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20060111_P_0108
Morning alms ceremony

We had a bit of a change of plans when we woke on Tuesday. What was meant to have been a good night’s sleep last night in advance of a bus trip down to Vang Vieng turned out to be a restless night. Stef has been burning up with a bit of a temperature and rather than sitting on a bus for a few hours he really only wants to be sitting somewhere within running distance of a loo! Our alarm had woken us up and as we agreed to sit it out in Luang Prabang for another day I heard noises outside and went to have a look.

Around town we had seen, but not close enough up to be able to read them, small posters about Luang Prabang’s Alms giving ceremony and I think that is what was going on beneath our window. A little further down the street some of the local people were sat on low stools with bowls of rice in front of them. Walking in a long line one behind the other, were monks from the local temples, each with a large covered bowl slung in a loop of material over their shoulder. As they walked past the locals they lifted the lid off their bowl and the local people put in some rice.

The temples have no source of income other than donations so this must be one of their main sources of food. It is customary for young boys to spend some time as a monk before they settle down to marry so I suppose in some ways the donations of the local people are ensuring that their own children in the monastery get food to eat. A commercially minded lady who saw me watching motioned for me to come and buy some rice to give and I hate to say that I did. Some of the monks were happy to take the food I offered but others were not. I felt like a real fraud and worse than that felt ripped off when more and more was forced into my hands and then a huge bill was stumped up at the end. I would have preferred to give the money directly to the temple as I am sure the lady pocketed the profit and kept it for herself.

An early call to the tour company we had booked our bus tickets through cancelled our travel plans for today. Stef was definitely not himself and spent most of the day dozing and not really able to focus on anything. We decided to skip Vang Vieng and head straight for Vientiane tomorrow. The only downside was that by the time we had made it down to the tour agency to change our travel plans it was late afternoon and there were only seats on the evening plane, which meant another day in Luang Prabang on Wednesday. It probably worked out in our favour as by Wednesday I was also starting to feel under the weather. We spent most of the day in an internet café catching up on admin and as the day wore on I started to feel worse and worse.

We hopped in our tuk tuk to go to the airport for our flight to Vientiane. It was a tiny little place, again reminiscent of some of the smaller places we had been to in South America. As we waited for the plane to arrive my tummy rumbled away quite nicely and I looked forward to being in a hotel and near a loo at the other end! The flight was a short forty minute hop and before long we were in a taxi and off to the Inter City Hotel.

From the outside it did not look too great but our room is large and airy with lots of dark wood furniture and a hard wood floor. It has a comfy bed which I crashed into not longer after we checked in and, as with last night, we were glad to have HBO and Star Movies to keep us entertained.