Category Archives: Events

Japan x Sabai: Sounds, Sights, Tastes, Smiles, Friendship a Feast at Tokyo’s Laos Festival ’19

Laos Festival 2019 Celebrated in Tokyo, Japan May 25-26, 2019

Dancing, Friendship, Frivolity & Unmistakable Sound of World Heritage Listed Bamboo-Piped Khaen Among the Greetings to Tokyo’s Famous Yoyogi Park for Japan’s Laos Festival 2019, The Laotian Times reports.

Doing, Doing, Done: Can-Do Cycle Team Dai Rides On Against Odds For HOPE Children’s Charity

Cyclist Charity Team Dai on a Mountaintop!

Laos-based international cyclist charity Team Dai including keen cyclist Ms Thu Ng from Vietnam tackle multiple challenges, raise confidence levels and much-needed funds, seeking to surpass the USD15,000 donation mark for disadvantaged children’s Hope Centre. 

Thinking of cycling, in some parts of the world, and lycra-clad road warriors and their aspirants will come to mind.

In others, perhaps a leisurely cruise down a local bike path or in a park, perhaps by a lake or riverside.

Elsewhere, this is not quite the case. In the case of developing countries like Laos, cycling is often seen as hot, old fashioned, disadvantageous and even highly dangerous.

Road safety is also a malleable concept. Drink driving too often prevails, peaking during festive seasons.

You could say being a cyclist in Laos is generally no “ride in the park”.

In fact, it can be an activity that best suits the determined.

The fairly flat Vientiane plain notwithstanding, Laos is certainly a majority mountainous country.

The quality of roads can leave a great deal wanting. Its a fact that surfacing on many a Lao thoroughfare is often in a more rustic condition than you see at the neighbors. Add a very warm, tropical climate and variable air quality as issues that impact.

 

It is also a developing nation where most folks aspire to motor vehicle ownership, cycling does not convey the status it does in more developed nations.

Cycling them puts you in close contact with all the vehicles, large and small, controlled by drivers of all levels of skill, experience, and temperament.

So why would a woman cycle?

It’s a question keen rider Ms Thu Ng knows better than most.

Growing up in neighboring Vietnam before making a home with her husband from Laos, she has been living in the capital Vientiane for some years.

"This year's Team Dai Challenge was my fourth. For me, it was another great year of riding with like-minded and supportive Team Dai members." Thu Ng, cyclist

“This year’s Team Dai Challenge was my fourth. For me, it was another great year of riding with like-minded and supportive Team Dai members.” Ms Thu Ng

She comes up against reflexively scornful attitudes toward the humble bicycle and cyclists both on the streets and at home.
It’s positive health and social impacts are less understood.

Cycling can be seen as a dangerous activity and certainly not one for a woman, particularly wife or mother, to be engaged in.

Ms Thu Ng tackled her fourth Team Dai Challenge for charity raising some US$14,630 to date for the HOPE Center’s work.

She shared her thoughts on the ride from her perspective as a keen cyclist and woman.

“This year’s Team Dai Challenge was my fourth and for me, it was another great year of riding with like-minded and supportive Team Dai members.” 

“In the Asian culture in which I grew up, I normally get told that women should stay home and not risk their lives.

“This mindset makes it hard for us women to engage in what is seen as extreme sports or exercise.”

“But I am a real optimist and believe that the best part of life is having the freedom to do whatever you are passionate about.

“This is happiness and this is all about life.”

Team Dai members including Ms Thu Ng

Team Dai members including Ms Thu Ng

Similarly, she was drawn to the engaging aspect of making a contribution to the society of the country she calls home.

“It has been said that giving is a simple solution towards some of the world’s most complicated problems. 

“So every year, we volunteer our time and efforts to carry out Team Dai’s mission of raising funds to help our community.

“For me personally, the ability to give support and spread love is the very best part of every Team Dai challenge.”

Team Dai Cyclist Charity Efforts Fund HOPE

The recipient of this affection in 2019 is the HOPE Centre, a community outreach program launched by ARDA Language Centre Vientiane in 2006.

HOPE Centre helps over 200 children and youth who are at risk of abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking.

The center aims to serve the most vulnerable children and youth in the community to see them grow and develop in a healthy way and give them new hope for the future.

It does so by providing a safe environment where children begging on the streets, those living in slum communities and working could stop in during the day to bathe, receive medical care, a nutritious meal, general education and be involved in other activities including arts & crafts, music, sports and participate in special events.

