After three long back to back flights (San Francisco-Taipei-Bangkok-Luang Prabang) we settled in to a lovely small hotel (13 rooms) on the banks of the mighty Mekong River. Their restaurant overlooks the river. We watch the riverboats and net fishermen at work during breakfast. Outrageously hot and humid as always. Back to the skin quality of our 30’s.
Laos was part of French IndoChina. Subservient colonies to their overseers. Most Lao’s and Vietnamese were slave labor for French companies who paid them with food and clothing and not much else. Enough for the politics. The old town area is an official UNESCO Heritage site. During our previous trip here work had just begun on infrastructure improvements. The first block was getting curbs and beautiful herringbone designed brick sidewalks. That work in now complete. All buildings over 100 years old are protected. The architecture is French Colonial.
This morning we got up at 5:15 to see the area monks do their morning alms run at sun up, 5:35. The citizens of the town prepare mainly sticky rice and other food items in advance and deposit a bit into each monk’s alm bowl as they process by. Everyone must be lower than the monks and never have eye contact or touch the monks. The monks take the offerings back to their wats and prepare their only meal of the day at noon. The citizens in turn receive blessings for their good deed of feeding the monks and hope that these deeds will add up to attaining Nirvana after a future life. Monks are of all ages. The career monks are in their 20’s and older. They are celibate. All boys 10 and older are expected to do a week to a month stint as a monk. This brings hugh blessings unto themselves and their family. The most devout Buddhist country we have visited was Myanmar (Burma). Her males are expected to be monks three times in their lives. Women also can be nuns. We saw many of all ages in their pink robes.