Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Royal Wedding - Mongolian Style!

You're right, I really shouldn't start a blog post with a picture of a picture ( even if it is a picture of a moving picture - thus making it every so much more realistic!).  Regrettably, my invitation to the Royal Wedding was misplaced, so the "in person" shots just weren't available to me.  Of course, that did not mean I didn't celebrate!  What kind of colonial would I be if I didn't celebrate the wedding of the second in line to the throne of Canada? Being in Mongolia was, as it turned out, no impediment....thanks in large part to Robyn, our IWAM president who worked tirelessly to turn this into an opportunity to not only have a little fun, but raise money to help the disadvantaged here in Mongolia.

To start, we had both the red and the blue room at a local brew pub.  Lovely coincidence seeing as the  colours for the event were red, white and blue.  The dress code?  Women in tiaras, men in bow ties....well it was a royal wedding wasn't it...and this way every girl there got to be a princess... of sorts.

And, what is a wedding without a wedding cake?  One of our members, Monica, made this stunning and extraordinarily delicious wedding cake for us all to enjoy!  The cake toppers?  Thanks to the daughter of another of our members.  I loved them!
...and the tiaras?  They ranged from simple, elegant, wood nymph in pearls. the glam girls.... Barbie meets Star Trek meets medieval Mongolian monarch...all with just a touch of glitter thrown in for good measure....Oh, by the way, these are some of your IWAM board members and yes, this is the way we roll!

Throw in a little gypsy,  a little traditional elegant chapeau de fleur, some food, drinks, lots of friends and and t.v. event of the decade, (well... if you don't include the world championships of curling....) and you've got yourself a party!


All the fun and games aside, one of the purposes of the event was to  raise money to help out here at the end of the earth. To that end, IWAM got a percentage of the food and drink sold, gratefully accepted donations, had a silent auction and raffled a variety of lovely local and imported items - the coveted items, of course, were the memorabilia of the event itself which had been carried in by a dedicated Brit who wanted to help out our function!  Thanks to him...and a little luck, I am now the proud owner of ....

The "official" Royal Wedding Playing Cards.  Not even kidding.  Now, seriously, of all the perks from this overseas lifestyle, it doesn't get any better than this! So much fun!  Oh, and I also won a one month membership to a new and very flash gym here....likely a good idea given the quantity and frequency of dinners & drinks here.

A couple more lucky winners with their loot!

And, of course, there were a number of wannabe Mongolian Queens ...some much more convincing than others....Judy has the wave perfected!

And she's got something of a genetic advantage to rocking the look...

And I don't think you are going to top the serene queen look that she's got going on......unless.....'re a totally different kind of queen! Cute isn't he? It is a little unsettling though, how well he carries it off!

Well, the Royals are married ... only a couple of things left to make the celebration here in our corner of the world complete....
First, the cake!  Yum! 

And The Kiss!

What else can I say - looks like the deal is signed, sealed, and delivered... and they really looked the part of the future King and Queen.   According to one of the embassy staff who was in attendance ( who happened to know the royals..hmmn) they are  also a really nice couple in real life. Well, really, they must be - I mean, their first official trip outside the UK?  Canada.  Hmmn... maybe they are popping by my place to apologize for the oversight of not sending me my invite . You don't think so? Well, a princess can dream can't she?

So, what else is there to say?
 Best Wishes to you both from all of us here at the end of the earth. Oh, and one more piece of advice I suspect you could use.....

Illigitemus Non Carborundem

Thursday, April 28, 2011

ESL pictures post

These photos are for my English students' assignment. They were all taken in Malaysia during our recent holiday.  If you are not one of my English students and would like to have the full story on what you are seeing, please scroll down to the next  few posts on Pangkor Island Beach Resort and the rest of our holiday..

If you are my English student, please choose your favourite photo and use it as the front of a postcard and write a post card to your favorite friend or relative.

Please use as many adjectives as you can to describe your holiday. This should be 5-8 sentences long and you should describe your hotel (location, amenities), the weather, what you are doing on your vacation  (some indoor and outdoor activities and what kind of food you are eating) at the hotel and if you are enjoying yourself.

Please email me your "postcard" at :
by Sunday evening so I can correct them and print out the postcards for the class on Tuesday. Email me if you have any questions!

Please tell me which photo you are using for the front of your postcard - they all have numbers!

If you want to know more about my holiday, please read my other blog posts or google 
pangkor island beach resort.

See you Tuesday!  ( Hoer Dex Odoor Ultsee...)




















