A hint of daylight. I grab my windbreaker (mornings are chilly in Luang Prabang) and walk the uneven streets to Sisavangvong Road, the main street running the length of the city. I claim a perch atop a wall respectfully recessed from the street and watch as fleets of mini-vans dispatch their passengers. This sleepy neighborhood is awakening before me with two types of people: the calm, sincere locals who wait patiently on plastic stools along the kerb; and the animated tourists snapping photos of one-another, holding bags of rice aloft like trophies.
We’ve gathered to either watch or participate in Tak Bat, the daily alms-giving ceremony. A long line of monks wearing orange robes with bright yellow cumberbunds (or something like that) snakes through the streets of Luang Prabang, the young men extending bowls to the kneeling villagers as they walk past them. The villagers dip into pots they’ve brought, form balls of rice with their hands (yikes), and place them into the monks’ bowls. A few small children run along side the monks extending their own pots, playfully begging them for a portion of their alms. The monks indulge them.