Staff work alongside families living in poor communities to alleviate child labor and exploitation by helping them improve their livelihoods, parenting skills, and living conditions so that their children will have a suitable place to live and attend school.

Cyclist Charity Team Dai at HOPE Center

Cyclist Charity Team Dai at HOPE Center

Trauma counseling, educational therapy, and social skills development to child victims of abuse and exploitation help them address past experiences and move forward to lead productive lives.

Scholarships are also provided to help deter children from begging or being forced into other forms of child labor while providing enhanced educational opportunities.

Meanwhile, sporting activities including soccer and volleyball are used to divert children and youth from being drawn into a downward spiral including drug abuse.

Team Dai Cyclist Members in Luang Prabang

Team Dai Cyclists in Luang Prabang

Located at ARDA Language Centre in Vientiane, HOPE Centre welcomes every child, particularly the poor and vulnerable, a worthy cause Team Dai are proud to support.

Team Dai Cyclist Celebrates

Team Dai Cyclist Celebrates Calf-Building Charity Efforts

Lumberings & Longings: Trials, Tales As Domesticated Elephants, Handlers Adjust to A New Era in Laos

Laos Mahout

Like wildlife in biological hotspots worldwide, Laos’ wild and domesticated elephants alike are facing a time of rapid and significant change, amid increased man-made developments and a fast-changing natural and socio-economic environment, Laotian Times writes.

Goût as Gold: French Cuisine’s Global Celebration Goes Provençal in Laos’ Capital Vientiane

Goût de France - Good France 2019 in Vientiane, Laos

France’s Provence in the spotlight as the inspirations from UNESCO-recognized cuisine make their annual return to Vientiane via Goût de France.

“For the past 5 years, Goût de France has been bringing together restaurateurs from all over the world and food lovers to celebrate in March the gourmet French meal, recognized as intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO,”  Ambassador of France in Laos Mrs. Florence Jeanblanc-Risler told restaurateurs and assembled news media personnel

“Goût de France highlights all of these elements united by the word “pleasure”. We are excited to see this festival grow year by year: in total more than 5000 restaurants will participate in the 2019 edition in more than 150 countries. In Laos, Goût de France is also growing: 9 restaurants and establishments will participate in the various events planned in Vientiane during this month of March.

“First of all, on March 15th here at the Residence, several restaurants in Vientiane will join forces to offer an exceptional meal with the flavors of this region.  To the sound of a jazz band, you will be able to enjoy the most typical dishes: zucchini flower stuffed with ratatouille, Bouillabaisse, Tropézienne strawberry lavender etc.

“We are talking about good cuisine but also a certain universal art of “good way of eating” with the choice of quality products and season, the “good way of drinking” with an agreement between dishes and wines, and also about a “lifestyle” and about the French service that combines the cuisine to choose plates, cutlery and glasses and how to serve them.”
“It is finally the meal as a moment of sharing and conviviality, between family and friends.

“For the 2019 edition of Goût de France, two themes were chosen: Provence, and Sustainable Development.

“Provence because this region of the South of France has a strong image evocative of sun, sea and mountains so often painted by the impressionists. It also produces a great variety of sun-ripened fruits and vegetables, very beautiful wines; it is also a welcoming region due to its climate and the warmth of its inhabitants. Everyone knows Marseille, Nice, Cannes, the Cote d’Azur but also the “small Alps” called the Alpilles.

“From March 20 until April 1, the region Provence will be on the tables of several restaurants in Vientiane: l’Adresse, l’ATMO, le Bistro 22, la Cage du Coq, ParadIce and Nadao will offer menus that will celebrate, each in their own way, this region rich in culinary traditions.

Goût de France - Good France 2019 in Vientiane, Laos

Goût de France – Good France 2019 in Vientiane, Laos

“The second theme chosen is the one of sustainable development. We all need producers, consumers, restaurateurs to protect our planet; the 2019 edition of Goût de France is therefore under the sign of a more responsible cuisine.

“As a continuation of the Paris agreement on the fight against climate change and to translate these commitments in the field of food, France is at the forefront of the global mobilization for the environment. Goût de France, the major event on the calendar of French gastronomy, is therefore in 2019, seeking an approach that is more respectful of the resources of the planet.

I wish here to highlight the actions of the chefs among us who put their cooking at the service of the globe.

The participating restaurants at Goût de France gave priority to short circuits and feed on local products. Many institutions have banned the use of plastic in their kitchens.

