Every morning around 5am, the monks in Luang Prabang walk down the main street to collect alms (their food for the day). Pious locals line the sidewalks with sticky rice, crackers and fruit to donate. We came to watch, but when a seemingly kind Lao woman gave us some rice to donate we were happy enough to participate. We would read later that tourists are often enticed to hand out rice from enterprising locals who then ask for compensation 10-20x what the donated food is worth. Sure enough, that's what happened! As it turned out, giving food away was one of our most expensive single activities on the trip. We felt it was a deserved punishment; there is nothing worse than ignorant tourists!
We reflected on our minor mishap during meditation later that night with our new-found friend Winni and his fellow orange-clad monks (see previous post). The nightly ceremony followed an hour-long schedule, beginning with 30 minutes of chanting the Buddhist teachings/history and ending with 30 minutes of silent meditation in the candle-lit temple. The best part was the end, when the Abbot turned to us and let us ask him questions about Buddhism and his monastery. It was a fantastic intro to their fascinating lifestyle and religion!
We spent the rest of our last day hiking around a huge waterfall outside of the city. Here are a few pictures: