At the end of the day, most robed monks are just regular Joes. Students, tradesmen, even hoodlums. They are not bound to be men of the cloth, simply boys fulfilling their religious obligation (single men/boys in Laos are required to study as monks for a minimum of three months), or obtaining a free education (otherwise, education - even a public education - costs money, of which there is precious little to go around). One of the members of our group came up with an apt analogy: the monks robes are akin to a Catholic school uniform. So throw out your notions that all monks are pious and devout. They very well may be, but real world diversions - cell phones, cigarettes, tattoos - are part of the culture as well.