Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Thung Yai 1.4

Each of us bumped, rolled, sloshed, sweated and certainly struggled in this land for our own reasons, learning our own lessons in addition to the ones Ajan Boon Long hoped we’d learn. Many of us travelled for the sheer adventure of it all, secure and in the authority of travelling with Buddhist monks. Some of us travelled out of respect for what Ajan Satien did for the local Karen people. (best known to Westerners as the tribe whose women elongate their necks with a series of metal rings). Some felt reward for helping out the Karen with food, clothes, salt and a change of diet at least for a couple of days.

Travelling as we did with Kammatan Buddhist monks was the most important element of the trip as Thung Yai and Huai Kha Khaeng are wildlife sanctuaries and, as such, protected areas unlike national parks. So, visitors require prior permission to get in. The sanctuary status is important because the designation helps ensure that the area is relatively untouched. Tourism in the area, in fact, is not encouraged. The few hundred visitors that do enter Thung Yai and Huai Kha Khaeng each year usually are members of scientific field study groups. Anyone else wanting to enter should first get consent from the Royal Thai Forestry department.

I don’t know for sure, but my feeling is that if you travel with Buddhist monks in Thailand, you can go just about anywhere in the country and be respected for being in their company – certainly an honor.

Being on an annual pilgrimage with Kamattan monks opens the gates to Thung Yai as it would just about anywhere in “The Land of Smiles.” At checkpoints, one of the lay people would present our travel/itinerary and the number in our party, but not much more than that. As a foreigner, I was expecting to have to present a passport and have a list with all our names on it. I never saw such a list and I don’t think we had one.

Kamattan Buddhist monks are different than the more numerous Thai Buddhist monks. I’ve written elsewhere about the differences, here:

My free ebook about this trip:

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