Luang Prabang (4)

29 10 2009

Thursday 29th October 2009

phu si stairsHave you ever made that concerted effort to get up way before dawn and head off to a special place and watch the sun rise? I ask the question because it is a rare effort indeed for us but that’s what we did this morning. We thought we would kill two birds with one stone and visit the top of a hill around which the city sprawls and have some exercise in the cool of the day. Two simple goals you would think…Did we tell you that we have been enjoying sunshine and blue sky since we arrived in Luang Prabang? Putting that in measurements, we have to admit the fact that the temperature has been in the high 30s and the humidity into the low 90s! (That’s according to the BBC weather reports which seem to be the most accurate we can find here.)  We have come to really appreciate those moments between emerging from our air-conditioned room and when the perspiration begins – rarely more that a few minutes!


TukTuk ride home was starting to look good.

lotus shrine

Up the garden path in the dark.

Any way, back to this morning: After a 4.30 start we headed along the main street which was already coming to life with early risers preparing for the morning ritual of food offerings to give to the Buddhist monks. We then turned up the 400 odd steps that lead to the summit of ‘Phu Si’, a hill that is clearly visible from most ground-level points of the city. The irregular steps wind up the hill through a riotous green canopy of vegetation including palms, flame trees and frangipani. Not that we could see any of it on the ascent which we negotiated by torch light. Even with the relative cool of the morning, the humidity and the ascent had us bathed in perspiration with the first couple of steps. Arriving at the summit did not take us as long as expected so we had more than an hour to wait until the dawn. The encompassing view of the city lit up with street lights made it an inviting place to pray – not an original idea as the hill has several Buddhist temples dotted around it including one that tops the summit.  (Our prayers were cognisant of Micah 1:3 and Ps 50.10-11)

Sun rise, according to the BBC weather site, was supposed to be about 5 past 6. It may well have been somewhere and it could have been here – instead as the dawn gloom slowly brightened we were greeted by low ominous cloud and a shower of rain! Oh well, there’s always sunset! (On my very own according to Maree!)Monks-collecting-alms-at-dawn

Back down the hill and we witnessed the long stream of hundreds of Monks who weave along the street in their burnt sienna robes every day at dawn, walking barefoot and in silence around the town collecting alms from local people.

new guest house

Breakfast at our new Guest House. We moved to get internet connection but it moves with the speed of a lame limpet

Later in the day they can also be seen walking in the streets in ones or twos or small groups, often hiding from the sun under an umbrella. Many novice monks ‘take robe and bowl’ to have a chance to be educated, coming from very poor village families where they can be as young as 10 years old.




3 responses

30 10 2009

the monks certainly stand out in their colourful robes, interesting to read about their life makes one so thankful we live here…love mum

30 10 2009

Hi Maree and Roger,

An impressive effort to make the climb in the heat and humidity. It sounds a lot like Darwin weather which makes the effort considerably more challenging given our cooler Tassie weather. It sounds like a magic experience even if it did rain.

Keep safe,

31 10 2009
Roger and Maree

Hi Lesley,
I guess you can appreciate the warmth. Its a sort of love, hate relationship. Love it if your at the beach and got a breeze. Hate it if you’ve got to did a ditch – which thankfully we aren’t!
Roger and Maree

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