Meeting a Monk in Luang Prabang

Unfortunately today my cold has made me feel a bit weak and fatigued so I took it easy today (I got something from a pharmacy here that’s got the same ingredient as Sudafed). I walked around a bit in the morning and didn’t feel too good so I returned to my room to lay down for a bit a couple of times. Since then it’s been a pretty low key day.

In the afternoon I visited yet another very old Wat, this one built in 1530 (I think) and off the main street, where many of them are. Inside, I spent over an hour talking to a novice monk (he was 19) who was, as many of them are, eager to practice his English. I learned a lot about Buddhism and we had a great conversation. He walked around the Wat explaining to me about all the different Buddha symbols (as there are many different positions and they all mean different things). Many of the Buddha images were centuries old. He also invited me to his quarters to give me on of those wristbands for good luck and safe travels.

Wat Visoun Stupa
A stupa at Wat Visoun

It was amazing to see how incredibly simple the monks lived. Literally it was just a room. First off the housing building was also almost 500 years old, and hence in pretty bad shape. It was a tiny wooden room that he shared with another novice monk. They slept on the floor–he told me that some monks elsewhere sleep on beds, but the room was so small that they didn’t have enough space for beds! They had no posessions and all there was in the room other than a pillow and some orange robes, was a clock and some artwork he had done and some markers.

Wat Visoun Window
A decorative window at Wat Visoun

Tomorrow I was thinking about possibly getting up early to see the Morning Alms at 6 AM, when all the monks proceed down the main street with their bowls and the people put food in their bowls–this is the only food monks get. He was telling me that they only eat two meals, both before noon (after that, just water). He was explaining that the monks only eat enough to stay alive. They’ve also got a very long day. He said they always get up at 4 AM and usually sleep around midnight!

Anyways, tonight I got myself a ticket to see the Royal Ballet (at the Royal Palace). Supposedly they do some traditional Lao performances and scenes from the Ramayana. Should be interesting. Tomorrow I was contemplating going to the Pak Ou caves, the ones filled with Buddha images, and perhaps the waterfall as well. We’ll see how I’m feeling. The transportation to get to them is a little pricey (by Lao standards) and it seems cheaper to go on one of the many tours advertised around town. That of course has its downside, but it would be cheaper.

Ramakien Performance
A performance of the Ramakien

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