By far our favorite snack in Luang Prabang was the gooey coconut pancakes called khao nom ba ping. Made of coconut and rice, they were more like dumplings in consistency. Even better was watching the girls make them. It was ingenious though time consuming. They were so popular the poor things could not keep up with demand. We felt they should have raised their prices as you got about five of them for 2000 Kip (about twenty-five cents). They were worth a lot more but they were quite happy pumping them out for their waiting patrons.
Though not as popular as the coconut pancakes, these convenient little snacks were good if you were experiencing any stomach ailments. It was basically some preformed rice that was on a stick and roasted over an open fire. At only 1000 Kip (12 cents), how could you not try one?
Beer Lao has taken on somewhat of a cult status in the realm of Asian beer. Ultimately, I have to say I was a bit disappointed with the brew. It was a bit watery and bland but for a warm climate, it surely goes down well. My initial exposure to it was when I snapped this photo and as you can see, I was in love with it. It was hot out and we were walking around for hours. We found a shady café along the Khan River, on Thanon Kingkitsalat, and this stuff was cheaper (9000 Kip or a dollar for a big botte) than Coke. It might not be the best beer in the world, but better than Coke, it surely is. ;)
Monks are the most common view in Luang Prabang - there orange monk's habits can be seen in every street at almost every time of the day.
Most of the monks learn English and are more than happy to share their knowledge with you. For them, it's a great opportunity to get better English skills, for you, it's a great opportunity to learn about their life and traditions in the wats.
It really gives me no pleasure at all to write this tip as the behaviour of others made me feel ashamed to be a foreigner in this country, which I love. I will allow an entry from my blog and a photo to explain both what happened and my feelings about it. It regards a ceremony called Tak Bat.
Basically, the local people get out of bed at an appallingly early hour and sit at the side of the road with alms, generally in the form of rice. The monks, mostly the younger novices process barefoot and in silence through the streets stopping whilst people place their offerings in the bowls they carry on their shoulder and make obeisance to them, thereby gaining merit in the Buddhist way of thinking. Luang Prabang, although not the administrative capital is, to many Lao, the religious and cultural centre of the nation.
I went to the end of the street I am staying in (slightly out of town) and watched from the far side of the road as elderly ladies swept the streets in front of the boy monks and others sat on the side of the road reverently placing the gifts in the bowls and praying. At this tme of morning and this time of day the light was not good enough to take a photo without flash (see below) so I watched in awe as it unfolded before me.
This city is rightly proud of it's heritage and history and is very much at pains to explain politely to visitors how to behave both in wats and at this daily ceremony which is, after all, a religious service. Any guidebook will tell you how to behave in a Buddhist country, what to do and not do especially in respect of monks. I try, as best I can, to observe these things, although I am sure I am sure I transgress unintentionally on occasion. I hope not. Several of the strictures, if you are not aware, are these. You always act respectfully in the presence of a monk, women do not touch a monk or his robes, if a monk is sitting you either try and get your head lower than him or, if you are tall like me, hold your hands in a praying attitude to show respect. These are holy men / boys. Several of the specific things mentioned in the excellent Tourist Information Centre are not to get too close to the monks and not to use flash photography.
I decided to walk down to the centre of town where I knew there would be a lot of monks as the main concentration of wats is there. What I saw there disgusted and angered me in about equal measure. This solemn religious observance has been turned into a circus by tourists with no more concern for the sensibilities of the local populace than getting a good holiday snap to "show the folks back home". It was one of the most appalling things I have ever seen. It was like a papparazzi scrum on Oscars night and as one who has faced the papparazzi (ask me about it sometime, I was not the star attraction obviously) it was frenzied, and I use the word advisedly. Germans jostled with Japanese and Australians elbowed the French to see who could stick their huge lenses furthest into a 12 year old novices face and fire off a professional standard flash gun. It was nauseating.
The photo, which isn't very good, taken without flash and from a distance, shows the kind of thing these poor young men must have to endure every day. I am not a religious man although I find much in Buddhism to admire but I found this profane in the extreme. I would like to believe that these people are ignorant of the local customs but that would be niaive. Everyone here has a guidebook and nearly everyone has visited the Tourist Information Centre. What it is is not ignorance but sheer selfishness and a total lack of respect for what are our hosts. Not wishing to profane the ceremony further I said nothing although I would dearly have loved to show some of them the error of their ways.
Please show respect. It is not difficult and the people of Southeast Asia will forgive a lot as long as you make the effort. If you are not prepared to make the effort stay at home, your own countries probably deserve you more than the people here.
