11. March 2018 22:03
by Rene Pallesen

Monks - Laos

11. March 2018 22:03 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

Religion is an integral part of Laos society where the majority are Budhists.
Religion is an integral part of Laos society where the majority are Budhists.

The monks dressed in orange and red ropes are still visible everywhere and it is largely seen as becoming a novice (junior monk) is seen as an opportunity to get an education and support your family if you come from a poor rural area.


The high influx of tourists, especially to Luang Prabang is therefore a bit of a win-win situation for everyone. The tourists support the temples in the area by paying their admission fees to visit and on both my trips I have found that the monks are keen to have a conversation as it is a way of practicing their language skills.

In Luang Prabang the monks walk in procession every morning to collect rice from worshipper along the roads. Before sunrise there are hundreds of monks walking the streets in every direction. There is an equal horde of tourists trying to take photos of these monks and equally tourists handing out (sometimes dubious) rice to them.

There are posters around the city encouraging being there and seeing the monks as well as providing some guidelines such as keeping a certain distance, not using flash photography and if you hand out rice then where to get it from. Most of it common sense really, so it was sad to see how some would be blocking the paths and sticking their camera phones with flashes into the monks faces.

Sacha and I went there a couple of mornings, but because of the time of the year everything was dark and because the monks move quite fast through the streets it was a challenge getting good shots.

One afternoon we walked past a temple and a group of monks were in progress of cutting down a large tree and afterwards trimming off the branches. They were going to use some of the tree trunk for traditional drums and the rest for ornamental purposes inside the temple.

In the late afternoons you would hear them chanting in the small rooms of meditations, chanting and prayer. These are often smaller places of worship and not part of the main temples which are used for more ceremonial purposes.
One evening I heard such chanting and went to investigate and found these monks. Definitely one of my favourite moments in Luang Prabang.

A common assumption and misconception is that the monks live by an ancient code with a simple life, so it is quite interesting to see that even they have adopted modern technology with smart phones and cameras.

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