Monks Life in Luang Prabang
It is 5 o'clock in the morning and the temple bell rings. Monks and novices rise, don their robes and begin their first meditation session for the day. By six the streets of Luang Prabang fill with saffron robes, as the monks shuffle through the streets collecting alms, pausing every now and then to receive offerings from Laotian housewives. After returning to their quarters, the monks have breakfast, clean the temple, then prepare for their day. So important is temple life in Luang Prabang that with its 34 temples, or wats as they are called here, even addresses have more to do with a temple district than a street address - often without numbers. Traditionally, all Lao young men shave their hair,don their robes and become novices for a period of three months during their lives. This is a rite of passage into adulthood as well as making merit for themselves and their families. Some never leave and, at the age of twenty, become full-fledged monks devoting their lives to Buddha and teaching.