In and around Luang Prabang
Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
147Trip End May 30, 2013
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What I did
Tad Thong Waterfall
We'd spent a bit of time debating about what to do with our time here
When we arrived, there was a bit of a holiday celebration for those who work there. They had just finished the Baci cerimony (so sad to have missed that) and were having a blessing from some monks. Someone came over and offered us some Lao Lao while someone else was tossing candies and nicely folded notes of money in a way that reminded me of 'scrambles' when I was younger, only here it was the adults playing! Another was cooking up an amazing smelling buffet.
The waterfall was not the most spectacular we've seen, but it had a wonderful jungle walk that led around to several more little waterfalls (probably much more spectacular in the rainy season). It was a beautifully cared for place that deserves a bit of a promotion to keep going. I just hope it doesn't get too overwhelmed or it will loose it's charm.
Also went to see the alms giving ceremony. This touching ceremony takes place every morning where a street fills with people giving food to the monks (since they cannot buy or prepare food for themselves). I love the idea of this and saw the same idea repeated in Ethiopia by the monks there
What was even nicer, was that on the way back (the monks pass one way and then return the same again), the monks had more food than they could carry (or eat) and began giving it to some of the poorer people. One woman came with a small container of sticky rice, carefully doling out small handfulls so there would be enough for all the monks, and left with a large carrier basket full of food. What a wonderful lesson on giving!
The only thing that dampened the spirit was the tourists :( Now I know people don't like how I'm negative about this, but come on! Standing on the street a few feet away from the monks and givers, jumping about with a camera flashing in their faces? Rude any time, but especially during a religious ceremony. I read some literature specifically asking people not to do this to help preserve the sanctity of the event. They made a good parallel with Christian communion. Imagine some foreigners coming to a church and standing in the isles taking photos of people participating? Or worse still, participating and having their buddies take their picture while they pose (which happens in the alms giving in Luang Prabang). But I guess a lot of people don't respect the religious beliefs of their own cultures, so why would they someone else’s? A few days later on our way to the Customs office in Laos we saw a much more authentic alms giving. Not a tourist town, the few tourists that were there were sleeping in their beds and it was just Thai people doing what is important to them.