Four of our group woke up at 5:30 this morning and headed into town to participate in morning alms. All of the monks from all the temples in the area line up and walk around town to receive their food for the day. We stopped along the way to purchase some sticky rice to give to the monks. It’s quite a sight to see hundreds of monks lined up along the streets in their saffron robes carrying bowls to receive their alms. There were lots of Westerners taking pictures of the procession, but not too many offering alms.
While we were waiting for the monks, we chatted with a young fellow kneeled down beside us. He said that he comes out once or twice a month to make an offering. He said that Lao people believe that you are really making an offering to your deceased relatives when you are giving alms to a monk. When the monks came by and opened their bowls, we tossed in a bit of rice for each one. Some people were giving chocolates and some oranges, but whatever they collected was what they ate for the day.
Even though a lot of the humble spirituality has been lost due to tourism, it was really quite an experience.
After morning alms, we headed back to the hotel to grab our bags before heading to the airport. We hopped a quick flight to Vientiane. Even though it’s the capitol, it’s got a sleepy feel. I’m really beginning to love Lao and the pace at which it operates. We stayed in a hotel right next to the Mekong and while it was sufficient, the bathroom smelled like a sewer and our window looked directly into the back wall of the next building. It was comical that they would even put a window in.
We headed down along the river for another great dinner. Sitting on straw mats overlooking the river. The food had simply been amazing so far on this trip and most of it has come from places I would overlook at home. Thankfully Simon eats like a horse and has great taste, because so far the food has been stellar.