Fah Thai Magazine July/August 2017

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SAMUI<br />

Crystal clear waters lap at the whitest sand beaches<br />

of Samui set against year-round sunshine and blue<br />

skies. Nearby are 42 islands of Ang Thong Marine<br />

National Park and part of the largely uninhabited<br />

islands of Chumphon Archipelago: Koh Samui is set in a<br />

spectacular landscape that simply inspires. And there is<br />

something otherworldly and ethereal about <strong>Thai</strong>land’s<br />

third largest island that reverberates with the very core of<br />

your inner being, with places echoing the heart and soul of<br />

Buddhist spiritualism and <strong>Thai</strong> culture.<br />

Top Right<br />

Na Muang Waterfall<br />

where a serpent-like<br />

tree stands<br />

Middle<br />

A private park, the<br />

Magic Garden is<br />

full of stone<br />

sculptures depicting<br />

human, animals<br />

and deities aimed to<br />

teach people about<br />

the afterlife.<br />

Bottom Right<br />

A striking landmark<br />

in Samui is that<br />

of the legendary<br />

Chinese warrior,<br />

Guan Yu, who is<br />

revered as a<br />

god of war<br />

and protection.<br />

One such place is the Magic Garden<br />

that takes you off the beaten path<br />

and into a hillside jungle. Hidden<br />

away, this private oasis of incredible<br />

stone sculptures was apparently<br />

inspired by the owner of the land,<br />

a durian farmer, who founded<br />

a waterfall at the beauty spot.<br />

In his 70s at the time, some 40<br />

years ago, he decided to spend<br />

15 years creating a mystical<br />

garden to teach people about the<br />

afterlife. The human, animal and<br />

deity depictions of classic <strong>Thai</strong><br />

folk stories are mesmerising and<br />

wonderfully soulful.<br />

Elsewhere on the island, trees<br />

where spirits are also believed to<br />

reside are protected with colourful<br />

ribbons. Silk outfits are left hanging<br />

from spirit tree branches as a gift<br />

to the female guardian tree spirits,<br />

Nang Mai and Nang Takian. At<br />

Na Muang Waterfall, one part of<br />

a spirit tree resembles a serpent<br />

(naga), a symbolically important<br />

animal in <strong>Thai</strong> folklore and Buddhist<br />

teachings, and has been honoured<br />

with ornate decorations. It is<br />

believed a cobra sheltered Buddha<br />

from a storm as he meditated<br />

and <strong>Thai</strong> legend tells of a snake<br />

requesting to change into a man to<br />

enter the monkhood.<br />

Grandparents on their way<br />

to ask the parents of their<br />

grandson’s paramour for her<br />

hand in marriage are caught in<br />

a storm, another Samui legend<br />

relates. Shipwrecked, they perish<br />

and turn into stones, Hin Ta and<br />

Hin Yai (Grandfather Rock and<br />

Grandmother Rock) as a continuing<br />

pledge to their mission. The rocks<br />

resemble the intimate regions of a<br />

man and woman and the story adds<br />

some folklore charm to the visually<br />

interesting rocky scene.<br />

Whether elaborate make-believe<br />

or not, the tale demonstrates how<br />

animism underpins Buddhist beliefs<br />

in <strong>Thai</strong>land: that stones, rivers and<br />

trees have souls.<br />

Local superstition is that young<br />

couples who visit the area soon<br />

break up should they get close to the<br />

stones. Cars honk their horns as a<br />

sign of respect to the spirits looking<br />

over motorists as they pass<br />

Photo: Thewin Chanyawong<br />


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