Six years ago during a border skirmish, the Burmese army advanced to the center of this temple area and established what they now call the border. It cut the temple grounds in half with the larger newer temple claimed by the Burmese.
This is a shot from the Thai side looking up toward the temple now considered Burma. From another advantage point I got another shot where if you look closely you can see the Burmese soldier sitting with his rifle on his lap watching us.
He’s rally hard to see and the enlargement doesn’t help – but he is there. They then land-mined the gully area between the two parts of the temple grounds – If you look at the bottom of the image you can see the old monk and school metal building. – this is no “no-man’s-land” and heavily mined. Here is a image of the Thai soldiers that guard the border now – they came down to share in the lunch we brought. Nice to know they are on patrol and alert.
This is a shot of the “Old” temple located in the present temple area. I didn’t get any inside shots at this time – that will be on a later visit – probably at the end of this month.
The Abbot of the temple is Phra Than Preecha. They also have a monk school (68 novice monks) and a school for the local children. Here we meet a Israeli volunteer teaching English to the novice monks, Yoram Barouch. (standing)
And the teacher for the local children school (Sorry, I didn’t get his name this time).
Here are some shots of the lunch they had ready – not really for us but for the novice monks – normally they just get a bowl of rice & vegetables (they say that all 68 monks are fed with 250 Baht of food each day – Thats about 8 dollars US$ – meat is a treat —– sooooo this meal was a real treat and everyone was there. Another volunteer I met was Idthipath Lertchaisak (Khun Boon). They are planning on developing a charity donation drive through the Chiang Mai Expats Club and Khun Boon will be a speaker for the project.
Some of the stories I was told about the hardships of the young boys and monks are really sad. One young novice, 12 y/o, had to travel for 7 days through the jungle to get here. Another 10 y/o had a 10 day journey fleeing across the border to get here. One slightly older boy had spent over 3 months in prison before getting here. Most are Shan tribal people from Burma call Thai Yai. The temple refuses no one so they are integrated into the novice program along with the local students.
Here is the table set up for Mr Boon and myself – quite a feed, and so delicious. I have more images in a Slide Show of the monks, ladies who volunteered to cook, children, and school/general area of the temple – I am working on some panoramic shots and will show them later. But here is another shot of the surrounding area.
Next post will be about the Shan refugee camp close by.