This morning Sar is taking us to see the alms giving. Several of us are concerned about this because we’ve heard it’s not really the thing to do and that preferably tourists should really remain out of the way of such ceremonies. He assures us we are going somewhere quieter on the trail, however when our little buggy train pulls up outside the most popular bakery in town, we feel a little duped. We have buckets of rice and snacks (which to most of us look like packets of no-goodness-at-all for those who are on a basic diet). More tourists arrive and little stools are put out for them to be seated on. What follows next, is unforgiveable to most of us in our group – these tourists REMAIN SEATED whilst the monks collect their alms from them. This seems to be very wrong to us, very wrong in deed. But Sar sees no problem in it. He sees it as something which is a part of the local culture that they want visitors to see. I personally feel embarrassed and wish that perhaps I had gone for a stroll myself this morning and seen the ceremony from a distance so I could have experienced it from a more local standpoint rather than this contrived feeling event. I feel like such a tourist – and not in a good way.
The rest of the day I spend at my leisure. I don’t want to sight-see. I just want to chill and enjoy the town. A local lunch, a trip down to the river front, a stroll around the streets, some local banana chips, hanging out in a bookshop and a shot of lao-lao (a very strong local Whiskey). The rain still hangs around annoyingly. I write a postcard home to my niece and breathe a huge sigh of relief as I receive an email stating I have a job starting the Monday after I return home from Asia. Now, I just need to make sure my washing is dry for the next leg of our journey.