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Morning Alms in Luang Prabang
"Tak Bat" or morning alms is a living Buddhist tradition in Laos which has become a tourist attraction on the must see/do list of Luang Prabang. It is indeed a beautiful sight and even after living in Laos for almost 2 years, I never tire of it. How humbling to see hundreds of monks and young novices clad in orange robes streaming out of the temples. You may have just rubbed the sleep out of your eyes but they’ve been awake since 4 a.m. for hours of prayer and meditation. The sight of the villagers is also remarkable, for they dutifully rise every morning to give food. But as more and more travellers discover Laos, this ceremony has turned into a spectacle with disruptive, disrespectful behaviour from tourists. What I regularly see is appalling: Cameras and flash in the face, tourists interrupting the procession, people dressed inappropriately, just to name a few. The morning alms is an important aspect of Lao culture and I'm glad that visitors are learning about it. Let’s treat it with respect and dignity: if you want to politely observe tak bat, please read the guidelines I've written here: http://somanymiles.com/2013/02/morning-alms-in-luang-prabang-religious-tradition-turned-tourist-spectacle/ Most activity happens on the main street at approx 5:30 am. But remember, there are wats all over town. My favourite memories of tak bat come from the small bans away from town centre where there were only 10 or so monks. The ceremony is beautiful and humbling all the same.
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