The Colour Orange

Trip Start Jul 10, 2007
Trip End Mar 11, 2008

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Monks:  they are mysterious, spiritual and almost mystical.  Their presence in a town is always comforting.
In Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, they are part of the scenery.  Men/boys, at some point in their lives, all have to belong to a Wat (temple) and learn to live as a Buddhist Monk.  Some choose to stay longer than the required 3 months and become the Leaders.  The life of a monk is very humble and some live in the most remote areas.  From the many questions that I have asked English "ish" speaking people, this is what I have gathered.

A typical monk's and novice's day begins very early around 4:00 AM for the first prayer and meditation of the day.   Prayers are 4 to 5 times daily.  As dawn breaks, they beat a wooden gong called a kalore.  In Luang Prabang, it instructs the monks to line up before they collect offerings in the street
During the morning, around 11:00, the kalore is struck again to signal the villagers to bring more offerings to the temple.  This is the second and last meal of the day. 
Between 4:30 to5:00pm ,  a small metal gong is sounded to invite locals to meditate and offer candles and flowers to the Buddha.
Around 5:00-6:00 pm, the evening chanting begins.  "Dodo" time is early and is preceded by more prayers.  Temples may vary their schedules.
In Luang Prabang  in Laos, the monks parade quietly (float) in the streets early in the morning, around 5:30 to receive food prepared by the women.  Boys as young as 5 years of age are part of the "défilé", dressed in the monk robes, and follow the strict routine.  Poorer families send their boys to the Wats to be fed and educated.  
The family was fascinated by monks and became very interested in their daily routine.  With great respect, we photographed them (allowed)  in Temples, talking on their cell phones, carrying brief cases,  walking under  their umbrellas, riding on motorbikes, praying... all wearing the very famous saffron orange wrap.
However, in Vietnam, bordering the South China Sea, we came across a very rare order or monks; very rare indeed.  I was able to catch a glimpse of one of them - even got him on camera.  Please enjoy the only existing film footage of one of these monks.
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