Ask yourselves a question. Would you wander into Canterbury Cathedral and stick a camera into Dr. Williams face when he was preaching? Stroll into a mosque in an Islamic country and point your Canon into the face of the Imam? Decide to go sightseeing in Jerusalem and start snapping the Chief Rabbi in the synagogue? I don't think so, and the consequences may be a lot more serious than with these basically peacable people. I appreciate that the Lao people want, indeed need, the tourist dollar but are we going to destroy the very things we came to see in the process?
I am sorry to sound so negative about this but it does not take much to respect the culture you have come to visit, so please do just that.
On Phu Si hill, I met 2 young guys. One is monk and one is the monk's friend.
We sat on the bench high up the hill, behind the temple.
You know, in Laos, whenever you see a coconut tree, there is a village. The monk said with his finger pointed in front. You see, this is Luang Prabang. He spoke in fluent english.
We can choose whatever we want to do. I want to be a monk. It gives me peace.
A mosquito flied by stop on the monks arm. He chased it off.
Ha you cannot kill. I laugh. Yea what will you do if the mosquito bite you?He asked. I will slap on it. I said.
This is a food which is relatively unique to Luang Prabang made from moss or seaweed - another product of the Mekong - season for making this is February to March, when we were there. The weed is collected from the river, cleaned and seasoned with salt, tomatoes and garlic - and set out on grass mats to sun dry. It can be eaten dried or deep fried and enjoyed with sticky rice.
I have eaten this a few times - as I've been fortunate enough to be there "in season" - and its beautiful - crispy fried, and lovely with a cold beer! A fairly mild flavour, more of a "chip" than anything else.
There are a lot of monks in LP. In Thailand, you can see the similar picture. However, the feeling is different in LP, as there is less car, less crowd, slower pace of life.
Monks can receive better education compare to other kids. At least for sure all monks go to school but not all kids. Most of them can speak good english.
Not every guy has to be a monk at least once in theri life time, this is different with Thailand. The rules are not so strict here, monk can chat with female. no problem.
Al amanecer salen los monjes de los templos y van por las calles de Luang Praban donde la gente les da lo que en ingles llaman "alm" , que consiste en darles arroz y alimentos que sera lo que coman los monjes ese dia
At down the monks come out fo the temples and they go by Luang Prabang streets where the people gives them , what in English are called , "alm" , that is a present in rice and food that will be the monks meals during the day
Para los amantes de la gastronomia hay un mercado a orillas del rio Mekong en el que se pueden ver cosas de lo mas curioso, desde frutas y verduras casi desconocidas hasta pitones , gusanos y todo tipo de pescados.
Desde luego la comida es un tema cultural y de costumbres
For the Gastronomy lovers There is a market in the river banks where you may see cery curious things , from fruits and vegetables nearly unknown for us , up to Piton , worms and all kind of fish
In fact food is a cultural and habits issue
Names of God ('Elohim, 'El, [`Elyon], Shadday, Yahweh; Theos):
"God is a spiritual essence, intelligent, eternal, true, good, pure, just, merciful, most free and of infinite power and wisdom."
Do we need so many of them? Isn't that One is powerful enough?
My goodness! I never know that Mr. Naga is so famouns one oh!?
Some may think that Naga is just a sidekick, but I would like to think that it is the sponsor or mastermind for the whole thing.
Revelation 12:1-9 (NIV)
1 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. 4 His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
When you go to visit the surrounding villages, you'll see a lot of the girls and ladies who sell at the night markets selling from their homes during the day. They work all day and night, as a family group, making and selling their handcrafts to the tourists.
Many of the girls at the markets look too young to be mothers - but sure enough, when you seen them breastfeeding, you know that they are not just babysitting siblings etc! The babies must learn to be very patient, hanging around while their mothers work all day and night.
There's not a lot of English spoken yet, as tourist is relatively fledgling in Laos - but smiles and purchases are quick way to make new friends!
Notice the colour of the water the second bub has - and we get all bent out of shape to drink the bottled water!!!
We often asked for Nescafe to have a break from the strong coffee. The strongest we had though, was when we went trekking, when we were served the hot drink in glasses. After 2 sachets of whitener.....well, see if you can tell which cup has the milk!
Just like any other Indochina countries, Laotians are mostly adopting Buddhism as a way of life. Offerings of foods, seeking peace, paying respect to idols are just the regular activities in Wats.
Many of you may notice that I don’t quite like to describe Buddhism faith or taking pictures of idols. Instead I will pay more attention to architectural designs and landscaping of those Wats.
1 Corinthians 8:4-6 (International Standard Version)
4 Now concerning eating food offered to idols: We know that no idol is real in the world and that there is only one God. 5 For even if there are "gods" in heaven and on earth (as indeed there are many so-called "gods" and "lords"), 6 yet for us there is only one God, the Father, from whom everything came into being and for whom we live. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom everything came into being and through whom we live.