Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A brief moment with Buddha

The Buddha who brought rain and thunder to Luang Prabang for the past week was yesterday put back inside his little temple hut at Wat Xiengthong where he will be hidden from public view until this time next year. The only way to see him is by putting forward an official request to the temple's head abbot - outlining what 'wish' you would like granted /what spiritual assistance you need. If your case is worthy, you'll be allowed a private audience. 

It was amazing to watch the local men bathe the statue in water before carrying it through a throng of beautifully dressed women who clanged cymbals and rang bells. As one of the monks beat the temple drum, the golden Buddha was returned to solitude.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lucky wrists

Basi ceremonies are held regularly by Lao people as a way of maintaining harmony within the body and community. The ritual ends with the tying of strands of white cotton around the wrists to bless the individual with good health, happiness and wealth. 

When it came time for my landlady's fiancé to wish me well, he added an extra request to the spirits: "And may she find a kind-hearted man to love her"...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Teddy bears and fake flowers

When I get married, I want this. So much. And a fluffy floral wedding gown to match. Today's Lao New Year celebrations included several of these colourful outdoor photo booths where parents placed children for happy snaps...and young lovers sat with their selfie sticks. I plan on parking myself in between these two teddies and waiting for a marriage proposal.

Water fights, elephants and flying horses...Lao New Year

It's water fight time in Laos which means that leaving one's house is an open invitation to get drenched by any means...buckets, hoses, water pistols. It's not unusual for the water to have dye in it or other unsavoury things. For this reason I will be placing my valuables in an attractive plastic pouch. 

My first experience of Pi Mai took place in the alleyway near my home yesterday. It involved an eight year old boy with a water gun bigger than him, pointed in my direction. He tilted his head timidly to the side and lifted his shoulders as if to say "Would it be okay for me to water you?". I replied in Lao, just as timidly, "Noi neung", which means "a little". I had zero confidence that he'd honour my request given that I'd spent the afternoon watching people getting saturated by strangers. But, to my surprise, he put down his gun, walked over to his big bucket of water, filled a cup and walked towards me. I put my hands out and he gently poured the cup over them, allowing me to cool my forehead from the 40 degree heat. I have a feeling that the other Lao New Year revellers I encounter over the next week will not be as sweet and courteous.