Sunday, March 31, 2013

March Photo-A-Day

I am excited to share the photos I have taken as part of the March FMS Photo-A-Day project. This time I have included the list of daily prompts so you can see what the topic for each day was. Whenever possible I upload my photo each day to the Facebook group which has 6000 members and growing rapidly. Anyone is welcome to join at anytime - it is a lovely way to add a bit of creativity to each day.

What has been amazing and so wonderful is that in posting my photos each day I have started to get to know some of the other amateur photographers, and in particular some people have taken an interest in the images I have that show our fairly unique life here in Bhutan. The photos give me a great opportunity to put Bhutan on the map and some followers have mentioned they are developing a real interest to visit after seeing the photos.

The most positive thing to come of all of this is that quite a few members have decided to send parcels of books and other items over to me at the school to enhance the learning opportunities for students. It all began when I posted  the photo for 'Something beginning with L' - Library - and some wondered if there was a way they could send books for the library. In a month that has swelled to the point where a large number of photo-a-day members are planning to send parcels on April the 5th - which just happens to be the day where our photo prompt is 'Something good' - definitely a photo opportunity there!

Enjoy - and again - let me know which is your favourite!

March 1st: L is for - Library
The beautiful primary school library developed by last year's volunteer teacher.

March 2nd - I made this!
I call it a kitchen miracle when I make something like a pizza with local ingredients and my limited kitchenware and appliances.

 March 3rd - Key
Its not so much the key, but the rustic door and latch of my classroom that is so lovely.

March 4th - Lucky
In the middle of winter here in Bhutan, we were lucky to find bananas in the shop today as a treat for lunch.

March 5th - Under
Standing under a pine tree next to our house.

March 6th - Chair
The chair at my desk in the classroom has definitely seen better days!

March 7th - Fear
I fear these large trucks that teeter around the corners on Bhutanese mountain roads. But I also love the way they are all uniquely decorated.

March 8th - Favourite
Nothing like starting the day with a cup of Earl Grey.

 March 9th - Face-less self portrait
Walking down the street in the late afternoon I noticed my lovely long-legged shadow!

March 10th - I want
I want a hot shower!!! Amazingly enough an opportunity came from nowhere on this day to go to a nearby resort for dinner. When they realised we hadn't had any water for days they let us have a hot shower before dinner!

March 11th - Important
After three days without running water it became very clear how important this 'luxury' is.

March 12th - In the distance
Far away on top of the distant hill is a little temple (which we eventually walked to on
International Happiness Day - see March 20th).

March 13th - Sound
Xavier is spinning the prayer wheel at school which makes a bell sound for every rotation.

 March 14th - Tasty
A lovely treat for dessert- papaya and pomegranate.

March 15th - Explore
As teacher on duty I had to be present at school from 6.30am til 6 pm. I got to explore the kitchen and dining area where the boarders eat.

March 16th - 9 0'Clock
At 9am on Saturday morning I was teaching 'Rainbow Facts' in maths.

March 17th - Green
The view out our kitchen window is of an evergreen pine forest.

March 18th - Shoes
Due to overnight snow, I wore my trekking boots with my kira to school - perfect for slushy puddles even if they make a strange combination!

March 19th - Sign
The sign out the front of school asks all visitors to wear Bhutanese national dress.

March 20th - Clean
We had a public holiday for International Happiness Day and went for a walk to the little temple of the hill. The air was clean and scented with fresh pine.

March 21st - Work
The students do SUPW - Socially Useful Productive Work everyday - here they are planting a large crop of potatoes and other vegetables

March 22nd - I am
I am vegetarian!

March 23rd - What you do for fun
I made a batch of 24 Honey Joys and they were gobbled up in 15 minutes flat!!!

March 24th - Up
We went up and over the Kiki-La pass at 2980m - the view of the himalayas reminded us we are really up on top of the world.

March 25th - In your drawer
Without a single drawer in the house, I instead photographed the tray of our bukhari wood heater.

 March 26th - Something I did
Here I am teaching (wearing a kira) in my classroom.

