked, and this turned out to be not unusual. Many parties let us pass the gauntlet untouched. We got moderately wet, but certainly not soaked. The heavy soaking would happen at Suwon’s house.

She and Noh live a few hundred meters off the main dirt road, just past a large, golden-yellow temple. There were about 20 people outside her single story, small cement house. There was plenty of food, including grilled squid and duck, spicy papaya salad, sticky rice, cow blood soup with peanuts and birthday cake, of course. Also, Beer Lao, as always, was plentiful. And lots and lots of water.

We arrived about 1:30 and stayed until around 6, helping Noh celebrate her 41st birthday and the start of the Lao New Year. Everyone got soaked to the bone, most of the adults were more than a bit tipsy, and we all had a great time. Running the gauntlet on the way back to The Farm was inconsequential.

The rest of the week was more boring than not. I think Nai has cornered the market on green onions. He’s been buying crops from the other farmers, so he’s been busy for most of the day, harvesting, cleaning and preparing the product for the market. I’ll do a post on that process a bit later.

There was another party at the family compound on Thursday, with lots of people materializing out of nowhere, it seemed. Again, there was lots of food, drink and merriment for all. Things got back to normal on Saturday, and I’m quite happy to be back at work. Watching people clean green onions all day is quite boring. I can hardly wait for the chili pepper harvest.

Below are some photos from Suwon and Noh’s shindig. They’re in no particular order. I also have some videos of the day, and I’ll try to get them up soon.

Lunar New Year, Numbers

Lunar New Year

It’s going to be a short work week here due to the upcoming Lunar New Year, the big Chinese holiday that is also celebrated in Korea, Viet Nam and a few other Asian countries. The three-day holiday is on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this year, so it’s a mini-vacation of four days, though my classes are from nine to noon everyday; that gives me an extra half day off on Wednesday. The weather forecast is predicting quite a nice week, with temperatures mostly in the fifties and approaching sixty degrees on Saturday. Time to get out and do some walking around.


Meanwhile, I’ve been busy sending out job applications to various institutions here in South Korea and in Malaysia, Viet Nam, Thailand, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and other countries. So far, no luck. My age is the biggest barrier to getting a position. Many countries, apparently, have visa laws that restrict foreigners over a certain age from working in those countries.  Korea has no such law. In Korea, the number four is considered bad luck, but 65 must be even worse. It’s as if the hiring committees see that number and their minds become extremely boggled. They can’t get beyond the number to look at my credentials and experience. That number is the only thing that matters.

Early on in the process, I was offered a face-to-face interview by one university (which shall remain nameless). I went to the interview, did good on it and was offered a contract, which I accepted. I was thoroughly relieved to get a job that easily. The night before the contracts were to be mailed out for signatures, I received an email from the university stating that they were withdrawing the contract offer. It seems that the administration staff had just noticed that my age exceeded their maximum age for hiring new teachers. They’d had my documents for two or three weeks and they just noticed my age? Unbelievable! They must have needed to find an elementary school student to do the math for them.

I had another offer a few weeks ago to do an interview via Skype. I wrote back to the university and gave them my preferred times to do the interview. I never received a confirmation email, so I wrote them an email asking for confirmation. They didn’t respond. I sent another email and they finally wrote back telling me that their “personnel committee” didn’t think that I should get an interview, so they cancelled me. Hmmm, I wonder why they didn’t want me to do the interview. Couldn’t be age related, could it?

So, it’s been thoroughly frustrating trying to find another position, so far. But, all I can do is keep sending out the applications and hope that somewhere a university or academy is interested in quality, rather than in a single number. But, that’s the reality in Korea. If you’re young and handsome, you’ve got a job, even though you have absolutely no experience in teaching English and no degree related to the field. If you hit that “magic” age, though, it doesn’t matter what your credentials are. They usually don’t even get looked at. I’ve talked to foreign teachers who have worked in the hiring process. They told me that the Korean managers first look at the photos and the age, toss out the ones they don’t like and then, and only then, do they look at credentials. So, in many cases, if you’re not young, white and good-looking, you’re probably out of luck.

At times I feel that I’m beating my head against a brick wall and I get discouraged, which I shouldn’t do. I’ll keep cranking out the applications, though, and hope for the best.

Anyway, Happy New Year, everyone, again.

Happy New Year!

Best wishes to everyone for a healthy and prosperous 2014. It’s only 11 hours until midnight in Korea, so we get to start celebrating a bit earlier than most of the rest of the world. Me, old fuddy-duddy that I am (NOT), I’ll get to bed early. New Year’s Eve just doesn’t excite me like it used to. I suppose the bars in Yeosu will be packed with celebrants, and the police will be out in force. In Korea, unlike in the U.S., it’s legal for police to set up checkpoints and randomly pull drivers over without due cause to give them a breath-a-lyzer test. My guess is that it cuts down on drunk driving, but I don’t have any official stats to back that assumption up. In about 30 minutes I’m going to take a walk to E-mart, a national Walmart-like super store, a couple miles from the uni. I’ll keep an eye out for any checkpoints and take some photos if I can.

Again, Happy New Year to all!

Season’s Greetings

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Solstice and . . .

