Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Namaste in Bed

Ever since I arrived to live in Thailand, I've been in and out of Bangkok like a yo-yo. A combination of accompanying my husband on his business trips and a holiday to Laos has seen me amassing Airmiles like nobody's business. I'm pretty sure I'll soon have enough frequent flyer points to get me to the moon and back, possibly in a private spaceship. 

Arriving back in Bangkok last week the weather was it's usually steamy, sultry self. I find it hard to believe that our Thai summer is now officially over and hooray for this as I'm definitely not my best in these conditions. Five minutes of waiting outside for the car to arrive and I'm a puddle of a mess. Humidity is not my friend. Surprisingly Hong Kong was far less humid and all I can say is bring on the Bangkok rains which are supposed to lower the temperature... Oh, and my upcoming trip to the UK. This should sort out my desire for some cool reprieve. Bring it on.

Despite the 'oh no, I'm back in this heat', it was good to be home. Stepping back in our own apartment, I was greeted by some very exciting post from America, Canada and Australia. It was doubly exciting as I had never received any overseas mail!  


A little while ago I had participated in the Stephanie's Tea Cup and Mug Exchange and Andrea from My Everything Corner was kindly up for the challenge of sending a parcel into Thailand. Bless her, this was no easy task as Thailand post has many prohibited items, including tea! Wow, I was so impressed that Andrea's coordinated efforts of both the Canadian and Thailand Post Offices had resulted in one pristine parcel waiting for my attention.

It was like Christmas opening the beautiful package, starting with the beautiful hand written note and delving deep into the layer-upon-layer of turquoise tissue paper to find the treasures below. Oh gosh Andrea, your generosity was so touching. 

First of all, there was a pretty box containing a porcelain mug, with the words 'Namaste in Bed Today.' Isn't it gorgeous and perfect for my new life where I am trying to become Zen Wren? In fact, a 'stay in bed day' would be perfect! 


I wish you could smell the amazing scent that was everywhere as I'm rummaging through the box,  the next opening was what Andrea describes as her favourite soap, the rosewater aroma fills the room.

I open a long, thin box containing pretty pink beaded silver necklace, which I later find out Andrea has made herself! How special is that? The thought of all the effort that Andrea has gone to, sending a perfect stranger this present on the other side of the world leaves me feeling pretty amazed. There is a matching smaller box with a cute silver leaf broach. 

Everything I open is a 'wow, look at that!' moment. This was my first participation in Stephanie's Tea Cup and Mug Exchange and I had no idea what to expect. You can check out what I had sent to Lily in Malaysia, and the other exchanges here

Thank you, Andrea, for your kindness and also a massive thank you to Stephanie, who careful plans this event. You are both some amazing women and I feel very grateful that the blogging world has brought us together in this way.

Namaste!

Linking with thanks to all at Our World Tuesday
and Maggie at Mosaic Monday 



Monday, 8 May 2017

Alms Giving - Luang Prabang, Laos




As it's Sunday, I thought I would share photos from the 

Buddhist alms giving ceremony that we participated in this week in the 

UNESCO World heritage city of Luang Prabang.




Laos is an amazing holiday destination and we frequently asked ourselves
why it has taken us so long to get here? 


1. Laos is Authentic: it's real, it's raw. It's is one of the world's least developed countries where you appreciate the simple pleasures, whether it is a stunning landscape or walking through streets and villages where time seems to have stopped still.

We were invited to take part in the alms giving ceremony by our hotel the Sofitel in Luang Prabang, who every day at dawn provides food for the monks outside their sister hotel the 3 Nagas.

Having witnessed the schmozzle of badly behaved tourists at Mandalay in Myanmar last year, I was a bit nervous about the cultural appropriateness of this. This had degenerated into a weird push and shove and some very unspiritual words being exchanged.

Luang Prabang was very different possibly because we are in low season and tourist numbers are low. But it felt genuine.

We got up at 5 am to hand out hot steamy, sticky rice to around 200 monks. The hotel briefs us about what to expect, how to behave and help us dress in a silk sash, the women and men wearing them on opposite sides. Custom dictates that women must be appropriately and respectfully dressed, must kneel and must not make eye contact with the monks. 

A quick peek at the saffron robes however and you can't help but notice how young some monks were. Speaking to our various tour Lao tour guides they all credit their excellent English to their studies during time spent at the Monasteries.

Our 3 Nagas hotel provided the rice for our offering, they have one of the best restaurants in town. The monks seemed appreciative of the culinary excellence and rice donation. It felt very special to take part in this colourful ceremony.

2. Laos felt undiscovered. Where is everyone? Granted we were there in low season, it's stinking hot, too hot and humid to even sit by a swimming pool some days. But it's a long time since we've had the pleasure to have a country virtually to ourselves. We've hardly seen other tourists and we've enjoyed private dining in some restaurants. We felt quite the intrepid explorers!

3. Laos is unspoilt: We did not have people hassling us to buy things or trying to rip us off by overcharging us for a taxi or tuk-tuks. You travel on bumpy roads and in shaky boats along the Mekong. You can stop at a roadside market and see no end of weird and not so wonderful things for sale. We spotted a dead squirrel wrapped in a banana leaf, and a deep-fried mother mongoose and her pups flattened on skewers. It's confronting, yet it's a life that has not been sanitised for the tourists.

4. Lao people are warm, kind and slightly shy people who seem genuinely pleased to see you. One of the best bits has been talking with the locals. Those whose English is good, all have a story to tell. In a communist country with rudimentary education, they speak warmly of their sponsors and benefactors who have donated either their time or money to provide an education. 

5. Lao offers a diversity of landscapes, people and wildlife. We have enjoyed the temples, the mountains, tubing and kayaking on the rivers, caving and finding many Buddha's hidden deep in the earth away. We have hiked up hills and biked to Blue lagoons, or cruising on the Mekong. We have seen water buffalo, and elephants bathing, kids brushing their teeth in murky waters, we've braked for cows on roads and been greeted by village kids, dogs, goats, chickens and piglets as we've hiked into remote villages. We have witnessed extreme poverty and seen opulence and eaten at wonderful restaurants.

There is something for everyone in Laos and everyone loves Laos!

Linking with thanks to Darren at Photalife
and Tricky and Carly at FAST for Five On Friday - thanks for hosting!