Our Asia specialist, Asha, has just returned from a research trip through Laos. In this short article Asha talks about her encounter with a young monk at the Wat Mai temple.
Wat Mai temple
As part of our Luang Prabang city tour we stopped at the famous Wat Mai temple. Built in the 18th century it is one of the largest and most decorated temples in Luang Prabang.
While walking around admiring the temple, our Western tour leader Amanda had noticed a young monk studying on a nearby table. After friendly chat in Lao, Amanda advised that the monk was currently learning English and would like to practice with us.
Our conversation started on the basics. The group firing questions hoping to not overwhelm him. How old are you? Do you live here? How long have you been a monk? A friendly and eager monk replied back in near perfect English, 17, Yes, over there is my room, I came as a child.
Sitting to chat
Leaving the family
He then went on to explain that his family was from northern Laos, when he was a small child his family traveled to Luang Prabang to allow him to become a monk. For his family this meant that he was being cared for, had food, shelter and most importantly an education, for him it was a noble profession.
Excitedly he explained gets to see his family once a year, but can talk them on the phone whenever he wants.
The monastic life
Living at the monastery next to Wat Mai temple he starts the day early in the morning with pray followed by collecting of Alms. To him giving of the alms is a very spiritual experience between himself his beliefs and the local person giving. Afterward its back to school for lessons more studying and cleaning of his room. When he has a free time he likes to play games with other monks or play with the local “homeless” dogs.
And what about you?
He then quizzes us on what where we have been in Laos, what were our favorite experiences and where we are traveling to next. He is delighted to hear our stories of traveling to similar regions and advises us he wants to travel one day.
Young Monks in L:uang Prabang
At the conclusion of our chat we have felt blessed that we have had such an amazing conversation from a monk from another world, a cultural experience we never thought possible. But most importantly the biggest lesson of all was although our lives are different his main message to us was he was turning 17, next year he was finishing school and he was concerned he didn't know what he wanted to do with his life yet. Much like any teenager.
Asha is one of our Asia specialists based in Travel Indochina's Sydney office working within our wholesale reservations team. Browse all of our small group tours to Laos or our unbeatable collection of tailor-made vacations.