Progress for pilgrims

CHIANG MAI: Chiang Mai’s famous Phrasingha Temple has unveiled its new 1.6- million-baht public bathroom, which the temple clergy hope will claim this year’s coveted “Toilet of the Year” award. Monks at the temple, which receives hundreds of Thai and foreign tourists a day and as many as 3,000 on Buddhist holidays, saw the need for improvements to its restroom several years ago. So, back in April 2004, a collection box was set up with signs in Thai, English and Japanese explaining that contributions would be used to pay the bathroom attendants’ wages, with any remaining funds to be earmarked for maintenance and future improvements. Some 1.6 million baht later, the bathroom boasts appurtenances more commonly associated with swanky hotels than provincial Thai temples. There are liquid soap dispensers, electric hand dryers, and flowers and small potted plants to provide freshness, plus clearly marked separate stalls for monks and disabled people. The temple also plans to install automatic air fresheners, revealed Assistant Abbot Phra Khru Withi Sasanathorn. Bathroom attendant Srithong Intharat, 52, is proud to work in the facility. “Some people who come here have said it is the cleanest bathroom that they have ever seen. Others say it is just like a bathroom in a five-star hotel and that it is so clean one could lie down and sleep on the floor,” he said. Thai tourist Kannitha Ouanfer did not take a nap on the bathroom tiles, but after using the toilet she remarked that it was the cleanest, most spacious and aesthetically appealing one she had ever seen at a temple. “It is even cleaner than my bathroom at home,” she conceded. “Before, I never enjoyed visiting temples because, as a woman, I was uncomfortable answering the call of nature in a dirty bathroom. And at some temples the bathrooms are so filthy I am afraid to even go in. “So I have to say that I am extremely impressed with the bathroom here at Wat Prasingha Temple. I wish all temple bathrooms were as clean as this.” Phra Khru Withi said that the temple conducted a study of bathroom facilities in airport lounges and fancy hotels before coming up with its final design. He plans to enter the bathroom in the Ministry of Health’s “Toilet of the Year” competition. The contest, organized by the Hygiene Department, has a separate category for toilets in places of religious worship.

Thailand News
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