We arrived in Luang Prabang and had a look around the evening tourist markets. There is a lot of tourism here, so all sorts of businesses have sprung up to service the industry. I was keen to see the Pak Ou Caves (Buddha Caves), but we were both tired and decided to give it a miss, particularly as we knew it would be full of people. We were experiencing a feeling of ‘tourist overload’ after the calm of Northern Laos.
Getting up at the crack at dawn, we set out to watch the ‘giving of alms’ to the monks. The practice of getting up before daybreak to donate food to the orange-robed Buddhists of Luang Prabang is as ancient as some of the city’s temples. Those who participate hope that they will earn a few credits to come back as a higher life form.
What we didn’t expect was for every other tourist to be up at the same ridiculously early hour with the same intention. We were glad to have our long lenses, so we could photograph from a distance without disturbing the proceedings. As more monks appeared, more tourists (and cameras) filled up the streets, and the mood began to change a little. There was a little jostling for space, as everyone frantically tried to grab their photographs. A few times i had people stand directly in front of my lens so that they could get their shot. Those with compact camera and shorter lenses had to stand very close to the procession, and i was beginning to wonder what the monks thought of all this. I never cease to be amazed at the politeness of the people from SE Asia, and the bad behaviour of some (mainly western) tourists. After a while we began to feel quite uncomfortable to be a part of the crowd, and decided to leave and grab some breakfast.
Below are some photographs taken of the monks receiving rice, which are probably exactly the same as everyone else’s 😉