On our last morning in Luang Prabang we rose at 5:30am to help feed the local monk community out in front of our hotel. Each morning hundreds of monks from 113 temples can be seen walking the streets collecting alms or food and money. Our group leader had arranged for long carpets to be placed in the street with tiny plastic chairs placed in a row. In front of each chair was a woven basket with a lid filled with cooked sticky rice, a staple in the diet of the local people. We were given sashes to wear and we had to remove our shoes as a sign of respect to the monks. As we were seated, the local monks paraded by us, open the lid on their pots and we would place a golf ball sized lump of sticky rice in each of the monks’ pots. They continued to come in several groups over a period of time of about 45 minutes. The locals start their day at 4:00am when they rise to begin cooking the sticky rice that they will give the monks that morning. They sit on small stools with fabric sashes as well. Very interesting.
Next, we were taken by minivan to the local morning market where the locals go each day to pick up groceries for the daily meals. The narrow alley ways were filled with one stand after the next and the locals were busy shopping for all things from the common to the exotic. The fresh fruits and vegetables were beautiful, the fish, poultry and meat not so appetizing, but then there was the exotic. We saw live chickens, live ducks, live bats, live crabs, live toads, barbecued rats, live eels, live snakes and most anything else you might could imagine.
By 11:00am we were headed to the airport for the long and exhausting trip home. From Lunag Prabang we flew about two hours to Bangkok where we had a four-hour layover. From Bangkok, we flew about three hours to Hong Kong where we had a 90-minute layover. From Hong Kong, we flew about 13 hours to Los Angeles. By this time, it was too late in the evening for us to fly to San Diego that night so we had to transfer to a local hotel for the night. The next morning after our 11-and-a-half-hour layover we flew the final one-hour flight to San Diego. A very long trip home, but glad that we went.