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Spending our first night in a temple

We read on many blogs how many backpackers had spent nights camping in temples in Southeast Asia, and after a month in Thailand we had not yet done it. Either because we did not find any, or because asking people where we could find one they ended up taking us home to sleep, so we could never do it.

Getting to Laos we went straight to Vientiane, and since it was the first night in a new country and we got to the capital, we decided to get a hostel but since it was almost Lao New Year we had a problem that left us without bed. Leaving the hostel, we saw a big temple in front which, being already 10pm, had a little door opened. It was a sign: The day had come to spend the night in a temple.

We walked in and after checking a little the place, we met a monk with who we tried to speak without result. Fortunately, the signs are understood throughout the world so it was enough to make the symbol of sleep, tent and point to the grass, for him to understand us. He exclaimed the ‘ooooh’ so typical in Thailand and Laos whenever they understand you, and made us a sign to wait. He left and came back with another monk who spoke perfect English. Apparently there was no need to ask any superior, since the man with whom we had exchanged signs was the head monk.

We were told we could sleep there but only one night and due to that in the last months they had tried to steal more than once in the temple, we had to be careful with our belongings and leave our passports to the head monk during the night, and he would give them back in the morning.

We accepted and while we were looking for a good campsite they could not stop repeating about the thefts, looking really worried about us, until we were told to wait another moment and they came back with a key to a room. Apparently, the monk who lived there was spending a few days away and they were going to let us sleep there that night.

The room was one of the many in one of the corridors where the monks live. Inside could not be simpler: had a sort of bed, some books, a window, a kettle, a fan and a simple bathroom.

Even being in the capital, the silence was absolute so looking for not to interfere it, we plugged our phones and went straight to bed. The next day we woke up early, as we agreed, we took a fresh shower and left the room. Although the sun had just come out, all young monks were working either watering plants, sweeping or cleaning. We were told that because of the Lao New Year, Pi Mai as they call it, being only few days later, the superior monk had had to go, but had given them our passports so they would give to us before leaving. But taking advantage of the boss not being there, not only they brought the passports but also coffee and cookies and sat around us.

Although they really tried hard, we could see what we have kept on seeing these days in Laos, almost nobody here speaks English, but at least they do not lose their smiles and keep on trying. After that breakfast and some quick English classes from us and some Lao classes from them, it was time to say goodbye. They should leave the temple perfect for the start of Pi Mai and we had to start exploring Vientiane.

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