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Published on : Friday, December 9, 2016
Pioneering sensory travel company, Sens Asia, has unveiled its first full Laos immersion package with a 3D/2N Luang Prabang experience including pairing local families with travelers so they can enjoy a fully authentic experience of ancient customs and traditions such as Tak Bat. Tak Bat is a daily early morning ritual for all Buddhist monks in Laos, which sees monks, both young and old, walk the streets or ply the waterways along riverside communities as the local population offer prayers and alms. The monkhood remains a deeply revered part of Lao tradition as all young men pay respects to their parents by entering it for a time. Temples are also education centres and where many novices study.
“We invite travellers to not only explore a new destination, but also give them the chance to reconnect with themselves and delve deeper into travel experiences with a sense of local authenticity. Some visitors may be familiar with Luang Prabang, but our itinerary is designed to offer deeper insights into the culture by awakening the five senses through the local people they meet,” said Linh Bui, managing director of Sens Asia Travel.
Set against the tranquility of the former royal capital of Laos, the three-day Laotian experience offers an up-close view of the city’s scents, sights, sounds, and splendor. On the first night, a Baci ceremony at a local house infuses the sixth sense – heart – with a sincere blessing, and a home dinner with the local host provides a warm welcome to the country.
Luang Prabang’s religious heritage – an aspect that has added to the city’s reputation as one of Southeast Asia’s best-preserved heritage locations – is evident through visits to ancient temples. The Tak Bat ritual has been long been an important cultural and religious event in Luang Prabang, however, the recent upsurge in tourism is endangering the ceremony, as tourists take pictures of the monks and disrupt the ritual through misunderstanding. Sens Asia is dedicated to preserving this beautiful cultural event by ‘educating’ our guests in how important this ritual is to the local people.
In order to offer more than simply a peek into a Tak Bat on the main street of heritage town, travellers cruise across the Mekong river in the early morning to visit a village where they are paired with a local family. The family and the visitor then make sticky rice and prepare food in the early hours of the morning before offering them as alms when the city’s saffron-robed monks make their daily rounds.
At the night and morning markets, textiles, street food, and banter among the vendors paint a vivid scene for the senses, while eating as the locals do, with locally sourced ingredients, provides a delicious introduction to the country’s flavorful cuisine. A lesson on how to prepare Laotian food allows travellers to absorb even more of the destination and even incorporate it into their own daily life long after the tour ends.
Participants in the tour also enjoy a hands-on introduction into the county’s traditional handicrafts at a weaving centre where they can join a Hmong Batik class, followed by a friendly game of petanque. They can then enjoy a traditional dance show, and even experience a Garavek performance – the stage interpretation of the esoteric Laotian art of storytelling, presented in a way that’s both accessible and highly entertaining.