One of my favorite times of the year is here, that time between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. It always brings back great memories of the past, all the way back, of course, to childhood days. Despite the stress of the holidays, I hope everyone has a great holiday season.

Of course, one of the things I don’t care for at this time of year is the winter weather in the northern latitudes; e.g., Korea and Montana. Right now it’s not too bad in Yeosu, with temperatures a bit over 40 degrees F. (6 C.) It’s been getting down to a little below freezing at night, and, of course, we get our usual share of howling winds that contribute to a much colder wind chill temperature.

In a vain attempt to stave off winter, I kept my header summer photos up a bit longer than usual, but you’ll notice that I changed them to the wintry scenes that I usually have up. Those scenes show a lot of snow, something that we don’t get in Yeosu, thankfully.

Anyway, again, Season’s Greetings to everyone. Good health and cheer to all.

Typhoon Danas on the Way

As I posted before, Typhoon Fitow left us alone, but Typhoon Danas (to experience, to feel, which we probably will), formerly Tropical Depression 23, is heading our way. Below is the latest forecast from Weather Underground. It isn’t going to smack right into Yeosu, but we’ll probably get a lot of rain and some wind. It looks like Tuesday will be the day of greatest impact, and I hope it’s out of here by Wednesday, which is Hangul Day (hahn-gool, approximately) in South Korea. What is Hangul Day? It’s National Alphabet Day, believe it or not, commemorating the invention of the Korean alphabet. Pretty cool, eh? The Korean alphabet is extremely easy to learn. I picked it up after only a few days in the country, back in 2003 in Andong. Yup, I could walk along the streets or ride the bus, gazing out the window, and I was able to read almost all of the signs. I could read them, not understand them. Anyway, I hope Wednesday turns out to be a nice one.


A Mini-vacation

Well, it’s that time of year when Korea celebrates its three-day Thanksgiving holiday, Chuseok. The date of the event is tied to the lunar calendar, so the specific date changes every year. This year it begins on Wednesday and runs through Friday. So, with the weekend immediately following, we’re lucky enough to get a break of five days. Unfortunately, we have to make up all the classes at a later date.

The weather forecast is predicting very nice weather for the rest of the week, so I’m looking forward to getting out and about without having to suffer the very high humidity we’ve endured since July. Looks like a good time for bicycle riding and/or hiking. More later.

Happy Lunar New Year

Happy New Year to everyone in Korea, China, Vietnam and elsewhere that the Lunar New Year is celebrated. So, goodbye to the Year of the Dragon and hello to the Year of the Snake. In Korea, this is a 3-day holiday, running today through Monday, so we have a nice, long weekend.

On top of that, after next week we start a two-week vacation. Due to the vagaries of the calendar, the spring semester at the university doesn’t begin until March 4th, so we’ve got an extra week off after the end of our seven-week children and adult classes next week, when usually we only have one week off. I might run up to Seoul for a couple of days during the break, since I need to renew my passport, which expires in June. I can also mail it in to the embassy and have it returned the same way, so if the weather sucks, I might just hang out here in Yeosu.

Anyway, Happy New Year, again. More later.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone. I hope you all have a great year coming up, keeping you healthy, wealthy and wise. Do I have any resolutions? Not really, but I’m going to make an effort to keep this blog more up-to-date. I haven’t been out taking any photos lately because the weather has been just too darned cold and windy. I plan to stay in my apartment tonight and get to bed early, though some of the other teachers are going out later. I have a class tonight until 8 p.m., so I might change my mind between then and now.

I took a bus to go shopping at one of the big supermarkets (Lotte Mart) last week, and the route comes to within a few blocks of the Expo site. From what I could see, there have been no big changes to the area. The International Pavilion building, the Korean Pavilion and other major features were still standing, so that’s good news. I haven’t heard anything yet, though, about what the future plans are for the site. Hopefully, it will be put to good use.

Again, Happy New Year, and best wishes for the future.

Korean Thanksgiving Break

Since Typhoon Sanba, we’ve had some really glorious weather, with mostly clear skies and mild temperatures, though the humidity is still a bit high. These nice days come just in time for the three day Chuseok (chew-sock) holiday, Korea’s Thanksgiving. This year the three days span Sept. 29 through October 1st. In addition, Oct. 3rd is another national holiday, Foundation Day, celebrating the legendary founding of the Korean nation in 2333 b.c.e. Effectively, then, we’ll have about 5 days off, but I do have a couple of classes on Tuesday evening. I have a full schedule tomorrow, but I expect more than a few students will leave campus early to go to their hometowns, trying to avoid the huge amount of traffic that comes with the holiday.

Anyway, the weather is supposed to remain nice, and I hope to take full advantage of the time off. I haven’t been down to the Expo site lately, so I intend to see what changes have taken place in the past few weeks. I also want to try to ride my bicycle out to the petro-chemical complex here in Yeosu. I visited a Buddhist temple out that way this past spring, and the complexity and surreal nature of the pipes and tanks and other infrastructure struck me as being an excellent area for some great photo opportunities. It’s a long ride, but probably worth the effort.

I’ll try to get some more photos of this summer’s Expo posted soon, and I have a back log of some other shots that I also want to get up, so, as always, more later.

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