I had the good accident of staying across the street from Wat Choumkhang at the Sala Prabang hotel ( which I highly recommend.) The gardens are lovely, with flowering trees, and several good and unusual statues. Monks and teenage novice monks live together here, and academic classes are taught daily.
Through ot the day the pulse of temple life flashes before you as the monks,dressed in bright orange robes, tend the garden, rush to their classes and hang out their laundry to dry.
Wooden and metal gongs are struck to call the monks to the main temple for meditation, prayers and chanting. Every evening at 6pm they gather in the temple to Chang. Local villagers and tourist sit outside the temple, respectfully, to listen. In th morning at 6:15 am, a wooden gong is struck to summon the monks to assemble for the procession to gather alms.
While walking through the garden, I was asked by a teenage novice monk, with a shaved head, to join his fellow classmates for a conversation. They wanted to practice their English. All of the boys were from small farming villages, and they became novice monks for an education, their equivalent of high school. One of the boys asked to correct his pronunciation as a he read aloud in English from his textbook on US culture and history, which was better than what I had read in High school in the US. All of the boys would leave the monastery within two years. Some hoped to work in tourism, one wanted to go back to his village to teach English.
Over the next several days, as I walked through the temple back to my hotel, I saw these young monks washing their clothes, and being teenage boys, engage in the pranks teenage boys around the world engage in, throwing buckets of water on each other, with quiet laughter .
Visit this Wat without the urge to find the perfect tourist photo, but to experience temple life, which is a vital part of daily life in Luang Prabage.
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