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“Early morning in Luang Prabang”

Alms Giving Ceremony
Reviewed December 28, 2012

the alms giving ceremony was held right outside our guest house. We decided not to get up to watch it for the first couple of days as we needed to sleep however we could still hear what was going on! One morning we heard loud gongs and chanting at about 4am. seemingly this happens periodically. I'm not complaining, makes a change from karaoke or other loud disturbances! On our last morning in Luang Prabang we were up early anyway and saw the ceremony. it was lovely to watch, lots and lots of people. One lady insisted my husband join in and handed him some banana leaf parcels to give to the monks. I got lots of great photos of him. Later, of course, we had to pay her! Enterprising I suppose!

Thank cherylbhutch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 26, 2012 via mobile

We got up like really really early to watch the parade. They should do it again in the afternoon. It was so nice to see so many people from all over the world come to feed the monks at Xmas, such a holy time. Made me feel like we are all one. Its a bit quiet, some happy music would add to the spectacle. Everyone was taking great pictures and my friend Kylie wanted her picture with a cute monk but this was not allowed. An old woman gave us some food to donate, which was so kind. Then she wanted money but we didnt have any change so Kylie went to get the food back but all the monks look the same. Anyway it didn't look very tasty, we should of brought a bagett from the hostel.

Thank buieboy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 26, 2012

Dawn and murmured voices down at street level in the grey morning light... People are readying themselves for the alms walk which the monks make each morning. Our balcony looks out onto the street, we make tea, we wait and watch and listen and here they are, these calm people, coming down the street in silent single file, some so young they are almost staggering with sleepiness. Most are young adults, but all have shaved heads, an impassive expression and grace. They are draped and dressed in bright orange, many with an intricately folded yellow sash at their waist, all with dusty golden skin and an alms pot slung over their right shoulder. 

On the street, people kneel on mats offering food to the passing monks. In a very neat, swift movement, an exchange of food takes place between offerer and monk; the offerer dips into their bowl of rice, selecting a small ball and transferring it into the metal alms-bowl, the lid of which is opened and closed quite smoothly, almost without ceasing the forward momentum of movement... all in single file, silently, unhurriedly but without pause.

Most disconcerting are the tourists, of which we are part. Here in our beautifully appointed hotel, there are rooms downstairs which open onto the street as their inhabitants watch the monks filing past; and the monks, in turn, stare at the rooms displayed, many of the monks looking back over their shoulder at the spectacle. The opulence of the rooms in contrast with the simplicity of the barefoot monks’ existence is striking even to me, who has only just entered this country... how must the monks feel about it, when confronted every morning? It is truly ridiculous, crazy.... but the strangeness doesn’t end there.

All along the street tourists stand with their expensive cameras click click clicking away as if they are photographing a spectacle.... and the spectacle is life itself, given the monks survive entirely on these daily donations of food and whatever they grow themselves. So we are the observers, and we are recording the participants... and, to me, it represents the larger life of the spirit. Spirits briefly participating in a physical existence for the purpose of experience and, in the process, having the opportunity to not only experience first-hand but also observe others having their own unique experience.

There is so much to reflect on in this very beautiful place without even leaving the hotel room. I have no desire to view the ceremony up-close at street level and I wish other tourists would stand back and leave the experience to the monks and those who offer them alms.... but the beauty and poignancy of the exchange will no doubt attract those with Nikons and Canons for ever more... plenty to think about in that fact alone.

Thank Karen S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 24, 2012

I've read that this is a bit touristy....but I saw who cares!!!!! The experience with my son was fantastic and well worth the early morning wake up. The monks rely on this food and gift for their entire day.

Thank Ryan B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 23, 2012 via mobile

I had a look this morning and left after a few seconds as I was shocked and appalled at the tourists' behavior and didn't want to contribute. Other reviewers have sufficiently described the rudeness and total lack of respect shown to the monks so I don't need to go into detail. I think it's probably best to skip this, and leave the monks in peace rather than treating them like a circus side show. If you do go have a look, please be quiet, stay a polite distance away, and don't use your camera flash!

2  Thank Cynthia J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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