Morning Alms in Luang Prabang

Every morning at 6am in Luang Prabang the local monks walk the main street collecting alms from the locals. The alms usually come in the form of homemade sticky rice and other foods. It’s a local custom that’s been around for ages. Tourists are welcome to witness the alms procession however from what I’ve been told it’s best to witness it from a distance. There are plenty of women trying to sell sticky rice to tourists but you shouldn’t buy it because the food they’re selling is of dubious quality and also because you didn’t prepare the sticky rice yourself. The monks also know that the sticky rice that they receive from tourists is of questionable quality.

When we walked up to the main street I was surprised to see about 100 people lined up with alms to give to the monks and loads of tourists ready with their cameras for the monks to arrive. As we walked around some more I realized that the long line of alms givers were not local Lao people; they were Chinese package tourists. There must’ve been about 300 of them in total who had just arrived the day before. And even worse, they all brought their cameras and were being obnoxious Chinese tourists. Some were literally putting their cameras right in monk’s faces and obstructing the procession. And just when you thought it couldn’t get worse another bus full of Chinese tourists arrived.

I managed to get away from them and their incessant photo posing and took some shots from a distance using my 18-270mm lens. The alms procession is a really beautiful thing to witness and thankfully even the hoards of Chinese tourists couldn’t ruin the experience.    

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