A Truly Happy Story.....The Children's Home - Taiping Malaysia

Finally, a happy story about an orphanage!  Actually not just a happy story, a really wonderful story. As some of you might know, we have a small family run foundation that helps support and educate orphans around the world.  Well, around the world sounds a little grand, truly we work mostly in the U.S., Malaysia and now, of course Mongolia... which only makes two continents so I think maybe we'll have to tone down the "around the world" stuff.  Either that or find some orphans who need help in Europe of Africa.. like that would be tough to do!  But I digress...this is the story of our recent visit to the Rumah Kanak - Kanak or The Children's home in Taiping Malaysia.
The Ruma Kanak-Kanak currently is home to 64 disadvantaged children.  A number of them are true orphans, but the majority are 'fiscal' orphans...meaning they have one parent living but that parent (usually the mother) is unable to provide for them. Many of them come from more than humble beginnings - many have suffered abuse at home and a lot of the older ones are long term residents. 

Ok, ok...I know, so far this is not looking so much like a happy ( didn't I say wonderful before???) story..but hang in there - I'm getting to it. 

There are 2 dorms - a boy's and a girl's, each one at the moment (somewhat coincidentally) houses 34 children ranging in age from 3 to 18....and because of the wonderful atmosphere in this institution, that makes for a pretty big family.  And I use that word deliberately, because when I was there it sure looked (and felt!) like a family in action. ( FYI....that's the really wonderful part!!)

There is a staff of  about 8 office staff, administrators, housemothers and maintenance personnel most of which live away from the home and merely come in to work. What I saw though, when I was there visiting, was, without a doubt, family.  Large, complicated, boisterous and sometimes rambunctious ( good word idn't it? ) but nevertheless a family.

Some of the boys in their dorm room with their house mother.

And the view from the girl's floor.

I love it!  This completely reminds me of a huge  sign I had on my bedroom door when I was 14 or so....Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here..... Some things are a constant and I guess 14 year old girls must be one of those things!

Some of the girls with their house mother.

...and with their visiting Canadian / Mongolian auntie!

This girl had personality plus!!   She was happy to show me her locker..the only corner of semi private space in the place  - all  the children share a locker with one other child. She was very proud of how neat hers was and was thrilled to show it to me, but not everyone was so eager!  All in all though, the place was immaculate, the kids well dressed and clean ...and just so happy!  A far cry from a lot of what I have seen here in Mongolia!

Lots of joking around with the girls once the ice had been broken.  The boys were very shy with me, but I spent quite a bit of time laughing and joking ( and snapping pics!) with the girls.  It was really lovely.

Of course, we had our serious moments too.

But mostly, just fun!

As you can see, the beds (bunk beds) are very close together leaving little room for privacy, but lots of room to run around and muck about in...and of course, at one end of the room is the study corner.  The kids work very hard to try and get into good schools and colleges.  At the moment they have 3 children in college and one, Sudha, in University in Russia studying to be a doctor!  The Veloo Foundation has been helping her with her education for five years now, and she will be graduating in June of 2012 and I really hope we get to be there for her graduation ceremony.  I do kind of feel like she's one of ours too!  It is a wonderful feeling to see so many more of these kids really striving to follow her example and get a higher education. I am trying to coordinate to get some more books to them - they could really use a library!

We were very lucky to be in town on a school holiday so we got to see all of the kids mingling together at lunch.  Lunch was a big deal that day...KFC donated by one of the many sponsors in the community.  And yes, it was delivered in this van!
 Actually, that is truly one of the great things about this orphanage, every time I have been there, someone shows up with a package or a bundle or a bag of clothes or food or school supplies to help out.  The community not only supports the home, they feel invested in it and many individuals make it a habit to give generously and frequently in kind, if not in cash, to help out.  It is wonderful to see. And the kids know it too..they know that people really care, even if their families don't or can't.

Lunch time... one of the few times for boys and girls to mingle... and mingle they do!

Really, I didn't want to go there but don't it look Finger Lickin' Good?  Just sayin..uh huh

And then... it was time to let the kids get back to their lives...and, with a will of steel, walk away without taking any of them home!  I really enjoyed my time there and seeing this orphanage  and its relationship to people and businesses in the local community, especially in contrast to what we are working with here in Mongolia, has given me some very valuable pointers as to what is needed here to make the orphanage network more viable and humane......oh, and more fun for the kids too.

It was truly a wonderful visit. * sigh*