Today we had another quiet day in Luang Prabang. We have both had colds, and Noel is still coughing well, though improving, so we were grateful for the rest. In the morning, Clare got up early to watch the alms giving ceremony, this time from a much quieter spot in the Old Quarter of Luang Prabang. The first week we arrived, we had gone to the best known Wat to watch this, but had been shocked by the number of tourists taking invasive flash photos. Getting up in the dark before dawn in the Old Quarter was a haunting, and much more peaceful experience. When dawn came, there were around 6 local people kneeling by the road to offer the monks food. A small handful of tourists watched respectfully from a careful distance without disturbing the ceremony. Over 60 young monks walked barefoot along the road, their orange robes vivid in the early light. It was especially nice to see the young monks, aged around 7 or 8, some of whom we had come to recogise from the local Wat where we have been for evening prayers a few times now. They alternate between being very solemn and very giggly.
Each year, in the dry season, two bamboo bridges are built across the river. We have been watching them being built on our runs each morning, by a local family working from small boats, with very basic hand tools. Today one was finally finished. We crossed over to explore the other side of the river, a long awaited event which gave us great pleasure.
In the evening, we went back the Wat for evening prayers, as we have done before. It was a beautiful scene. Imagine a graceful red gold building, golden statues, many lit candles shining and the young monks in their saffron robes chanting. A few local people joined them also, all of us kneeling on the floor and we felt made welcome, despite not knowing the language. We didn’t take a photograph as we wanted to respect the service, but hope you can imagine it instead!