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Luang Prabang ::: Laos

LAOS | Tuesday, 17 February 2009 | Views [523]

Ahhh …the holy feeling city with all the monks and wats.  What a beautiful city it is.  I am in love with it.  We arrive late night and Mike and El have got us a room but there was only one left so the 4 of us have to share for one night.   Here the city closes down at around 10 some places 11.  So when we arrive it is pretty quiet here.  The first morning we are here I go shopping because here they have loads of fabric.  I ended up getting some get stuff for really really cheap.  While walking around Mikey and I go into a Wat and end up talking to the young boys studying to become Monks.  We get chatting for a long time and get invited into their rooms.   While talking they tell us that they chant every evening at 5:30 and we are welcome to join them.   They then ask if we would like to come help them learn English in there class.  Mikey and I jump at the opportunity.  So at 5:30 we are in the Wat kneeling with them while they are chanting, it is so beautiful the sound I find myself meditating to it.  On our way to the wat we meet Vanessa in the streets and tell her what we are doing and she joins us.  After an hour of chanting we head with the boys to school and end up teaching the class.  It was the most fun I have had.  It was so wonderful to interact with them.  After class we sat around talking to them and found out some things.  Monks as I am sure everyone knows shave their heads and eyebrows.  Now they actually do this as a group once a month.  To start to study to become a monk you must be 12 yrs old you are not considered a monk until you turn 18 or 20 yrs old.  Most of these kids have started studying because they live out in villages and the villages only have primary school and not secondary so their only choice to continue their studies is to go study as a monk.  They study 14 different subjects a day.  Their days begin at 4:30 to chant, then they go at 6:30 to collect alms (which all the monks in the area walk the streets in the am and the locals give rice and other food to them, it is actually so peaceful and beautiful to watch), then off to study for the day, dinner, more chanting at 5:30 then class again, then bed.  When asking them if they like study to be a monk one boy shouts out,  “it is boring at times cause we do the same thing everyday!”  I loved his honesty.  Most of these kids will be studying for 4-7yrs not continuing on to become a monk.  We had such a great class with them that we are going to come back again this time we get to create the lesson plan.  After our school time with the boys we go to the night market….danger danger danger…..LOL  
For the next four nights I will go to the school and teach the monks.  During the day I go to their Wat and hang with them…give them one on one English lessons sometimes just hang chat and laugh a lot.  The monks carry these bags around with them that I love so one of the boys I hang with has told me he will take me to get one.  So one day I go to meet him during his study break and we walk to get a bag for me.  He and other monk that I see each night at school head out and they take me thru all these ally ways that I would have never have been down, thru a couple of different Wats till we get to the monk store.  Now the bags that they use usually have some lao writing on the front and the ones that we saw did not.  So we decide that I will buy the new bag and he and I will switch bags.  He tells me his is old and the zipper is broke but I don’t care I would rather have his and he have a nice new bag.  I also end up buying them both new nice hard cover notepads for class.  I love hanging with them.  Later on I go back to the paper store and pick up a stack of notepads and a box of pens to bring with me to school for the rest of the group.  While in class they ask my why they have not seen me giving alms I tell them I have been out but have not seen them either they then tell me where they walk and I am to try to see them tomorrow.  I ask them what they like to get and they tell me that they get the same thing all the time (rice, bananas, ramin noodles) and a treat would be nice.  I ask them what they would want they say something like mango.  I tell them a mango is pretty hard to give to about the 300 monks who walk around every morning so they tell me I can just bring it to there Wat at the end of the collections.  So the next morning I am out at 6am getting mangos to give to my friends.  I do not partake in the giving to all the monks I just sit in the background taking some pictures without disturbing.  It saddens me to see so many westerns up in their faces taking photos with flash.  There are signs all around to please respect this ancient ritual by not standing close (like stay across the street people) not to use flash and not to get in the way….i thnk I lot of western should go back to school and learn how to read…cause I would hate to believe that they are all that selfish.  After taking some photos I go to their Wat to see if they are there yet and run into one of the boys from class who did not have to collect today sweeping and give the fruit to him.  I go outside and sit on the stairs to watch some more monks walk by.  Finally I see my boys when they see me they all start to smile.  I go back into their Wat with them and actually put two of the mango's in their tins they carry to collect the alms.  They are smiling and I wish them a great breakfast and tell them I may come by later today to say hello they say they would love for me to.  So now each day I look forward to going and sitting with my new friends..   In the afternoons after hanging out is when I go tour around luang prabang one day I went to a Buddha cave.  It has thousand of Buddha statues inside.  I also go to the waterfalls.  From here I will head north and do some trekking.

Before going north for trekking we decide to do a day trip to the waterfall.  We go pick up two novices (monks in training) Thai and Wy that are coming with us.  Wy is from the village by the waterfall so we stop to see his family on the way.  We meet his brothers and mother.  We then go spend the afternoon relaxing in the water.  On our return from the waterfall we again stop by to see his family.   This time dad is home and he breaks out the lao lao for us which is homemade lao wiskey.  We enjoy this with him.  Later Wy tells us that his family would like to bless us before we go.  It is called a baci ceremony. Well this ends up being the most amazing thing that I have been a part of since I have been on the road.  They call all the elders from the village to come and join in the ceremony.  We are prayed over by all the villagers and then we enjoy a wonderful meal from them.  Each one of us after goes and gives something to Wy’s father thanking him for such a blessing.  All I have with me are my stones and some American dollars so I leave him with one of my stones and a dollar.  This was truly a blessed amazing night.  It will forever be in my heart mind and soul.

The next day we go to the river to swim and thankfully tasha was at the ceremony.  Tasha or her real name Wang Tang Fang is not the best swimmer and while we are all riding the current I look back and do not see her.  I ask out loud where is Tash and then we all see this hand waving from under the water Mike swims over and rescues her.  Thanks God she is ok and that I looked back when I did.  Later we find out that two boys have just dies in the river one a few days ago and one a couple of weeks ago because of the current. With that Tash sits on the shore.  She is such a sweet girl I am so glad she is ok.
our class

our class

 

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