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The Pak Ou caves

Some quick highlights of the day

We visited the Pak Ou caves by taking a traditional boat from Luang Prabang up the Mekong. There are tons of pictures, many of which will not get posted until after I return to the States, but here are some photo highlights of the day, a lovely river boat ride, and a very moving visit to the caves where devotions, offered in the form of Buddha images, have been left for – centuries, apparently.

Our driver and boat (right) to the caves. He was a skillful and conscientious navigator

An arrestingly beautiful Buddha in the lower cave

This sad little guy was asking for alms. I gave him a bit of money but, hurrying to a toilet, took no time to try to lessen the difficulty of his day by any other gesture of kindness, a lapse for which I remain deeply sorry.

A group of Buddhas which appear to have the same kind of threads on them that I am now wearing on my right wrist, it having been tied on as a blessing by a young Buddhist novice in Luang Prabang. I found the scene deeply affecting -- both that at Pak Ou and receiving the blessing by Tham in Luang Prabang. The latter event occurred after Charlie and I had been to a chant ceremony that Tham had earlier invited us to attend.

Another wonderful Buddha, also with the threads mentioned above

A group of Buddhas

Posted by aethelraed 02:52

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You did what you could for him, Larry - probably more than most. L, M

by gittwolf

Thanks Mera. I usually show people I've photographed the picture I've just taken. It has elicited a lot of smiles, simple as it is. Not doing it this time, I think the little boy may have taken my impatience to get to the loo as impatience with him. It's not so much that I couldn't do a lot to help (giving only goes so far), as that I might have increased the burden he so obviously bears. THAT is hard to contemplate, the urgency of a middle aged bladder notwithstanding.

by aethelraed

Hi, Larry,
This practice of tying white cotton threads is actually an animist practice, well integrated into Buddhism, though never practiced by full blown monks, if I can say, but usually by the "sexton", and old lay man living in the monastery, helping the monks with various chores. He ties up your many (the number varies, up to 42..) souls. That's why the ceremony is always (but not exclusively) performed at the time of a travel.To make sure you don't leave some of your souls behind you...
I may have left some myself, as I lived there 23 years ago...
Cheers, and have a nice travel!

by Discobole (Les paroles gelées)

Thanks for the insights, Daniel. Even swarming with tourists (like me), the caves and the Buddhas were very affecting. Thailand was wonderful, but Laos utterly captured my heart. I hope I stay healthy and live long enough to get back -- probably after I retire. I still have things to post on Luang Prabang, as well as Phonsavan and Vientiane. And I did not have time to do a post on Mae Hong Son in Thailand either. I hope to get some pictures up now that I am back home. It was an amazing trip.

by aethelraed

Welcome home. L, M

by gittwolf

Thanks, Mera; it's good to be home.

by aethelraed

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