Alms-Giving & Mystical Pak Ou Caves
A beautiful way to start the day! Your Alms offering will be crafted in advance and waiting onboard for you when you arrive. The morning will start with a short cruise across the Mekong river to pay homage at one of the many temples in Chomphet.
Once to the temple you will be guided on how present your food offering and Khan Dok Mai (flowering offering) to the monk(s) before they appear to receive them. As the offering comes to and end the monk will take time to personally bless each person before they go on their way. Smiles!
After Alms have been offered and blessings received, we will embark on a scenic 25km cruise up river to the famous Pak Ou caves. Relax and enjoy the next two hours soaking up the splendour of the Mekong while enjoying the comforts of Bounmi.
Once safely docked at Pak Ou Caves guests will hop off Bounmi to begin a guided excursion through the caves while learning about their rich history and cultural significance. Your licensed guide will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
On conclusion of your tour to the caves you will be greeted back onboard Bounmi with a chilled refreshments and traditional Lao snacks. With a one-and-a-half-hour downriver cruise back to Luang Prabang, guests can enjoy the rest of their time soaking up the magic of the Mekong!
The Practice of Giving Alms
The practice of Alms-Giving is most prevalent in the Theravada Buddhist cultures of Laos, Thailand and Cambodia where monks once wandered freely and relied on the offerings of food from laypeople in return for spiritual guidance. Although Buddhist monks now mostly reside in Wats (temples) this spiritual connection between monastic communities and laypeople is still alive today. Buddhist monks must refrain from eating after midday, therefore we must offer Alms prior to 11am.
Giving Alms Across the Mekong
Chomphet District boasts a number of wonderful temples and we like to share your offerings with many of them. Being closely connected to the community in Ban Xiengmen (Chomphet District), brings us insight into the different temples and their needs. Some of course need more than others and some may have less monks and novices. So, we take all this into consideration when choosing where to cruise to pay homage. Enjoy a personal and traditional experience in the practice of giving Alms.
Pak Ou Caves
For centuries Buddhists from far and wide have been making the pilgrimage to Pak Ou Caves to leave effigies by way of spiritual offering. Literally thousands of Buddha’s, varying in size and stature, are scattered across every available surface within the two caves creating a phenomenal display of religious artifacts.
Scooped out of the cliff face, the lower cave’s (Tham Ting) formation allows a preview of some of the statues from the water’s edge, however as you ascend the grand staircase leading into the hollow, the striking effect caused by the sheer mass of Buddhas reaches full l impact.
The upper and larger of the two caves (Tham Theung) is reached by a 10 minute, yet worthwhile, climb up a well-maintained stairway. Due to the scale and cavernous quality of the cave the density of statues is less intense, however the addition of beautiful rock formations helps to create a seraphic atmosphere that befits the cave’s spiritual purpose.