Thailand

Lake Songkhla and Andaman Sea
Vases planted by Minette Lee Mangahas and Eugene Romaniuk, August 2014

“Southern Thailand is a place that has been fraught with turmoil between Buddhist and Muslim communities in the last century. The city of Songkhla in particular is considered a red zone because of intermittent bombings in public places such as markets and hotels. So we decided it would be a good idea to place a vase there—in Lake Songkla—so that its blessings may flow throughout the region via its tributaries up the coast and its mouth into the Gulf of Thailand. Thailand is a very narrow strip of land here between the Gulf and the Andamman Sea. Since the city is just a few hours journey from the Andamman Sea on the west coast, we decided to fulfill the placement there as well.

We put 2 vases in concrete tubs (repurposed 1L plastic bottles) and wrapped them in cloth and ribbon so that they would be camouflaged and look more like temple offerings when we would inevitably get interrogated by customs at the Bangkok Airport. Luckily, we had the letter from the Peace Vase Project translated into Thai. So when we were stopped by the authorities at security and questioned, the letter proved instrumental in them trusting us enough to let us board with the bases checked in.

We arrived at the Hatyai Airport in late evening and passed open fires in the middle of the road on the way to the hotel. We learned later that a midnight rally was happening and the fires may have been lit by the police, perhaps at checkpoints, to slow down traffic or deter whatever they may. The next morning we hired a car and headed for Ko Yo island in Lake Songkhla. It is not a tourist destination so no boats were ready for hire. But we found a quiet temple guarding a cave shrine where the abbot was able to read our letter and send someone to wake up a local fisherman who could give us a ride. It was difficult to explain what we were doing, since no one spoke English. So we pretended to want to take pictures of a nearby bridge, and when the fisherman turned his back to attend to his motor, we stealthily dropped our package into the lake. The fisherman was a little confused when we then asked him to take us back to the pier.

We spent the night on the Andaman coast at Mu Koh Petra National Park. Then hired a boat the next day to take us into the ocean as far as the monsoon waves would allow so we could make the drop there. Again, we kept our mission from our guides and pretended we wanted to see Bu Lon Island, about 2 to 3 hours from the pier. After a short lunch and tour of the tiny island, the boatman drove around it and on the south side we dropped the vase facing the sea.”