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Friday, April 13, 2007

Lao new year. Year 2550

The Lao New Year called "Bpee Mai" or "Songkan" is celebrated every year mostly around April 13 to April 16.

New Year Traditions

The festival last for three days. The first of the three days is the last day of the old year. Houses and villages are properly cleaned on the first day. Perfume, water and flowers are also prepared for the Lao New Year. The second day of the festival is the "day of no day," which means that the second day doesn't fall in the old year or the new year. The last day of the festival marks the magnificent New Year. The New Year is usually celebrated during the full moon is out or close to it.

Water is used for washing homes, Buddha images, monks, and soaking friends and passers-by. Students first respectfully pour water on their elders, then monks for blessings of long life and peace, and last of all they throw water each other. The water is perfumed with flowers or natural perfumes. Some people prefer flowers in the water to give a pleasant smell, as well as adding cologne/perfume. The idea of watering came from the legend of King Kabinlaphom, whose seven daughters kept his severed head in a cave. The daughters would visit their father's head every year and perform a ritual to bring happiness and good weather. Over the years another tradition has developed with Lao New Year: people will smear or throw cream (shaving cream or whipped cream) or white powder on each other during the celebrations.

Sand is brought to the temple grounds and is made into stupas or mounds, then decorated before being given to the monks as a way of making merit. There are two ways to make the sand stupas. One way is to go to the beach, and the other way is to bring sand to the wat, or pagoda. Sand stupas are decorated with flags, flowers, white lines, and splashed with perfumed water. Sand stupas symbolize the mountain, Phoukao Kailat, where King Kabinlaphom's head was kept by his seven daughters.

Another way to make merit at this time is to set animals free. The Lao believe that even animals need to be free. The most commonly freed animals are tortoises, fish, crabs, birds, eels, and other small animals.

Flowers are gathered to decorate Buddha images. In the afternoons people collect fresh flowers. Senior monks take the younger monks to a garden filled with flowers, where they pick flowers and bring back to the wat to wash. People who didn't participate in the flower picking bring baskets to wash the flowers so the flowers can shine with the Buddha statues.

There is an annual pageant in Luang Prabang to crown Miss Bpee Mai Lao (Miss Lao New Year). There are many beauty pageants in Laos, but Luang Prabang - the old capital - is widely known for its Nangsoukhane pageant. There are seven contestants, each one symbolizing one of King Kabinlaphom's seven daughters.

Nights during New Year include traditional Lao music, mor-lam, and ram-wong (circle dancing). During the daytime almost everybody is at the temple worshipping, hoping to have a healthier and happier life in the new year. During the evening, people of all ages go to the wat for entertainment.

If you go to Laos during the New Year time, be prepared to get wet. Laotions are very friendly folks who don't mean any harm. If you are out driving or walking on the streets they will squirt you with water. Don't fret, they mean no harm - they are not only wishing a long and healthy life for themselves, but they are also wishing the same for you. There are, however, some minor accidents during this time of the year. The roads can get pretty slippery, so be cautious of where you walk or drive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lao_New_Year

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Geographical Information System in Laos

Geographical Information System in Laos

The government will have access to more information to allow the expansion of the electricity grid in rural areas, by using a computerised Geographical Information System.

Yesterday in Vientiane the government agreed to funding for the project from ‘Intelligent Energy Europe' and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It approved the Capacity and Institutional Strengthening for Rural Electrification and Development project to test and implement a pilot project for decentralised energy options in Khammuan province.

Khammuan province has facilities for the generation of electricity through hydropower and solar power, as well as capable human resources.

The project will provide important information for rural electrification planning in the future, said the Director General of the Department of Electricity, Mr Houmphone Bulyaphone.

The project will be tested and implemented in Laos and Cambodia , and will run for two years from 2007-2008.

The objective of the project is to improve the impact of rural electrification on sustainable development and poverty alleviation, using the Geographical Information System.

Both countries will develop their technical capacity and be provided with the hands-on tools to direct investments and decide between off-grid and on-grid options, renewable or fossil fuel off-grid production, as well as priority projects to maximise development.

Training sessions will be organised for a hands-on approach to learning, along with regular meetings with working groups to ensure sharing of knowledge and ownership building.

The GIS-based tool GEOSIM for rural electrification will be developed as a result of the two ASEAN member countries having very low rates of rural electrification.

GEOSIM is a computerised rural electrification planning tool developed by Innovation Energie Developpement of France .

An electricity service plays a key role in rural development, giving access to affordable, reliable and safe electricity which can improve food, education and health services, as well as improving opportunities for income generation.

By KHAMPHONE SYVONGXAY
(Latest Update April 5, 2007)

http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeContent_geograpichcal.htm

Sunday, April 1, 2007

SWER: Single Wire Earth Return



In Laos there is a cheap system for electrification to remote area. SWER or Single Wire Earth Return is being used in southern and central part of the country when in the north there is shield wire system.

For more details about SWER you can read from www.ruralpower.org

Comparing the 2 pictures above, the left one is conventional 22 kV distribution system and the right one is 12.7 kV monophase SWER system, which is simplier in construction, fewer components and less cost.