3. Luang Prabang

I reached Luang Prabang at the clumsy hour of 3am. The bus was supposed to be from 10pm – 5am i think, but somehow we waited for an hour, and reached much earlier than we expected.
I hardly slept anyway, with that bus rocking down the road tripping over the holes. The backpackers woke up clumsily at the wee hours of the morning.
We wanted to share a tuktuk to a hostel, but it was obviously overpriced so the other guys said they’d walk, and we followed. The driver then slashed the price by half, we shook our heads and walked on. As we continued walking they slashed the prices further. Still we walked on, it wasn’t really far. I think we also quite enjoyed the cool breeze of the night, and chatting along the way. I still remember the Columbian couple, and how excited I felt. I honestly think that I feel excited whenever I encounter associations with South America, I think that dopamine that was released during my trip has successfully allowed my brain to associate South America / Spanish with excitement / happy emotions, which probably explains why I love listening to Spanish songs and studying Spanish and watch tv shows. I really think so! Powerful chemicals in the brain

UNESCO World Heritage site of old town Luang Prabang!

The alms-giving ceremony is one of the most significant aspects of my time here. Early morning 5+am the locals start preparing food offerings for the monks, and can be seen along the streets.

The influence of tourism is highly apparent. (hmm, geog fieldtrip? it’s such an observable impact……)

When we went to the street, locals approached us asking us to buy the sticky rice and offerings for the monks. I had read about it, but I was surprised to see how many ‘stalls’ they were lined along the street. Maybe it’s not all for selling to tourists, but I was nonetheless surprised to see just how many tourists there were. (though i guess i shouldn’t be that surprised, it’s one of the top things on tripadvisor to do)

Tour groups with tour guides brought their tourists here as well. I took this picture, which seemed like a tour guide explaining to the tourists what they should do later when the monks come, and how to present their offerings. Some tourists take picture of each other with their food offerings.

It’s not a bad thing, cultural immersion in local customs. It’s good I suppose, expanding their cultural understandings. Yet I wondered how the monks felt, with these cameras waiting to take their pictures as they had their food offerings. The scene felt a little… commoditized, ‘staged authenticity’

Were they annoyed at the tourists? Or pleased because there’s more food offerings now (presumably)?  Both

It would be interesting to speak to one of them, but of course i had no such chances

 

there were also other monks (in robes of other colours) who excitedly took photos of each other during the food offering, and i saw one requesting for a photo with the monk. it’s cute to see, well, monks holding their smartphones taking pictures. (cause of my stereotype of monks i suppose)

also interesting that monks from (presumably other countries?) coming to see this scene too.

 

wet and dry season
fresh market

 

 

night market

 

 

 

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