Locals in central Thailand's Lopburi Province, known for its rampant monkey population, are begging tourists to stop giving monkeys cigarettes.
Luang Ta Bunchuen Panyavuto, a representative of the Thai forest tradition, will travel through 24 provinces to raise money for the construction of the Fon Sawan Hospital in Nakhon Phanom Province. He expects the journey to take five to six months.
Every year after completing the three-month Buddhist retreat Rains, the monk takes a long barefoot walk. Last year, Luang Ta Bunchuen walked 1,500 kilometers barefoot from Phuket Province to Nakhon Phanom Province.
Yesterday, Songkhla Province Governor Jesada Chitrat attended a ceremony at the Mahattamankalaram Temple in Hat Yai District to wish the monk good luck on his difficult journey.
At the ceremony, Luang Ta Bunchuen briefly told reporters…
“We will start hiking tomorrow on the specified route. Buddhists can come and pay their respects and make offerings if they like. It’s raining a lot lately, but I am not afraid. The more rain the better.”
The monks at the Mahatmamangalam Temple held a prayer ceremony for Luang Ta Bunchuen at 3:30 am today before his departure.
Luang Ta Bunchuen said that during the trip he would practice dhutanga, ascetic practices, in the footsteps of the respected monk Ajahn Mun, who founded the Thai forest tradition.
The elderly monk is a former soldier and veteran of the Vietnam War. After the war, he started a family. Later, he studied the teachings of the forest monk Ajahn Mun.
In 2009, he decided to take the veil as a monk in the forest tradition in order to “find the truth.”
Last month, the Thai army rescued a man who was walking from Songkhla to his home in Buriram province.
If you would like to make a donation to the monk's cause, transfer your donation to the State Savings Bank account number 020-3984-57356.
The money will be used to build a hospital and purchase medical equipment.