Ruth: The sign at the temple at the top of town announced that Monk Chat was available between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. In the finer print it explained that the monks want to practice their English skills and are happy to answer any questions about Buddhism, life as a monk, or anything else. We sat down at a table with two novices who were 15 and 19 years old. They wanted to know about Canada and Victoria. The younger of the two spent much of his time on his smart phone, zooming in on the satellite image of Victoria and asking me about various buildings. I identified Save-On-Foods Arena, which meant I then had to talk about hockey. They gave me my first lesson in Lao and I was pleased to find out that a good chunk of my Thai vocabulary of about twenty words was similar or the same as the Lao words.
In the temple itself, a monk with excellent English told us that he had been a monk for three years, but was a novice for four years before that. At the age 21 he was not sure whether he would be a monk forever, but for now it was his life. He also asked me about my beliefs and we had a lovely chat about Buddhism and my efforts to learn to meditate.
After our first day in Laos Gord and I are blown away by the friendliness of the Lao people. The monks were not the exception, as everyone we have met has been friendly and helpful. I have a very good feeling about this country.