Monks and Markets

Trip Start May 20, 2010
Trip End Sep 05, 2011

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Where I stayed
Thanaboum Guesthouse

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Louangphabang,
Thursday, November 4, 2010


Day : 174
Temperature : 30 degrees daytime, 22 degrees night time
Weather : Still glorious blue skies and bright sunshine

Our alarm went off at 5.30am. Did we really want to get up? No, of course not. I was so warm and cosy and comfy in my soft bed, with soft pillows, and soft duvet. This had better be worth it! Wearily we got up, banged on the door so that we could get out. We were slightly perturbed to find that the staff had literally locked us in…and it was a big, solid, wooden door. God knows what would happen if there was a fire because we would have absolutely no means of escape. Fortunately, someone came to open the door and we ventured out onto the street. We bought some rice and some random substance wrapped in banana leaf. Crowds were gathering. It was looking promising that we might see some monks. Hopefully, we would get some good monk pictures.

Well, we did see some monks…..hundreds of monks! Every morning the locals (and tourists) give Alms to the monks. Basically, this is food. All the monks walk down the streets one by one, in silence, barefoot, holding bowls which they carry by means of a strap around their necks. They stop ever so briefly when they pass someone at the roadside, open the lid of their bowl and the person dollops some food into it. No words are exchanged. No eye contact is made. There were old monks, young monks, and everything in between. There were monks in bright orange robes, monks in mustard coloured robes, and novice monks with orange robes and yellow waistbands. There were monks as far as the eye could see. What an amazing sight. Within half an hour it is all over…and you are left thinking "where else in the world would I see something like this?" We took two hundred photographs in half an hour! Don't worry, we won’t bore you with all two hundred…maybe just a hundred!!

We spent the rest of the day relaxing, taking in the atmosphere of Luang Prabang. We walked around by the river and took some more photos, and mostly sat in one café or another until evening. Before dinner we took a wander around the night market…! Now, I am not really a serious shopping person, I tend to appreciate markets more for their great photo opportunities. But, this market was fabulous! I found it seriously difficult to hold back…I only bought one silk scarf and one necklace…..but I could have bought LOADS!! There was jewellery of all kinds, rings, bracelets, necklaces and ear-rings…ethnic  jewellery and modern jewellery. There were clothes….t-shirts, shorts, trowsers and skirts….adult clothes, childrens clothes…really, really pretty little skirts and dresses that would be soooo cute on some three little nieces! There were little hats…so many hats, and slippers! The cutest little slippers that you’ve ever seen…so warm and comfy! There were lanterns and lights, and room decorations that would look great in a childs bedroom. There were paintings and pictures, and wooden carvings and ornaments…bowls, masks, statues and so much more. I was drooling, Kevin was panicking! And scarves, oh so many beautiful scarves….every colour imagineable… thin scarves, thick scarves, textured scarves and smooth scarves, patterned scarves and plain scarves…..I had to have one! After all, It was going to be FREEZING in New Zealand wasn’t it!! And you know the nicest thing about this market….there was no stress. A little bit of haggling as you would expect. But there was no pressure and no rudeness and no pestering. Unfortunately, Kevin refused to go round again, claiming that he was hungry?! But I know he was really terrified that we were going to need another rucksack!!! Ah well, you can’t have everything I guess…..

The following morning we packed our bags and reluctantly said goodbye to Luang Prabang. What a great place though. We both loved it and it would definitely be one of the places we would love to come back to. But we needed to move on, and so we headed back to the bus station for our journey back to Vientiane. Thankfully, we have booked our seats, and made sure that we had good, comfy seats on the left hand side of the bus, together. It was, however, as if we were being karmically punished for some previous travelling misdemeanour, as when we boarded the bus we discovered that a). we were not sat together, and b). one of the seats did not recline and had barely any leg room!!!! It was going to be another long ten and a half hours….roll on Phuket!!!
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