Saturday, September 24, 2011

Making Merit, Taking Photos

It was barely dawn, but the air was already thick with heat and humidity.  A long, silent line of barefoot monks in saffron robes snaked through the peaceful streets of Luang Prabang.  The faithful crouched alongside, doling out handfuls of sticky rice into each passing monk's bowl, bowing their heads and pressing their palms together in prayer after the last monk went by.
We even got in on the action.  Dave bought a container of sticky rice and seated himself amongst some local ladies who showed him the ropes.  I sat down across the street (it's respectful to be lower than the monks, and also to keep your distance if you're not offering alms) and took some photos (some of them are a bit blurry since it was still pretty dark out, but we didn't want the flash going off in the monks' eyes).
And then a crowd of tourists rushed the monks, cameras clicking, flashes bursting, jostling each other for the perfect shot of an age-old ritual of devotion.
Did I mention that Luang Prabang is plastered with signs like the one below?
Sometimes tourists really, really suck.

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