In addition to these two themes that will be highlighted by restaurants around the world, the French Embassy in Laos also wanted to put Goût de France in Laos under the sign of youth which represents the future.

Several young Laotians will be offered free tickets to the prestigious meal of Goût de France at the Residence of March 15. In addition, we have launched via social networks a presentation contest on French and Laotian gastronomy.

“Winners will be eligible to receive invitations at participating restaurants and the first prize will receive an invitation for two guests on the evening of March 15th.

Before closing this presentation, I would like to thank our chefs here again.

“Gentlemen restaurateurs, you proudly fly in Vientiane the colors of the French gastronomy! Often established a long time in this country, you practice a cuisine that uses French techniques enriched products and Laotian influence.

“French gastronomy is welcoming and open and I am very happy to see two Laotian chefs participating in the event this year!”

Participating restaurateurs: l’Adresse, l’ATMO, Bistro 22, la Cage du Coq, ParadIce, Trio Coffee, Chef Panh, M by K Cafe and Nadao.

Event sponsors include Pernod Ricard’s Mumm champagne, also known for its “Ricard” pastis and the Landmark Mekong River Hotel for tables, chairs & tableware.

Never Give Up! Rising Star Alita Gets Set to Shine At Cool & Kawaii Japan 2019

Alita Alounsavath at Cool & Kawaii Japan 2019 in Vientiane, Laos

Laos’ singer and rising star Alita Alounsavath is set to perform in the capital Vientiane for Cool & Kawaii Japan 2018 on Saturday evening (Feb 16).

Fireworks, Parades, Military & Political Milestones: Lao Armed Forces At 70

Lao People's Army Celebrates 70 Years Milestone

More than just an anniversary, the celebrations for the 70 years of the Lao Armed Forces on January 20 also a provide a handy milestone in the Lao political cycle.

That wasn’t just a half hour of fireworks on That Luang Esplanade and the biggest parade by the nation’s troops in a decade.

Last weekend’s celebration of the 70 years of the Lao Armed Forces was also a forum for international military-military links and a milestone in the Lao political cycle that marks three years since the previous Party Congress and two years until the next.

Lao Armed Forces Show off Russian-made Tanks at 70th Anniversary parade

Lao Armed Forces Show off Russian-made Tanks at 70th Anniversary parade

Kommadam Academy of the Ministry of National Defense in Naxaythong district was the venue for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Lao People’s Army. There the Armed Forces showcased the capacities of members and their equipment in service of the people of Laos.

(Image KPL)

The event was an eye catcher, bringing together the nations front line serving military personnel and hardware in a way that is rarely witnessed in peacetime Laos.

Photographers from local and international news agencies snapped images of equipment including theYak-130 advanced jet trainer appearing, in this case caught on image via news agencies such as China’s Xinhua.

However, it was images of the personnel themselves that proved quite gripping and potentially fear-inducing.

The parade was broadcast by Lao National Television and partners including Lao Star TV.

Live ພີທີສະເຫຼີມສະຫຼອງວັນສ້າງຕັ້ງກອງທັບປະຊາຊົນລາວ ຄົບຮອບ 70 ປີ [ 20-01-2019]

Live ພີທີສະເຫຼີມສະຫຼອງວັນສ້າງຕັ້ງກອງທັບປະຊາຊົນລາວ ຄົບຮອບ 70 ປີ [ 20-01-2019]

Posted by LAO STAR TV on ວັນເສົາ ທີ 19 ມັງກອນ 2019

As in Laos as much as anywhere, such an event to honor a nation’s armed forces is also attended by the country’s most powerful civilian as well as military leaders, past and present.

As such, the event was held in the presence of Party and government leaders including President Bounnhang Vorachit, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, senior military officials, former leaders, foreign military officials and representatives of mass organizations.

The event comes some three years to the day since the 10th Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Congress in January 2016 and some two years out from the next. A Party Congress helps set policy directions and can have lasting influence not only on the fate of the nation but on the career trajectories of its delegates alike.

LPRP Secretary General, President of Laos Mr Bounnhang Vorachit speaks at Lao People's Armed Forces 70th Anniversary Parade. (Image KPL)

LPRP Secretary General, President of Laos Mr Bounnhang Vorachit speaks at Lao People’s Armed Forces 70th Anniversary Parade. (Image KPL)

The event comes after Lao Defence Minister Chansamone Chanyalath’s promotion to the rank of General – the highest rank in the Lao People’s Army – in 2018.

