Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Feeding alsm to the monks and hiking through REAL jungle
26 January - 2 February 2010
One of my hightlights of Laos is definitly feeding alms to the monks in Luang Prabang. It is 6 in the morning, rainy and dark when we get up to walk to the end of the street, where the monks walk by every morning with bare feet and their silver bowls to recieve food for the day. This is not only a ritual for the monks, the people that give the alms can recieve a blessing aswell, making it a good deal for everybody allround.
Getting to the street Holly and I were bombarded with locals trying to sell baskets of rice, bananas, little bushes of flowers, dried fish and other things that will please the monks. We end up bargaining for 2 bowls of rice and some bananas, it feels strange haggeling for holy-food meant for the monks, so we don't bargain very hard...
Despite the rain, the (sometimes very young) monks walk by in a long row. We have to sit lower than the monks, never pointing your feet in their direction while breaking pieces of sticky rice and a few bananas, dropping it into their bowls. Now and then I'm sure I see a dirty look on some of the young boys when I put the rice in the bowl with my bare hands, but maybe I just saw my own reflection of what I would think if I had to eat food touched by so many people.
Next to us sat a rich Laos family, dressed in expensive clothes and carrying delicious foods and bottles of water to give to the monks. They were dropped off by an expensive looking SUV with blinded windows and even had umbrellas against the rain. It goes to show, even the rich people need blessings now and then!
The next day we went temple hopping, buildings of which Luang Prabang is rich of. We saw many beautiful temples and statues, and even made a monk friend, Phetsamone. He invited us to join in their prayers later that evening, which was amazing! We sat in the back, listening to these young teenage boys chanting for half an hour, the colours, the sounds, the atmosphere is something I'll never forget! Afterwards Phetsamone asked if we could help him with his English homework, which was harder than we though, how do you explain the 'simple passive tense' or 'present perfect tense' or 'progressive continuous active tense'... we just kind of speak the language, it didn't help that he was learning it out of a Thai book instead of a Laos one...
After Luang Pranabng I met some people to do a hike up north in Luang Nam Tha. I bought a VIP bus ticket, which should have meant a seat in a minivan all for myself. I ended up sharing a 9 person minivan with 20 people and a baby. The man on my lap was pretty dirty and smelled like he'd never seen a real shower in his life. But with some tigerbalm under my nose, my i-Pod turned up to 11 and some beautiful scenery to look at it wasn't too bad (apart from the bus breaking down 2 times because we were too heavy, and we had to poor mineral water on the engine).
Anyway, the treck through the jungle and past the local villages was great! We bought some school things (paper, pens, pencils, books) to give to the children in the villages, which was accepted with many smiles and thanks. We were invited to stay with the villagers in a specially made hut for trecking groups. They cooked us dinner, we swam in the river behind the village and played with the kids. The walk to and from the villages I will never forget, I had no idea that jungle could be so big! Bamboo plants over 20 m's high arching over our paths, the leaves of wild banana trees seeping through patches of green light, streams with fallen trunks over them, left over from previous storms, the loud chirps and singing of birds, wild roots taking over treetrunks and spiderwebs shining in the sun. It was breathtaking and I was photo-taking, I think jungles are my new favourite thing! Now off to my next adventure: The Gibbon Experience!!
Geplaatst door Saffron op 12:32 PM