March 27th - Pair
A pair of chairs outside the general shop.

March 28th - Mirror
This truck stopped as we were walking to school - I quickly snapped a picture of the rear-vision mirror as the driver made a delivery.

March 29th - Goodnight
Goodnight to my two little boys!

March 30th - Relax
Relaxing with the Bhutanese ladies began with tea and snacks and moved swifly onto beer and x-rated conversation in Dzongkha!!!!

March 31st - Stuff
I sent stuff from Australia and bought stuff in Thimphu 2 months ago so I could make these hot cross buns today: vanilla, icing sugar, sultanas, yeast, measuring spoons and cups.

And onwards to April!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Domestic Life

I have been wanting to post some photos of our home in Chumey for a while - I waited for our internet connection to improve and in the meantime bit by bit we have transformed the empty bare apartment into our home.

The  house is actually bigger than our needs, which means we have two spare rooms! The bedrooms are so large that we decided we would all sleep in the same room which keeps us warm and we all feel secure together. One of our spare rooms has our 'junk' which isn't much! The other is our 'garage' and we store the pram there and Bob has set up a cricket set and a ten pin bowling game made out of toilet rolls for the boys to play!

Our living room with the bukhari as the focal point. The open door leads through to our bedroom.

Xavier and Remy woke all cuddled up together.
Our bedroom was so large it was big enough for all of us. We don't have wardrobes so we live out of our suitcases and Bob has put some screws in the walls to hang clothes from.

We have minimal furniture, but what we have we really appreciate after two months without. We only just received the table and benches from our landlord and it means we can sit at the table to eat and work on the computer. It is still lovely to sit on the rug by the fire and eat though, or read a book before bed.

Our dining table has a lovely view out the large window to the mountains. The kids have a toy box and mat to play on. The door leads out to our balcony where we dry our washing.

It is actually very nice to set up a home without all the clutter of all our possessions at home. You realise what is really necessary and what you can do without. The boys have a box of toys but nothing like we have at home and they still seem  content. At this point we could continue to buy things to fancy up our place but with a view to having to pack up at the end of the year in 9 months time, we will try to get by with what we have. As it is, we wonder what we will do with things at the end of the year, but already some teachers have their eye on some appliances!

Our kitchen with all mod-cons: 2L water boiler, rice cooker, toaster oven, and even a lovely red fridge.

Our pantry is always well-stocked with food we buy in Chamkar and Xavier and Remy's cousins will be happy to see we uphold the Chisholm family tradition of having a large range of cereals to choose from!

The main bathroom - which unfortuntely does not have hot water connected so we can't use the shower yet.

Our second bathroom doubles as our laundry (note fancy automatic washing machine!). The boys are surprisingly happy to be able to choose from the asian or western toilets!

One afternoon this week Bob and the boys walked down to meet me halfway home from school. There are only a couple of shops and we went to buy some groceries. It isn't wise to have too much expectation of what might be available - but be open to surprise.

You couldn't squeeze much more in!

You can buy everything from clothes, toiletries, groceries, vegetables and of course lollies all in the one shop!

Eggs are a mainstay of our diet and we've started buying them by the large tray. Here the shop owner wraps the eggs to carry home.

Whether I like it or not, the boys choose a lolly everytime from the colourful lolly jars.

Walking home with our purchases.

 Remy strikes a pose with his lollypop!

Some friends have asked for an update on how Bob is settling in to being a 'house-dad'. I think he is doing very well and is pretty happy with his life. If domesticity ever gets him down he thinks of what he might have been doing at the office if he was at home and feels grateful for the chance for a break from the 9-5 routine for a year. Far from being bored, I think Bob is discovering for himself what us mums already know - that there is barely a moment to do whatever it is you want to do for yourself in a day.

He takes care of our washing and keeping the house clean and tidy. He often makes lunch to bring down for us all to eat at school. In the absence of a ready supply of bread to make sandwiches, this often means making a curry and rice for the two of us while the boys eat a vegemite sandwich. He keeps a watch on what is available at the shops and makes sure we have the basics to keep us going. He goes to the milk processing factory to buy fresh milk and cheese and then has to boil the milk and clean the bottles before it can be stored. Every week or so he takes Remy for a long walk to the post office and back - the last three trips have been unfruitful - the post office has been closed even during working hours as the one employee is on leave.

