28 January 2017

Returning to Laos

I returned to Laos two weeks ago to begin my new job at LFHC. Upon returning I was eager to see familiar faces, specifically those of my students. It just so happens that the yearly seven-day meditation retreat ‘Vipassana Kammatthana’ was underway at Wat Phoukhuay. It was the perfect opportunity to see most of  my Buddhist Monk students in one place. Last year I wrote all about Vipassana, read about it here
Like last year, I sheepishly stayed near the back taking photos as to not disturb their meditation and chanting. During a short break, I was able to reunite with a number of my students and they kindly showed me around the temple grounds and the various clusters of tents, where they would be sleeping for seven days.

While talking to my students I was approached by a Monk, who upon noticing my camera, asked if he could see my photos as he forgot to bring his. He introduced himself as Sathou Keonoi from Vientiane and explained that he works alongside others to help plan the Vipassana program. After sharing my photographs and film with him he then encouraged me to take as many pictures as I wanted and from any angle. 
Having this permission was a great honour and I was able to capture some incredible images and film of the 450 Novices and Monks chanting in unison, an opportunity not many foreigners have. 
It was a fantastic reintroduction back into the Lao culture and the perfect ending to a rather stressful first week of work. Sitting in front of 450 Novices and Monks chanting is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Luke T.

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