They appear quietly in the mornings, wrapped in orange robes like slender pieces of fruit. Often, they move in small groups, a blotch of orange against a backdrop of white buildings. Sometimes, a lone l’homme d’orange wanders the streets carrying a cloth shoulder bag in which to store the alms he collects.
The monks survive on the charity of those around them. Most people give them rice. I saw the process unfold again this morning in Luang Prabang, an exquisite town in northcentral Laos nestled between the Me Kong and Nam Khan Rivers.
Luang Prabang has been inhabited for thousands of years and was the royal capital of the country until 1975 when the monarchy was toppled. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Luang Prabang is a favorite with tourists.
Strolling through this ancient town known for its many temples, it’s easy to see why. There’s a serenity and understated elegance about the place
One of the most notable temples in Laos is here. Built in the 16th century, Wat Xieng Thong, “monastery of the Golden city,” is the religious emblem of Luang Prabang as well as one of the highest symbols of Buddhism in Laos. It is architecturally stunning.
Wat Xieng Thong was the site of royal coronations, funerals and other matters of state during the monarchy.
The gilded doors are certainly fit for a king!
But I found the ornate paper lanterns hanging from the eaves just as exquisite.
Wat Xieng Thong also housed the royal crematory — which was essentially a giant urn — and funeral barge.
Temples aside, simply exploring all the side streets, sampling restaurants and perusing the shops in Luang Prabang is thoroughly enjoyable.
I’m glad John and I will be here for several days before heading to Vietnam. I’m already enchanted with this little jewel of a town!