Luang Prabang – Alms

Every morning around dawn, the monks of Luang Prabang walk the street accepting alms from believers (and increasingly from tourists.) Apparently they have been doing this for a long, long time, but it has been becoming more and more of a tourist spectacle and the monks are thinking about stopping. (Though apparently the Lao government threatened to have laypeople perform the ritual for tourists if the monks stopped.)

We woke up early to see the ceremony. I, along with dozens of other tourists, brought my camera. There were signs up all over town asking photographers to maintain a respectful distance, and not to use flash – not to many people were paying attention to that, but I tried my best to stay well clear, and I used only available light.

The whole thing, aside from being pretty, was fairly upsetting. We felt like we had become part of something exploitative and cheap, which was especially disappointing since it is clear that this is a very important observance for believers.

Later, we’ll be on the night train to Bangkok.

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