Around the World Series: Wat Xieng Thong – A Buddhist temple in Laos

Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most impressive Buddhist temples in Laos, located on the northern tip of the peninsula of Luang Phrabang. It was built in 1560 by King Setthathirath.


It has an incredible history: it is one of the few survivors of an attack by the Black Flag Army in 1887,  a mercenary anti-colonial army who entered the city to pillage.


The temple was spared because one of the leaders of the attack, Deo Van Tri, had studied there to be a monk when he was young. This was his headquarters during the attack to Luang Phrabang .


Over the years, several restorations have taken place and nowadays it is one of the most important monasteries in Laos.


Photos by Nicolás Sueldo.


Celebrate the Christmas Season


Artisans for centuries have been expressing their love for the Christmas Season
by creating a variety of nativity scenes. Below are a few scenes created by the artisans
of – The House of the Figure-Makers – in Taubaté, São Paulo State (Brazil).
These artisans embrace the true meaning of Christmas.


We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year! 






Dare to Explore the World!


Dare to Explore the World!
Learn about the many cultures on this planet!
Immerse yourself into their lives…..just imagine how it is to be them! 


Over the years, through my career as an Environmental Scientist, I have been fortunate
to observe and experience the natural beauty of many different habitats in urban,
rural  & remote areas. At the same time, I have also developed an appreciation
for the arts & crafts of local communities.


In this blog I will show you some places/people I have visited and met, and discuss some
of the issues faced by local communities. You can contact me (
for presentations in your schools and also for escorted tours to Brazil.


Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam Complex


The hottest topic at the moment in the Brazilian Amazon is the possible construction of
the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam complex on the Xingu River in the State of  Pará, Brazil.




The proposal states that the dam complex will generate 11,233 megawatts (MW),
making it the world’s third-largest dam in installed capacity.  It is expected to produce
about 11 percent of Brazil’s current installed capacity at a cost of $16 billion for the
dam complex plus $2.5 billion for the transmission lines. Once completed, it will flood
vast areas of pristine Amazon forest, resulting in biodiversity loss, which will never be
recovered. Also, this affects the livelihoods of local people (i.e., Xingu indigenous
and non-indigenous people), which depend on fishing and hunting for their survival.


After many protests against the construction of the dam complex in Brazil and around
the world, a Brazilian federal judge prohibited the construction of the Belo Monte
Hydroelectric Dam complex on September 28, 2011. The judge ruled that it would
interfere with the natural flow of the Xingu River, thereby affecting local fish stocks
and harm indigenous people who rely on fishing to survive. However, Norte Energia,
the consortium involved in building the dam is expected to appeal the ruling.
Keep tuned in for further news!


Background information -  Xingu National Park


In 1961, the Villas-Bôas brothers (Orlando, Claudio and Leonardo) succeeded in getting the entire upper Xingu region legally protected as the Xingu National Park – the first huge indigenous area in all South America. The Park has an area of 2,642,003 ha (26,420 km²), with a population of approximately 5,000 indigenous people of 16 tribes. The Villas-Bôas philosophy was to allow the tribes to keep their lifestyle and to change at their own pace in a protected land, away from the bad influences of our civilization.


Thanks to the initial efforts of the Villas-Bôas brothers and the Brazilian Government,
the indigenous peoples of the Xingu National Park have been able to keep their
lifestyles and traditions.  On the other hand, the Brazilian society has also benefited
from their lifestyles. After 50 years, the park area is an oasis of cultural and biological diversity surrounded by deforested areas used as ranchlands. Their simple lifestyle
is a wonderful example of survival with nature and not against nature.


The Xingu tribes have enriched our souls by opening our eyes to a different and fascinating world. We have learned about their many ceremonies regarding the natural and spiritual world. One of them, is the “Kuarup” in which they honor the dead. As a matter of fact when Orlando Villas-Bôas died, they honored  him with a “Kuarup”.


Click here to learn more about the “Kuarup”


Below are the pictures of a small version of this ceremony when members of the Kayapó tribe came to São Paulo City to educate Brazilians about their culture. Enjoy!



This is one of the many crafts made by the Xingu tribes. This is a waved basket
by the Matipu tribe – Xingu National Park. An ethnic group close to extinction, only 127
individuals are left in this tribe. They speak the Matipu language of the Carib family.