Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Millions of Monks

After our stop in Vang Vieng, we took a bus north to Luang Prabang, our last stop in Laos. It is a beautiful city, everything is really nice compared with what we've seen on our previous stops. The whole town lights up at night with lanterns and fairy lights, because the main thing to do, when you are not occupied with temples and monks, is go to the night market. There were so many amazing things to buy! It was hard to resist not grabbing everything, but my backpack definitely limited my purchasing ability. The food was great at the market, too. There was a vegetarian buffet for very little money that served up amazing veggies and noodles, which we washed down with fresh-fruit-and-coconut-milk-shakes. Mikaela and I indulged ourselves with some of the great inexpensive massages. And the best part of all is that an evening of shopping, eating, and getting an hour massage all cost less than my portion of the bill at an average restaurant back in Seattle, including my part of the guest house bill for the night. We were living the high life in Luang Prabang, for sure. One of the coolest things we saw was the monks receiving their morning alms. They line up at dawn and receive food from the villagers that they eat later in the day. It is so amazing to see a line of brilliant saffron robes drift down the road. Unfortunately, Mikaela and I could only stomach the beautiful procession once. Many of the tourists are entirely disrespectful of the manners and traditions the Laos people have regarding monks, and swarmed upon them like visitors at a people zoo with complete disregard to the fact that they were interrupting the procession and embarrassing themselves and every other westerner present. I actually scolded a German couple next to us, Mikaela and I were in utter disbelief that people could have such blatant disregard for proper conduct. And ignorance was no excuse, the town has posters up everywhere urging tourists to follow a few simple rules around the monks. So while it was an almost magical way to start the day, we only went once. We did see a few more temples and went to visit an immense and beautiful waterfall. On one of our last days in the city, we rented bicycles and took them out of the city through the rice paddies, which was a lot of fun. I will finish the Laos photo album soon, because my pictures are better than my words could be for many of the things we saw. I did manage to complete the Vietnam photo album, the same link in the Ha Long Bay post takes you to the updated album.

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