Giving Alms in Vientiane, Laos

Father and son giving alms to Buddhist Monks

Just got back from spending a few days in Bangkok and Vientiane, Laos.  I took over 1000 pictures, so, that should be good for a post or two in the coming days. The Laos part of the trip went well and I got the all important Education Visa out of the way so that left ample free time to explore the city.

Fortunately, or unfortunately as it were, the bed in our Vientiane hotel was as hard as a rock, even by Thai standards, so I found myself up at the break of dawn each day to watch the city come alive.

One aspect of Buddhism I enjoy is watching the morning ritual of monks filing out of their respective Wats ( temples ) and into the streets to receive alms from the faithful. I’m not sure what draws me to the ritual more, the act of the faithful giving freely to the monks and receiving the monks blessings or the beautiful contrast of orange robes against dirty city streets that appeals to the photographer in me.

The faithful waiting for the Monks to arrive The monks receiving their alms Giving alms to Buddhist monks

When I mentioned to Ying that the monks were coming she hurriedly threw on some clothes, grabbed her bag and me and sped out the door.

Normally the alms given by the waiting faithful is small amounts of food and drink but it can also include household goods, candles and personal items for the monks to use. As we were running decidedly late we had no choice but to give the only gift we had…money. And we were going to have to convert some baht to Lao kip before we could even do that.

When you are in a hurry changing baht to kip is easier said than done, especially when you are doing it at a street vendor at 7am in the morning and only have 1000 baht notes on you. Luckily the vendor had a few large stacks of kip and the exchange was made in time to give alms to the passing Monks. In case you were wondering 1000 baht is roughly $30.00 and converted into Lao kip it becomes a staggering 283,000 kip, all of which is pretty much worthless, and no one wants it.

It was decided over morning tea that we would make a trip to the store and make a proper offering for tomorrows line of monks. When we went to the store it took Ying some time to pick the exact offering she had in mind. When all was said and done we left the store 80,000 kip lighter and had 7 care packages each containing a bottle of milk, a bottle of water and a tin of fish. We were ready!

Rushing across the street to give alms to Buddhist monks The receiving line of Buddhist monks The Buddhist monk receiving line moving down the street

As the next morning dawned I was at my post on the balcony, smoking a cigarette and patiently waiting for any sign of orange robes. Just as I finished my cigarette I noticed orange robes on the horizon and when I turned to tell Ying that it was time I noticed another group or orange robes coming from the opposite direction. I hadn’t thought about this predicament and wondered how Ying would react to the news. I didn’t tell her till we went downstairs and as we walked out of the hotel lobby there was a line of monks in front of her and another across the street where we gave alms previously.

She looked at each set of monks and then proclaimed that we must cross the street as those are our monks and besides this line had 13 monks and we weren’t prepared for that. So, we crossed the street just in time to give the alms and receive the monks blessing, which is quite beautiful in the wee hours of the morning. Below is a video of Ying handing out her offerings and of the monks singing the blessing. You might have to turn up the sound some as it came out on the low side.

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    6 thoughts on “Why Dentistry in Thailand is the better option

    1. I know this topic can spark long and multiple rants against western everything. But especially medical care. I have been a very happy patient of my dentist in Canada. I consider him outstanding. But I didn’t have to pay the bills, my dental plan did. Next year that is likely to stop (so I will welcome all Thailand medical care tips!).

      The point is that recently he turned me from patient into customer when he quoted $5,000 for one tooth impant. I got quotes in LOS of $1,400 to $2300 US. Still haven’t done it yet but it’s likely to happen next year so you can imagine where I’m going to go.

      You wrote Talen: . . . the anger I’m feeling at the country that is letting me down more and more each day

      This is definitely rant-worthy only in my case it’s Canada. From service and product pricing to male-female relationships to public service, I got a million stories. I just have to calm down enough to blog about them.

      .-= SiamRick´s last blog ..Beer in Thailand promotes good, healthy argument =-.

    2. Talen I agree with most of what you say particularly regarding cost and quality of service. However like many places in the world Thailand has its fair share of dentists who set up practice and are not qualified.

      Recently there have been several articles in the local press and on TV about this sharp practice(ouch)!

      Also there has been a lot about kids getting dental braces fitted for cosmetic reasons from back street outfits. Some of which(braces) were harmful to the kids concerned.

      Of course compared to the UK a fully qualified dentist here is excellent value and high quality.

      .-= Mike´s last blog ..Cycling in Thailand-Trek 4300 =-.

    3. I have not had the need to visit the dentist in Thailand. My wife, however, decided she needed braces for beauty so in she went.

      All in they cost around $1000.00. That included the initial consultation, removal of four molars, two years of monthly office visits, cleanings and ultimately the removal.

      Paid cash for all of it on the pay as you go plan without any insurance to muck things up.

      I don’t think there is any way I could have afforded to do this in the states.

    4. Visiting a dentist in the UK is just as painful as toothache itself and reads about the same as your US experience. My last trip to a dental practice was in Pattaya and the service was excellent and the cost cheap. I pray my teeth remain okay but barring any emergency dentistry then any future work on my teeth will be done in Thailand. The difference in price could be the cost of the flight itself.

      .-= Martyn´s last blog ..Habits, Rabbits and Dog Bits =-.

    5. OK you cry babies. I am a dentist in the states. Yes, the prices I charge seem high to me and I would hate to have to pay for my services. However, have any of you ever tried to run a dental practice? I worked hard to get through dental school, paid for it myself for the next ten+ years. The equipment, supplies and most of all payroll are a challenge to profitability. Then there are the regulators and tax agents. I get no benifits and neither did my children when they were in college and professional school. I also take very few vacations.

      Now about dentistry in Thailand. It is my impression that you can get good care there. You can probably get poor care there too, just as you can in this country. I would be confortable having my dental work done in Thailand.

      The concentration of Thai dentists in the metropolitan areas suggest they are driven by the same motivation as the dentist in this country – to make baht.

      So, it is just a different market and set of circumstances that drive the prices.

      Some advice, take care of your teeth in the first place. I make most of my living taking care of people who have done a poor job of preventing their dental diseases.

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