Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Buddha at Wat Sisaket

Buddha at Wat Sisaket
Originally uploaded by thomaswanhoff

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Burning drugs ceremony in Laos (audio)


Lao National Internet Center opened

Just read this article at LaoVoices:

The National Authority of Post and Telecommunications last Friday opened the Lao National Internet Centre (LNIC).
The establishment of the internet centre is in line with the Prime Minister’s decree No. 375/PM, dated October 22, 2007, which stipulates the organization and operation of the National Authority of Post and Telecommunications. (...)
The centre under the National Authority of Post and Telecommunications, is designed to monitor and control all forms of information operated through telephone and internet systems within, to and from the country.
The new internet centre is equipped with over 100 technical officials.

Not sure what "monitor" and "control" means in this case ....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Level of English in Laos

I am quite surprised about the level of English here in Vientiane. Compared to Saigon, it's a way higher level. Nearly every shop I went has at least one good English speaking staff. I don't know if the many NGO and Backpackers are a reason for this, but I just like it.
But I am also still looking for a Lao teacher.

Guests from Germany

We arrived just a few weeks ago in Laos, but we already have friends from Germany coming to visit us. They are by the way our closest friends and already payed a visit to us in Vietnam. Anyway, we will have a good time during the next days. And we got more Senseo coffee.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Barcamp Vientiane here we go - first Lao Barcamp

Thanks to John Berns and the guys from Meking ICT we managed to have a meeting in Vientiane talking about a Barcamp yesterday. We met at Lao garden, and beside John and me 8 guys (and one girl) from the Lao community showed up. Good news for a possible Barcamp, everyone is excited and interested, Thanks to Instead, we already have a sponsor.

You can follow us on barcampvientiane.org (content will be created in the next days). We are now looking for venues and we have to check government regulations for this kind of events.

Possible date is August or September, we want to check first with our Cambodia friends to avoid any collision with the Barcamp Phnom Penh 3.

Stay tuned for more info.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Geeks on train - join us

Some people - in particular @3105, Jan and me - are tinking about having Geeks on a train in the next weeks or months. Some more information is on 3105.com.

The basic idea is to book a coach from BKK to Vientiane in Laos (or at least to Nong Khai). We set up our own network there and then lets hack or what ever.

If you like the idea, send commenst, emails or tweet. Hastag is #geeksontrain.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Baci Ceremony in Laos

When my wife Nataly started her new job, a baci ceremony was held. It's one of the most important ceremonies in the life of Lao people, I learned. It celebrates any transition, like a new job, a mother giving birth, a new business. There are some rules, and of course they differ from where it's held. In our case in Vientiane, the village chief or eldest will celebrate it. In the middle of all is the Pha Kwan. It's an arrangement made of a silver bowl containing banana leaves, flowers, eggs. White cotton threads are cut at the length long enough to wrap around the adult wrists. These are attached to a bamboo stalk and give the impression of a banner.
The fruits are for the Khwan. Kwan are components of the soul, but have a more abstract meaning than this. The kwan have been variously described by Westerners as: “vital forces, giving harmony and balance to the body.
Preparing for the ceremony is the first steps, others are following, like youngers paying respect to the older ones, touching the Pha Kwan. In our case Nataly and Esther had to hold the white threat, a flower and also a bowl containing eggs and sweet cake. During the ceremony the village eldest is chanting. When he speak to you you have to hold one hand at the ear, as you try to understand him better. I guess its a sign that you actually listen. Later everybody is touching people next to him or her, then holding the cotton threads again. At the end, we received white and orange collar threads on our armwrists. In Laos, white is the color of peace, good fortune, honesty and warmth. The white cotton thread is a lasting symbol of continuity and brotherhood in the community and permanence. The baci threads should be worn for at least three days subsequently and should be untied rather than cut off. Usually it is preferred that they are kept until they fall off by themselves.

More about the ceremony here

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Group for Expats and people living and working in Vientiane Laos

It was (and is) successful in Vietnam, so I decided to start a Yahoo Group for Expats and people living and/or working in Vientiane, Laos. Anyone can join, just go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vientianeneighbors/ and Join the group. It's free, of course.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

workplace 3.0

workplace 3.0
Originally uploaded by thomaswanhoff
What I like so much in Laos is the sense for beautiful decoration and set up. Its a perfect mix between colonial style and traditional furniture, colors and patterns. and yes, it"s banana from my tree and the picture is made in my living room :-)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

my new car. a 1973 renault r4

its old simple and sooooo cute

breakfast and al jazeera on my ipad

Connection is not too bad to watch sometime Al Jazeera via internet on my iPad

What a service

Ok, it's only a week since I arrived in Laos, but I am surprised about the service here. You feel welcomed at the airport, immigration officers are smiling and helping you, there is a easy-to-understand-system with numbers for any step. When we went dining in town, the waitresses were not only dressed properly (for a waitress I mean), but also very attentive, with paying attention to every single detail. They ask you for more, but not every minute. They take your empty plate when you are finished, but not at the same moment you put the last bean in your mouth. They speak english.
The common dress is a so called sinh skirt, and its worn by many women, and it looks just great. It seems that I just like the culture and people of Laos so far.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My first bananas

My first bananas
Originally uploaded by thomaswanhoff
We have some banana trees in the garden.. just have to wait until they turn more yellow

Breakfast at home

breakfast at home
Originally uploaded by thomaswanhoff
We moved in, but still wait for our stuff from Saigon..