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Published: November 19th 2017
It was at 4am that we first heard them. The alarm was set for 5am but wasn’t needed. The drums to awaken the monks for prayer could be heard two blocks away. In the darkness we walked round the corner and only about 50 metres to the next corner where we waited for the daily procession of monks to come by to collect their rations of, mostly rice, from the local people.
Sticky rice has been prepared especially for the occasion and carried in small woven baskets.
Another bell signalled that they had left the nearby temple and shortly, out of the gloom, appeared a line of bright orange, each monk carrying a leather and stainless bowl with a lid and held by the side with a shoulder strap. Into this the locals put a small handful of sticky rice which is shared out when the monks get back to the temple. Monks come from about 20 local temples. A senior monk, who has two shoulders covered, heads the line of monks for his temple, followed by the novices who have one shoulder bare. Boys as young as 10 were novices. It is a good way for a boy
to get an education and learn English. Two guides we have had were monks for 10 years. So in their early 20s they can decide to become a real monk or to leave and further their education.
It was a surreal and serene time as all was completely silent as the line of orange robes passed by into dawn and daylight. This happens every morning and is the only way monks get their food, although some families will deliver other food such as soup directly to the temple.
It was definitely worth the early morning rise to experience.
After breakfast we did a walking tour of the town which was feasible as it’s not that big, being on a peninsula where the Nam Khan River merges with the Mekong. Two more beautiful and interesting temples as well as the National Museum were highlights. The latter being the former Royal Palace as Luang Prabang used to be the capital city. It was just as it was when the last king, in his 60s, was sent away in 1975 to be re-educated. His cars, one a Ford Edsel, were still in the garage.
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