November 18, 2020
4:45 am. The alarm clock rings. We slowly get up and go to the town. On the way we buy boiled rice in a basket, and cookies with bananas. We are sitting on the sidewalk and wait, it is almost 6:00 am. They are going! We can see them from afar, marching in a row along the sidewalk. They are barefoot. Barefoot and dressed only in their traditional orange robes. Each of them has a basket in their hand. They pass by us. Slowly. We put a handful of rice and cookies into each basket, making sure there is enough for everyone. We do not talk to each other; we do not meet their eyes.
We just took part in a ceremony that takes place in Luang Prabang every day. Local monks come out of their temples every morning to ask people for food. This is what the rules dictate. Whatever they collect, it is their only food. Sometimes they have enough for two meals each, and sometimes they must be content with just one meal. The first meal is just after the ceremony, and the second meal is around noon. They eat nothing for the rest of the day, until the next day. It was a nice and interesting experience. Unfortunately, a bit spoiled by other tourists. Monks must feel strange doing it in the light of camera flashes. We do not take pictures; we did not take part in it to brag about it in the pictures. But to experience it personally and to put it in words.
So, we started our day early. This is not the end of attractions for today. In a few hours, together with the British girls we met earlier, we are going by tuk-tuk to the nearby waterfalls. The first one is quite close. To get there we must take a boat on the river. The waterfall turns out to be a genuinely nice place. It is not a high-water drop, but a collection of several dozen small cascades along which clean water flows. In some places lagoons with a beautiful turquoise water have been created. We do not miss the opportunity and take a bath, swimming and jumping from the higher steps. After one of these jumps, right after surfacing, our companions shouted, waving, and pointing their hands in one direction. Oh god! Elephant! He goes down to the water, to the same lagoon in which we swim. Unfortunately, the elephant is in human captivity, it serves as a tourist attraction where you can ride it. We do not like it, as well as the elephant who leaves behind a few “surprises” in the water, thus ending our fun.
The second waterfall is located 32 kilometres from the city. It runs down in a beautiful and well-kept park. It is different than the previous one. At the beginning, there are a few smaller cascades, with turquoise lagoons already known to us. A bit further, a huge waterfall humming from a distance, several dozen meters high. The water hits the rocks with great force, spraying a refreshing breeze. We climb, going through the jungle, to the very top of the waterfall, where the flow of the river breaks by 90 degrees. The views are beautiful. We are standing at the very edge. At the bottom you can see a lagoon surrounded by lush greenery. On the way back, we jump into the water and enjoy the local attractions. It is a rope suspended from a tree leaning over turquoise water. The fun is great, we play like little kids 🙂
The next day is our “rest” day, i.e. we have nothing planned. Mainly walking around the city. But first we march to the bus station, located 3 kilometres from the centre. The weather is good. The sun comes out from behind the clouds. At the station, we buy bus tickets for tomorrow, to go to Vang Vieng.
We spend the rest of the day in pointless wandering around this beautiful city. There are many small streets here, attracting the eyes of passers-by. You can walk for hours. And if you add iced coffee or fresh-baked pancakes to this, it can take up to a week. Not to mention the atmosphere and tranquillity here. Ah, it is a shame to leave this place.
“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” – Anita Desai