Monday, November 28, 2011

Going to Laos: 5 Days to Go

The countdown continues to my departure for Laos. Now only 5 days remain.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

This Time Next Week...

Terminal at Kennedy International Airport
It is now only one week until I depart for Laos. This time next week I will have just completed the first leg of my trip there. I will be at Kennedy International Airport in New York City waiting for my next flight, a Korean Airlines aircraft bound for Seoul, South Korea. Of all the times that I will be spending in the air, this one will be the longest at 14.5 hours.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Going to Laos: 10 Days to Go

The countdown continues to my departure for Laos. Now only 10 days remain.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Another Thank You Email

A couple of hours after receiving that thank you email for Andrew Reyes' donation, another email arrived from Steve Rutledge in which he thanked my friends, Gary Kraft and Dennis McKibbon, for their water filter donation. These three people were among many with whom I spoke earlier this year in my efforts to raise awareness for Adopt a Village in Laos and the important work that this humanitarian organization is doing in Laos.

Since Steve didn't have an email address for Gary and Dennis, he attached the photo of the receiving family to that email. I have taken it upon myself to have this image printed and framed. Then, I will personally present it to them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Email to Andrew

This evening I received an email from Steve Rutledge in which he thanked my friend, Andrew Reyes, for his water filter donation. Photos of the receiving families were attached.
Hi Andrew, 
I hope all is well with you these days.  In Luang Prabang the cool season has arrived and although still warm during the day, the villages are quite cool at night (low of about 12 degrees).  It may not seem like much for us but without heat and with a breeze in the air, it is quite cool. 
We are pleased that we are able to attach pictures of the two families you purchased a water filter for. You will note that one of the families is very young - I think his wife was preparing Bacci for us.  The other picture of the mother and child were without the father for the picture because he was in the fields harvesting their rice - it was a bumper crop this year too. 
Internet has been very slow these days and the uploads are taking forever so I will do my best. 
Anyway please take care and enjoy the pictures.  You have done a lot for these families!!! 


Friday, November 18, 2011

Going to Laos: 15 Days to Go

The countdown continues to my departure for Laos. Now only 15 days remain.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dress Warmly

Yesterday I received an email from Steve Rutledge updating me about the weather conditions in Laos.
The cool season is pretty much upon us.  Suggest that you bring a warm jacket and a couple of pullovers or sweaters.  During the day it generally goes up to 24-27 but at night it drops down to about 14 degrees - this is in Luang Prabang.  In the villages it is about 4-5 degrees cooler and the temperature will drop at nights to about 4-5 celsius there in December or January. 

If we are lucky though, it won't get quite that cool in the villages but you should be prepared just in case.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


On Sunday, November 13, my new acquaintance, Jim Calcutt, posted a short and eloquent entry on his blog, World Ripples. Simply titled Selfless, it tells of my commitment to helping the people of Laos.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Going to Laos: 20 Days to Go

The countdown continues to my departure for Laos. Now only 20 days remain.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

World Heritage Sites

While taking a break at work (The Computer Shop, University of Toronto) this afternoon, I took a little time to wander through the bookstore section next door. It didn't take long before one of the books leaped off the shelf.

Published by FireFly Books, World Heritage Sites: A Complete Guide To 890 UNESCO World Heritage Sites is an 840-page book covering places from around the planet which are recognized and protected by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) because of their cultural or natural importance. Complimenting this voluminous work, this book is richly illustrated with more than 850 maps and 850 colour photographs. Among the sites listed is the Rideau Canal, which is situated in my home province of Ontario, and the town of Luang Prabang in Laos.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Canadian Hats

While rummaging through my closet this morning, I encountered a stack of seldom worn baseball-style caps. Among the hats I discovered a couple of them with the word Canada and the maple leaf emblazened upon them. I have since added them to my luggage and will wear them when I am in Laos.

Meal Replacement Bars

Since I may not be eating as regularly as I should while venturing through the rural regions of Laos, one of the few remaining items which I still needed for my trip was some sort of nutritious bar. Yesterday, one of my friends took me to a store he normally visits to see what we could find.

As I was perusing the bars, I had to keep in mind one of the things that Steve Rutledge had noted in his list - don't bring anything that contains chocolate. Basically, chocolate doesn't travel well and will simply melt. Most of the bars I encountered contained chocolate in some form, either incorporated into or coating the bar itself.

Eventually, I did find a couple of bars which didn't contain chocolate and decided to take both kinds for variety. One bar was basically a mix of different berries and the other was a mix of oatmeal and peanut butter. Yum!

I purchased enough bars to last me for about three weeks.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lao Language Guide for iPhone

While doing some online research on the Lao language yesterday, I encountered an iPhone app which teaches you some basic words and phrases. You not only see the translations for commonly used words and phrases, but you can also hear how each word and phrase is spoken.

After downloading and installing the software on my iPhone, I tried it out last night before going to bed. In a word, brilliant!

Going to Laos: 25 Days to Go

The countdown continues to my departure for Laos. Now only 25 days remain.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Learning Some Basic Lao

In this video we learn some basics, specifically how to say hello, good-bye, and how to count.

The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)

Yesterday afternoon I finally sat down to view the DVD which my friend, Bev Korasack, had given to me the Sunday before. As I watched, I could feel my emotions rising and falling like the waves on an ocean.
Filmed over the course of 23 years, THE BETRAYAL (NERAKHOON), is an astonishing tale of perseverance - one family's struggle to survive their journey from war-torn Laos to the streets of New York. Eloquent yet devastating, renowned cinematographer Ellen Kuras' directorial debut is a remarkable collaboration with co-director Thavisouk Phrasavath - a documentary that reveals the hidden, human face of war's "collateral damage".

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Weather in Laos Added

Today I added a link to the sidebar of my blog where you can get up-to-the-minute information about the weather in Laos.

Khaen Lao (Lao mouth organ)

While chatting with Bev Korasack on Facebook today, she told me that on Sunday morning she would be bringing in a traditional Lao musical instrument called a khaen to the radio station and demonstrating it on the air.

In the video above, we get a lesson about how to play this instrument.

Remnants of a Secret War

View excerpt from this book

Through my wanderings on the Web one day, I encountered this book about Laos and the Hmong. I was most intrigued and have added it to my wish list. Hopefully, I will have this book in my hands before I leave so that I can go through it on my way to Laos.

To provide you with a glimpse of what this book is about, read the overview below.
The story of the Hmong people in Laos is a story of survival. Recruited first by the French, and then by the Americans, to be the front line of defense against the North Vietnamese army, their territory became a fierce battleground of the Viet Nam War. The United States’ covert bombing campaign from 1964 to 1973 gave Laos the distinction of being the most bombed country in the history of warfare. Photojournalist Mike Greenlar made 10 trips to Laos between 2000 and 2009 to document the lives the Hmong were fashioning in two resettlement villages. There they continue to farm land rife with unexploded cluster bombs and other munitions.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Going to Laos: 30 Days to Go

The countdown continues to my departure for Laos. Now only 30 days remain.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

SNAP Downtown Toronto - Adopt a Village in Laos

SNAP Downtown Toronto - Adopt a Village in Laos

Around mid-afternoon today I received an email notification from SNAP DOWNTOWN TORONTO to inform me that the Chapters Indigo event, which was covered by SNAP on September 24, had just been published on their web site.

While the event was a far cry from the event at the Capitol Theatre in Port Hope the Saturday before, it was still a wonderful opportunity for Steve Rutledge, Mike Yap, and myself to meet one of the other members of the Sieng Lao Radio team, Khamkeut Keovongsa.