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Feeding the Monks?

A couple of days in Luang Prabang

 

The morning started early with a walk into the main part of town at 5.30am to watch the alms giving ceremony (or as Paul so unceremoniously put it –  feeding the monks!). Monks walk through the town in single file from oldest to youngest, carrying their alms bowls so that the local people may offer alms to gain merit.  Offerings are usually comprised of sticky rice, fruit or traditional Lao snacks.  Offerings must be prepared especially for the alms giving, they cannot be left overs.

Once we had “fed the monks” it was time to feed ourselves and then head off for our orientation walk with Molly and Tui, the local guide who had stayed with us since Huay Xai.  At each location Molly took us on a walk to show us the main sites and point out places we might like to visit in our spare time.  There were so many places worth visiting in and around Luang Prabang but there were three that really stood out for us.

The Museum of Traditional Arts and Ethnology

This new and permanent exhibition features 7 different ethnic groups: Akha, Hmong, Khmu, Lanten, Mien Yao, Tai Lue, and Tai Dam.

Information and photographs accompany displays of traditional clothing, handicraft tools, and religious artefacts. The museum gives an insight into the way the Hill Tribes live and some of the challenges facing their changing society.

Mount Phousi

In the center of the town sits Mount Phousi (which means Hermit Mountain), with the golden stupa of Wat Chom Si at the top of – yes you guessed it – another long flight of steps.  328 to be exact but who’s counting.  Despite the arduous climb, it really is worth paying the 20,000 kip entrance fee (about $2.40 Aud) and getting to the top for sunset.  The 360 degree views of Luang Prabang are spectacular, we thought better than those from Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai. Along the climb are several Buddha statues to view and a foot shaped imprint in the rock which the Monks call the Footprint of Buddha.

We came across a group of young monks (about 13 years of age) who seemed to get into a state of excitement and a fit of giggles when Scott said “G’day” to them!  They were curious to find out where we had come from.  Going back down the stairs towards Phousi Rd we came across another small temple Wat Tham Phou Si, with a small natural grotto that contains the temples primary Buddha statue.  A small, unappealing tunnel ran to one side and I, as most tourists seem to, almost dismissed it.  However, Scott being Scott, decided we needed to check it out and we followed the tunnel to a second grotto inside the mountain that contained more beautifully lit statues.  It was hard work, but Mt Phousi was worth every one of the 328 steps.

Kuang Si Waterfalls

About 1/2 an hour drive from Luang Prabang are Kuang Si Waterfalls.  The impressive three tier waterfalls are popular with both tourists and locals, and most of the pools are available for swimming, some with rope swings for the more adventurous.  The boys took the opportunity to cool off while I wandered further down stream for some quiet meditation time.  This went well – till I opened my eyes to  find a group of Korean tourists taking photos of me!  The Bear Rescue Center is located not far from the entrance and we got see the rare Asiatic Black Bears, that had been rescued from poachers.  Naturally this caused all sorts of excitement with Tiger Ted… being a bear and all!The evening was a free night, and as there was apparently a very important soccer (sorry – football) game on – Liverpool vs Everton – Dave and Paul headed off to find a pub with a TV and the rest of us headed out for dinner at Coconut Gardens, and once again we were not disappointed.During the day Scott and I had wandered down some wonderful little streets full of guesthouses, bars, a Belgian Beerhaus and some cafes.  We decided to take a walk to see if we could find the boys, and sure enough they were drowning their sorrows in Lao Lao Beer Garden as Liverpool were being trounced!    Nothing better than a cold Beer Lao before bed to pick you up.
The night life in Luang Prabang also revealed something unique to Laos – Laos style disco dancing, which can only be described (and demonstrated reasonably well by Paul) as cowboy type line dancing but with traditional Lao hand movements.  The boys hit the town’s more popular night spots to try their skill.  However it was close to curfew time and I decided I needed some bed rest.  Tomorrow I would need my wits about me..we were going to learn to drive an elephant.

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About The Amateur Adventurer

I call myself an amateur adventurer. You don't need to be a "professional" backpacker, you don't have to drop out to travel. I'm an ordinary person with a 9-5 job and everyday responsibilities. But I've made a point to have extraordinary experiences. And so can you. Follow me on my adventures and find out how.

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