Luang Prabang – Alms Giving, Pac Ou Caves, Mega-Wat

Alms Giving

The Alms Giving procession is part of Luang Prabang’s daily life (and actually of the life anywhere in buddhist countries). Here it is so photogenic and attracts tourists every day due to the many wats around, housing so many monks. And the monks live off alms given to them every morning by the locals. The locals kneel on the pavement along the streets (staying lower than the monks!), the monks pass by and open their jars for the locals to put in some food (mostly a small ball of sticky rice, but also cookies or whatever they feel like giving).

First: The jars the monks are carrying, being filled by locals kneeling on the pavement.

Second: Luang Prabang has many monks.

Third: Locals giving alms.

First: The monks are mostly young novices.

Second: Another street scene during the alms giving procession.

Pak Ou Caves

First: These caves are 20km Mekong upstream of Luang Prabang by boat. (No, that lady is obviously not Nina…)

Second: A local farmer floating downstream.

Third: Local public transportation boats on the Mekong.

First: The entrance to the caves, floating on the Mekong. But somebody had to take the admission fee 😉

Second: That’s what the major lower cave looks like from the Mekong, with some boats at that make-shift quai.

Third: Looking out onto the Mekong from within the cave.

First: The cave is famous for its thousands of small buddha figures brought by worshippers over the centuries made of all kinds of materials.

Second: The wodden ones showing their age most.

Third: This is the altar of the second upper cave, which is a few meters inside the cave. You’ll need torches (flashlights) to see something. Well prepared as we were we certainly had some with us 😉 And flash for taking pictures, which I usually avoid, but here no chance…

Whisky-Making Village

Many tours include one or the other stop-over in local hill tribe villages. This tour stopped at a “Whisky-making” village.

First: The whisky destillery…

Second: …and the plan how to do it. It is a fairly simple yet effective way of destilling rice in a barrel.

Third: The village was apparently prepared for hordes of tourists, offering also their weaving products. But it was low season…not many people around.

First: There was a small and well maintained wat in that village.

Second: With a cool little monkey 😉

Third: And kids playing on and in the Mekong certainly.

Back in Luang Prabang

First: Our second room in the Sopha Guesthouse. The first one was the bare minimum: A bed, a chair, and a small bathroom with no shower tub. But we had in advance negotiated the option to move to the upper floor (for some more money certainly) on the second day. And this is an old Lao style room, furnished tastefully, and a balcony in front, allowing us to sit outside, looking over the Nam Khan river with a bottle of good Beer Lao and a refreshing breeze in the evening. Very charming!

Second: We haven’t figured out what these things were supposed for. But it is apparently sticky rice, formed to something that resembles a coaster, but probably used for something completely different 😉 I don’t think that it is related to the alms giving as the locals come with a bowl of sticky rice, pick a small amount from their bowl, form it to a small ball and put that ball into the monks’ jars.

Third: This is a German truck from Viersen! Decorated colorfully, it seems to have been to many places throughout Asia already. Thumbs up guys, getting to all these places with your own car is quite an adventure!

Mega-Wat: Wat Xieng Thong

This wat is supposingly the quintessential wat of Laos, the one all others are designed after. Or alike. And indeed it is beautiful, especially on the outside. I notice I have not selected a picture from inside the sim, probably because that looked pretty much like any other wat. Ok…no surprise…if all others are designed alike ;))

First: The tree of life on the back wall of the sim.

Second: Beautiful mosaic decorations of some small side temples.

Third: The altar of such a side temple is also tastefully decorated.

Fourth: And here it is: The sim of the quintessential Laos wat.

Dinner

First: One of the smaller streets inbetween the two main streets of Luang Prabang. Tranquil, isn’t it?

Second: Having decided that we’ve seen all wats now (kind of “watted out” ;)) we had sat down for a coffee, and then moved on for a few meters to one of the many restaurants along the Mekong for dinner. This photo shows the stern of one of the local boats on the Mekong, which baosts a huge sofa for comfort. I like this photo…it pictures my feelings for Luang Prabang.

Third: While dining we could watch the sun going down behind the mountains across the Mekong.

Dinner as such, as indicated in the previous article, was quite mixed. While the vegetables were all great the fish that we had ordered…well…had a taste you would probably need to get used to. It basically was the last time we had a full Laos lunch or dinner (except for an occasional noodle soup) but since then made more often than not use of western-style dishes like sandwiches, Italian pasta, or pizza. Some stomach pain the next day in both of us made that choice even simpler.

Night Market

Luang Prabangs night market is advertised as a tourist highlight in the LP and described as a tranquil-experience as one is not constantly harassed by the sellers and can actually leisurely browse the merchandise. Luckily it is also not high season and therefore the lanes are not overcrowded, so indeed that was one of the most relaxing night market experiences I have ever had (writes Nina). On offer was a lot of handicrafts, silver, baskets, textiles and paintings – quite nice stuff really. However, it did repeat itself after the first 500 m or so. Prices were also very reasonable – no need for aggressive haggling.

I tried to efficiently work myself through the shopping list (which was continuously extended by looking at the various options ;-)) trying to be as fast as possible in order not to bore Birger. However, I soon realized, that he not only enjoyed being consulted over styles and purchases but was himself inflicted with the shopaholic symptom. He started buying and haggling and stopped worrying about packaging capacities (in fact, it was not mentioned until the next day, when he saw all the plastic bags in one corner of our room!!!) Too late!!!! 😉

Today’s Lesson: Birger is not immune to shopaholism when given the right enticement.

Categories: AsiaLuang Prabang

Originally Created: 09/03/2009 07:35:10 AM

Last Edited: 09/07/2009