Friday, December 22, 2017

Luang Prabang Early Morning Alms Giving

Day 2 (11 November 2017) Saturday

I woke up early at 4:00 a.m. It was still too early to go out to observe the alms giving by Buddhist devotees and decided to record down my Day 1 activities before I forget the cost and time.

At 5:30 a.m., I left my room. The door was still shuttered. The receptionist who was sleeping in the living room with her child woke up to open the door for me.

My destination was Sisavangvong Road which I read on the web is where the alms giving takes place (This is not true. It is actually at Sakkaline Rd).

However, I saw small groups of alms givers waiting at the pavement at Chao Fa Ngum Road near the oval Phothisarath Rd/ Chao Fa Ngum Rd roundabout. While taking some photos, I saw a group of monk coming from the nearby temple to collect their alms.

It was too dark to capture good photos. I continued to walk along Chao Fa Ngum Road to Sisavangvong Road. Small groups of alms givers, almost all of them tourists were interspersed along the whole stretch of Chao Fa Ngum Road to the Open Air Market at Sisavangvong Road.

In the town, I saw vans parked bumper-to bumper on both sides of Sisavangvong Road. Then, I saw people loitering and milling about at the end of Sisavangvong Road/ beginning of Sakkaline Road (N19.89327° E102.13884°).

The entrance to Sakkaline Road was blocked. It was approaching 6:00 a.m. and daylight was breaking.

As I mingled with the crowd, I realised that the rows of alms givers were almost all tourists. Most of the Asians tourists were Koreans. They came by the van loads. There was hardly anyone who resembled the look of a local.

The visitors were not showing signs of respect to this noble event. The few locals looked sombre, forlorn, focused, hardly moved and quiet and used their fingers to pinch morsels of rice for the monks, whereas the tourists, mainly the Asians, would be looking at their smart-phones,  looking left and right, active, unfocused and used spatula to serve the monks. Disgusting!!

The alms giving had been hijacked. Nevertheless, I stayed for a while to observe the monks collecting the alms and giving them away when their bowls filled up.

Genuine alms giving is no longer happening at Sisavangvong/ Sakkaline Road. I observed that the monks left their temple at about 5:30 a.m. so it may be a good idea to observe them at the temple entrances instead of going to Sisavangvong Road/ Sakkaline Road.

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