Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Big Party Going On Luang Prabang Laos February 19 2009

And now, back, back, back we go…back in time to mid-February and Luang Prabang once again…

Gail and Phil said that one of the nicest things about the Lotus Villa (our lovely little hotel) is that it is very quiet. That seemed to be the case, mostly. However, last night there was a raucous event next door. A big awning covered the street next to our hotel and a party with games, music, laughter and much talking seemed to be taking place. We puzzled over this. Maybe a restaurant or nightclub had opened since last fall when Gail and Phil were here. At any rate the room seemed to be well-insulated from the noise and we had no trouble sleeping through the din.

In the morning the “nightclub” had disappeared. By lunch something else was taking place. A big spread was laid out under the awning. There were trays with broths, condiments, and sticky rice. It all looked yummy. So, we decided maybe during the day the nightclub returned into a restaurant?

Later on in the afternoon the “restaurant” turned into a mysterious game. They are taking money from people as they enter, putting uncooked rice on the bills and then folding them into triangles. Then they place the money triangles on the sides of what looks like a large spirit house. People enter the awning area after placing their triangle on the spirit house and sit down, chatting with their neighbors while facing the spirit house. Maybe in the afternoon the restaurant turns into some sort of gambling establishment?

Still later in the afternoon we see monks enter the awning-covered area. Hmm, are they being given leftovers from lunch?

While we are waiting for the tuktuk that will take us to our sunset river trip I strike up a conversation with a British lady in the hotel lobby. She finally clears up mystery for us - it’s a Laotian Buddhist funeral! I tried to find out more about the funeral practices of Laos but found very little, and nothing that described the mysterious events we saw taking place next to the Lotus Villa. It seems to me an ideal place for an Anthropologist to make their mark!

I wish I had taken some pictures of all the activity but I think we knew what we were seeing was private in some special way and taking photos seemed intrusive. So, you all will just have to use your imagination I’m afraid…

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