A lot of time was spent setting up our home and liasing with the landlord and the Bhutan Telecom people, but now that those jobs are taken care of he is starting to develop some of his own projects which include: planning and designing a playground for the area outside our apartment building; designing a playground for the school and designing a waste disposal facility for the school. I think he seems quite energised reseaching these projects and drawing up plans late at night - it is good to have a diversion from housework!

As you can see we have settled into our new life and have fairly comfortable digs. All I am waiting for now is that hot water 'geyser' to arrive and it will be the icing on the cake!


Friday, March 22, 2013

February Photo-a-day

It's a case of better late than never in posting my February photo-a-day pictures - finally we have broadband and I'm able to use Blogger on my computer and can upload photos.
February seems long ago, it was a time of transition between our pampered life as travellers to our new life in rural Bhutan which required quite a lot of adjustment. At times life was a bit hectic to remember to take the photo each day, but by the end of the month I got it together enough to have a complete collection.
Do you have a favourite?

February 1st - Fork
The fork and spoon with the lovely brass plates at the Cypress Restaurant, Thimphu.

 February 2nd - Pattern
So many beautiful patterns to choose from, these were on the prayer wheels in clock-tower square.

February 3rd - Something that begins with E
Eight Eleven - the supermarket

February 4th - Hope
Prayer flags at Dochula Pass spreading messages of hope for all sentient beings on the wind

February 5th - Something you smelled
Entering the dining room at hotel and another sumptuous buffet awaits

February 6th - Soft
These handmade wool flowers caught my eye at the Chazam restaurant we stopped at enroute from
Wangdi to Chumey.

February 7th - Your name
The beautiful welcome sign in the school library

February 8th - Orange
The front door at our local monastery

February 9th - Guilty Pleasure
Have I mentioned I'm a bit addicted to the internet (especially facebook)?

February 10th - 3 O'Clock
 At three o-clock we were walking to the monastery above our house with friends Kyle and Sarah. How amazing is the span of these prayer flags?

February 11th - Entrance
This sign is at the entrance of my school

February 12th - Where you ate lunch
We were invited to share Losar (Bhutanese New Year) lunch with my school Principal and family

February 13th - Walk
Taken on my early morning walk to school

February 14th - Love is
My gift for Valentine's Day from Bob, a heart shaped ladle for our bath tub

February 15th - In my fridge
I've never had a fridge so bare - just the essentials here

February 16th - Perfect
Bhutanese students are so well behaved at assembly, and organise themselves in their places without teacher help, from class PP to 10. No fidgeting, whinging, they are perfect.

February 17th - In your hand
Remy's first experience in the snow, he had so much fun!!!

February 18th - Something you don't like
Litter is everywhere here, a scourge of the modern world
February 19th - I am...
Ready to welcome my students into the classroom

 February 20th - Where you stood
This is the interesting way we enter our school, the bars keep out wandering cows.

February 21st - Full
These pretty tea cups can be found all over Bhutan wherever tea is served, so when it came to buying our own kitchenware I had to go for some of the same pattern - kitch!

February 22nd - Makes you smile
We visited the Nomad Festival and they had a competition to guess the weight of the baby yak - that and the sight of the Bhutanese in their finest dress made me smile.

February 23rd - A word
Himalaya is the word - it is my pursuit of these magestic mountains and the culture of this region that is the reason we find ourselves in Bhutan

February 24th - Clouds
The view of clouds outside my school building

February 25th - On your bedside table
A selection of reading materials on our bedhead (we don't have a bedside table!)

February 26th - Quiet
In contrast to when they are in the classroom, the students are so quiet at lunch time - eating in almost silence with their families in the sun

February 27th - Play
We went to the Tsechu at Buli and this young boy had the important job of playing the cymbal

February 28th - Upside Down
The first thing I saw today that was upside down  - our thermals that keep us warm.