Presidents of the Lao PDR present and former standing to attention as military leaders salute.

Presidents of the Lao PDR present and former standing to attention as military leaders salute.

While Laos remains under civilian rule under the LPRP, military service and familial connections provide one of the fertile sources for political capital in the country’s single party system.

International attendance was also up.

A number of foreign military delegations, including those from Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Russia, Myanmar and Thailand, as well as representatives from diplomatic corps and international organizations also attended.

Alongside the closely politically aligned neighbors namely Vietnam and China, capturing the recent headlines in military relations with Laos has been Russia.

While the export of some 30 famed T-34 tanks from Laos to Russia grabbed global headlines recently, some more modern kit has been heading the other way.

Conspicuous among the hardware on display were modern T-72 tanks and BRDM-2M armored cars reported Russia’s Sputnik News Agency via globalsecurity.org

Russia’s Head of the Directorate General for international military cooperation Aleksandr Klimovsky stated that Moscow had opened a military office in Laos while at the parade in the country’s capital of Vientiane on Sunday.

High level as to be expected, the Vietnamese delegation to the event was led by Politburo member and Minister of National Defence, General Ngo Xuan Lich. With his Lao counterpart General Chansamone, he presided over the start of repair work at the Lao capital’s Museum of Military History with the granting of some 13 billion kip (1.5 Million USD).

Not to be outdone, China was also conspicuous in its generosity, handing over a medical ward at Vientiane’s Military Hospital 103. Covering 24,000 square it meters, is equipped with nearly 300 beds and six operating rooms, and can provide medical treatments for approximately 3,000 outpatients each day.

Later the same evening, ground shaking booms and shimmering explosives were felt and indeed seen from vantage points across Vientiane on January 20 as the country’s Armed Forces marked 70 years since its establishment with a generous pyrotechnic display above That Luang Stupa, the nation’s “heart”.

Members of the public sat in the back of parked pickup trucks or stood with camera phones raised in wonder as the booms echoed across the flat and reflective asphalt surfaces to take in the spike in sight and sound.

The pyrotechnics were the biggest to be witnessed in the capital since December 2015 for the marking of the 40th Anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Democratic Republic.

Amid the pyrotechnic bombast, one could easily imagine a twinkle in the eye of another Lao warrior, the leader King Setthathirat, whose statue sits ever perched upon his elevated pedestal in front of the golden stupa.

Lao People's Army Celebrates 70 Years Milestone

Lao People’s Army Celebrates 70 Years Milestone

Voices of the Wind

“We take bamboo and we take trees and we turn them into traditional music.”

– Neng Chue Vang, Hmong instrument maker and musician

Art + Altitude: Elevations Takes Exploration of Laos’ Depth of Artistic Forms, Inspirations to New Heights

Depths by Elevations Laos (Laos Briefly)

by Julia Case-Levine

Traditional practices accompany contemporary trends in Depths, the inaugural exhibit of Elevations, a non-profit art initiative launched this month in the Southeast Asian nation of Laos.

Launched last Friday night in the Lao capital Vientiane and continuing until January 16th, the exhibition is both an international event, including artists from China to Cambodia, and a celebration of work of three local artists, Tcheu Siong, Bounpaul Phothyzan and Souliya Phoumivon.

This month, the trio will become the first-ever group of artists from Laos to be included in Brisbane, Australia’s Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, the Queensland Art Gallery’s Gallery of Modern Art’s flagship exhibition.

Depths is divided into three “chapters”—Other, Lands and Selves—reflecting themes explored in the work of Siong, Phothyzan, and Phoumivon respectively.

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

These sections, each occupying a room at I:Cat, present traditional visual and textile work alongside contemporary sculpture, installations and audio-visuals.

The result is a sprawling, impressive debut fitting an ambitious new organization.

Significantly, Depths showcases video and material installation by artists from Laos —including forms that have not always resonated with a local audience.

As Phothyzan explained in a panel at Elevation’s opening symposium; “When I exhibited conceptual work in Laos once before, the reaction was not good. The interest was not here—the thought was that the arts must be drawing, painting, visuals.”

In Depths, Phothyzan’s material installation is a trio of mounted bombshells, each precariously supporting an empty, white, hauntingly pristine birdhouse. His work powerfully reflects both on the devastations of Laos’ recent history of war and his late father’s career as a soldier.

