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Holy monk Luang Pu Supha lies asleep under his saffron bedspread on Phuket

Phuket, a Haven for World's Oldest Aircraft Passenger

Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Photo Album Above

WHETHER Phuket's revered monk, Luang Pu Supha, is the world's oldest man is still being debated. As a holy man, he would probably say that age is unimportant anyway. Wisdom and understanding count for much more.

Yet as his 114th birthday approaches next month, what can be said with greater certainty is that Luang Pu Supha is almost definitely the world's oldest flier.

Without any doubt, he is Phuket's most remarkable man. He recently returned to Phuket from a five-day flying lecture trip to Indonesia, undertaken despite his advanced age and with just one other monk for company.

Will he be making more overseas trips? Probably. There seems no limit to what this extraordinary yet simple monk can do. He was in Singapore not that long ago, passing on the teachings of Buddhism.

To visit Luang Pu Supha at the Buddhist temple named in his honor in the southern Phuket region of Chalong is to begin to understand how highly he is regarded, and why.

We have seen him twice before, on special occasions, with hundreds of others around him, but never before in his private quarters. The nondescript building is tucked away in the temple grounds, behind a huge gong with a clanger that takes great effort to lift.

We knock, and the door is answered. Inside, there is a kneeling cushion and a small table. Only when we bend to pray do we see what lies before us.

Through large glass double doors, directly beyond the kneeler and the table, we see Luang Pu Supha's sleeping quarters. The room is well-lit. He is there, taking an afternoon siesta, beneath a formidable saffron bedspread.

Around him are the items he needs, plus a radio and a television set. It is astonishing to outsiders unfamiliar with Buddhism and the Thai way that people who visit at the right time of day can meet him and talk to him in his room.

When he is not flying to Indonesia or Singapore, Luang Pu Supha spends most of his time in his room here. Because he liked Phuket and wanted to stay on the island after a lifetime spent teaching, around him has grown a temple.

And because he has had such a long and illustrious career as a monk, and a lifetime spanning three centuries, the temple will eventually become a shrine.

Plans are underway, with the blessing of Luang Pu Supha, to construct a a huge dome stretching five storeys high, at a cost of 40 million baht, that will eventually become his final resting place.

He has already told his companions that he will sleep on the second floor once the dome is completed. When the final pong sang karn comes, he will move up one floor.

The dome should be finished in 2012. Luang Pu Supha, 200 monks and hundreds of his admirers will celebrate his birthday at the Phuket temple on September 16 and on the big day, September 17.

By then, aged 114, he will probably be planning his next overseas lecture tour.
World's Oldest Man: Phuket Birthday Special
World's Oldest Man: Photo Special The eyes of the world will be on Phuket on September 17 as Luang Pu Supha celebrates his 113th birthday. His life has been full of good deeds.
World's Oldest Man: Phuket Birthday Special

Choafas Ride Skywards in Colorful Wat Ceremony
Spectacular scenes marked the lifting of ornate rooftop decorations at a new wat building on the south of the island. A former Prime Minister and current parliamentary representatives were among hundreds at the gathering.
Choafas Ride Skywards in Colorful Wat Ceremony

Temple Ceremonies Deserve An Audience
Phuket's hilltop Big Buddha is already attracting a steady stream of tourists and many Buddhist temples warrant visits, too; Patong tailors strike back with a honeymoon treat.
Temple Ceremonies Deserve An Audience

Phuket Golf Scores As Chalong Academy Nears
Phuket golf is probably more popular and profitable than yachting. The addition of a nine hole course and golf academy at Chalong from 2009 should bring more swinging tourists and encourage local talent.
Phuket Golf Scores As Chalong Academy Nears

Ceremonies: Choafa Blessing at Wat Silasuparam
A widely respected monk will be honoured in two days of ceremonies that are expected to attract large numbers of people to Wat Silasuparam, near Wat Chalong.
Ceremonies: Choafa Blessing at Wat Silasuparam

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Great photos and story, love that bedspread! Thanks for publishing; we visited Wat Luang Pu Supha late last year they've completed a lot of the construction work since then. We hope he celebrates many more birthdays.

Posted by SongSi on August 17, 2010 20:51


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