Friday, March 4th (Luang Prabang Day 2)

  • Woke up at 5:30am to watch the Alms Giving ceremony on the streets of Luang Prabang.
  • We read that the ceremony had become very touristy, and unfortunately, this turned out to be the truth.
  • At 6am the drums sounded and monks, young and old, filed out of the monasteries to collect their food rations for the day from the local townspeople lined up along the sidewalk.
  • It is easy to see what this ceremony once was: a deeply religious experience highlighting the responsibility of local villagers to their ascetic cohabitants.
  • Now the ceremony is plagued by rude, camera-wielding tourists interrupting the flow of the procession and forcing flashes into the monk’s faces.
  • Truth be told, it was a bit of a hollow spectacle.  However, on our walk back to the guesthouse, we did see a line of monks on a side street collecting alms without the interference of tourists.  It was nice to see that at least a kernel of the original event survives.
  • We returned to the hostel for breakfast and coffee, then set off for our main activity of the day: knife making with a local blacksmith.
  • We joined a British couple and were taken to a nearby village by Tuk Tuk.
  • There we met our master blacksmith and his two son helpers.
  • Together they led us through the entire forging process, starting with cutting up a slab of railroad iron with a wedge and sledgehammer.  After a shot of heat from the fire, we pounded the iron flat, then let the blacksmith master take charge of the finer shaping.  We ended with some blade polishing and sharpening on a fly wheel.
  • When the sons weren’t helping us, they were busy carving wooden handles and sheaths for our knives.
  • The whole process took nearly 5 hours and was very labour intensive, both for us and the father-sons team.  By the end we were exhausted but satisfied, each holding a brand new hand made knife to call our own.
  • We returned to the hostel and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing poolside.
  • For dinner we went to a restaurant called “Secret Pizza” owned by an Italian expat.  Its online reputation is phenomenal and the place is only open Tuesdays and Fridays adding to the allure.    
  • We splurged on a Western meal of pizza, garden salad, and red wine.  Three items that we haven’t tasted in nearly 6 months.
  • We returned to our guesthouse with satisfied bellies and spent the rest of the evening reading, relaxing, and hanging out.  
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