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

At Elevation’s Symposium event, Lao artists spoke of the pressure to focus on traditional painting and sculpture as these forms remain the most lucrative, thanks to the demand that is driven by the tourist industry.

Phoumivon, who graduated from Laos’ National Institute of Fine Arts in 2008, found his departure from visual work met with outright disapproval: “People asked me, how are you going to feed your family, make money in Laos if you are not painting?”

Erin Gleeson, Elevation’s founding artistic director and curator, hoped to answer this question by developing a space supportive of both traditional and non-visual art forms. Says Gleeson: “We wanted to create an environment in which it felt right to show not only painting but also [installation] work artists might usually show outside.”

Phoumivon’s marvellous stop-motion animation—an eerie, playful series depicting humans transforming into a colorful herd of buffalo—represents, in part, Phoumivon’s struggle to resist social pressure and follow his artistic instincts.

“It’s easy to follow the train of society—to become a buffalo. If you simply follow trends, follow materialistic impulses, even highly educated people can become buffalos,” Phoumivon says.

While Elevations places Lao artists among their international peers in Depths, the organization also aims to encourage growth in the local art world. Public programs—ranging from film screenings to art-classes—offer support for emerging artists.

A reading room in Little House Café, a short walk from the gallery, allows patrons to browse texts on art history, theory and practice, while children can color on worksheets inspired by the gallery exhibition.

In addition to its public programs, Elevations is organizing a competition for local emerging artists on even years and a subsequent international exhibition on odd years.

Elevations was founded by Gary Stafford of the Spellbrook Foundation. Stafford served as a managing director of Brisbane-based copper and gold miner PanAust Limited, best known in Laos for its Phu Bia Mining subsidiary.During Stafford’s 18 years managing PanAust, he frequently travelled to Laos, his interest in art collection gradually familiarizing him with the local scene.

When he began investigating how to support emerging Lao artists he was introduced to Gleeson, who at the time was serving as curator and the founding Artistic Director of SA SA BASSAC in Phnom Penh.

The two collaborated to create a unique initiative that would best suit Laos, drawing on support from the Australian Embassy, STELLA, and I:Cat gallery.

Elevations aims to enrich an artistic ecosystem in Southeast Asia by nurturing connections between diverse artists. “If we bring the right people together, networks are formed and opportunities are made,” Gleeson says.

Guo-Liang Tan, an exhibiting artist from Singapore, attests. “Already we’ve exchanged many stories, developed personal and professional relationships.”

Tan also observed the opportunity for intercultural learning afforded by exhibiting abroad. “It’s a great chance for those of us not from Laos to learn about a place many of us have not yet been.”

The visiting artists were introduced to Vientiane on a tour led by Elevations last Friday, focusing on the city’s artistic and literary history.

Although Depths’ range can be dizzying, its lack of focus is often a strength—in moments, contrast creates a delightful tension between works.

Such is the case in the exhibition’s second chapter, Lands, in which a panel of austere, serene water patterns are shown beside destructive, explosive rivers in looping video footage of the impact of humanity on nature for our modern power needs.

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Among a number of superb pieces—such as prints that transform abandoned lots into dreamy landscapes and a photo-series that documents a Hmong legend as lived out in America—the colorful, enigmatic needlework of Lao artist Tcheu Siong is not to be missed.

Siong translates her dreams into large-scale textiles, relying on Hmong mythology and her husband’s shamanistic practice as interpretive tools. While her work is rooted in tradition, the product is something utterly unique, and unlike the full canvases and bold geometric patterns of traditional Hmong textile.

Her textiles depict human figures engulfed in cheerfully polka-dotted creatures. Heart shaped decals flower across the canvas like otherworldly eyes. Appliqués appear simple geographic forms at first glance, but upon closer observation reveal themselves as bodied animals and humans.

The blend of old and new in Siong’s work perhaps best exemplifies Depth’s power as a conceptually modern exhibition that doesn’t belittle or dismiss traditional practices but considers how these may be used in fresh and unusual ways.

Text: Julia Case-Levine
Images: Laos Briefly

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)
Depths, an exhibition by Elevations at I:Cat Gallery Simeuang Village in Vientiane, Laos. (Laos Briefly)

Depths at I: Cat Gallery, Simeuang Village, Vientiane Capital, Laos until January 16, 2019.

Opening hours:

Everyday 11:00 – 18:00

Phone for appointment: 020 77839674

Email: icatgallery@gmail.com

Depths Exhibition by Elevations Laos

Depths Exhibition by Elevations Laos