A CARAVAN of 65 Buddhist monks have arrived in Phuket after walking more than 2000
kilometres from Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand.
The massive trek took them more than 99 days.
The pilgrims left The Golden Triangle Apex, which is the northernmost point of Thailand on January 10, and crossed the Sarasin Bridge which links Phuket to the mainland on the 99th day.
The number 99 is considered lucky in Thailand.
The monks travelled a total of 2112 kilometres to glorify His majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirigit.
When they set out from Chiang Rai, it was mid-winter and temperatures plunged to as low as four degrees.
Since then, they have hiked through three seasons, with temperatures ranging from almost freezing to the high 30s.
They have walked on hard concrete highways, along dusty village roads, through thick jungles, and along the sandy beaches of Phuket.
“It has not been easy for them,” said Khun Suphorn Wanitchkul, the CEO of the Buddha Mingmongkol Sattha 45 Foundation in Phuket.
“They have walked through cold weather, extreme heat and heavy downpours,” he said.
Khun Saphorn said the monks wanted to show their respect, loyalty and faith to the King and Queen by walking from one end of The Kingdom to the other.
“This will maintain and revive the Thai royal institution, and convince the Thai people to stay in harmony with society,” he said.
Khun Suphorn said the monks also collected money for the final stages of construction of the Big Buddha on top of Nakkerd mountain in Phuket.
He said whenever the monks stopped, people gave them food and money, and listened to their Buddhist preachings.
“The fact that so many people listened to the monks preaching is a good sign which indicates that the Thai people still have their religious faith,” he said.
“The foundation has provided medical and first aid staff to care for any monks who became sick on the way,” he said.
While they are in Phuket, the monks will walk around the island, and attend ritual activities.
In one ceremony, they will pour brass into a Buddha shaped mould at the Big Buddha Statue.
The 65 monks will also take a bath together and clean the Big Buddha statue.
The statue, which can be seen from almost anywhere on the island, is in the final stages of construction.
When it is finished, the statue will be an impressive 45 metres high, and 25 metres across at the base.