Thai cave turns into tourist at­trac­tion after foot­ballers’ res­cue

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - International Business -

THE dra­matic res­cue of a youth foot­ball team and its coach from a cave in north­ern Thai­land caught the world’s at­ten­tion from late June to early July.

Peo­ple ev­ery­where sent their sup­port to the team, called the “Wild Boars,” while the res­cuers, con­sist­ing of Thai and for­eign divers, plus a large num­ber of vol­un­teers worked against the clock to bring them out of the partly flooded cave alive.

The res­cue op­er­a­tion fi­nally suc­ceeded to global ac­claim for the tire­less ef­forts of those in­volved, es­pe­cially the div­ing team that lost a mem­ber. Sa­man Ku­nan, a for­mer Thai Navy SEAL, died on the way back from his mis­sion in­side the cave in Chi­ang Rai prov­ince.

Shortly after the res­cue team moved out and the cave area was tem­po­rar­ily closed for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, a num­ber of vis­i­tors from Chi­ang Rai and other prov­inces came to see the scene that they watched via news footage.

An ac­coun­tant for a com­pany, Akarin Si­wong, 38, one of the vis­i­tors, said he brought his fam­ily and friends to visit Tham Luang Nang Non cave so they could see the place where the boys and coach were trapped.

“We watched and fol­lowed the news of the Wild Boars team trapped in­side for many days, so it is good to see how it looks in re­al­ity,” he said.

An­other group of women from Bangkok said they in­tended to visit after mak­ing merit in Chi­ang Rai be­cause they wanted to see the cave. “I watched tele­vi­sion and sent them moral sup­port at the be­gin­ning when I heard they were trapped in­side,” one of them said.

“The strangers whom I want to meet” was one of pop­u­lar hash­tags on Thai so­cial me­dia be­fore the divers found the boys and their coach. The hash­tag was in­ter­preted as a hope to find them alive.

“I’m re­joic­ing be­ing here to see the cave and to pay my re­spects to the god­dess Nang Non for pro­tect­ing them while they were trapped,” the woman tourist added.

A lo­cal of­fi­cial told Ky­odo News that the num­ber of vis­i­tors to the area dra­mat­i­cally in­creased fol­low­ing the res­cue, rang­ing from sev­eral hun­dred to 1000 on week­days and up to 2000 on week­ends.

“Com­pared with the few vis­i­tors here in the past, many more peo­ple are com­ing to Tham Luang Nang Non,” he said, adding that most of them were Thai.

Con­struc­tion of a mu­seum is un­der way out­side in the vicin­ity as a memo­rial to the cave res­cue and to Sa­man, whose statue will be placed in the mu­seum. The large num­ber of vis­i­tors is gen­er­at­ing in­come for lo­cal peo­ple, who have set up shops and stalls sell­ing drinks and lo­cal prod­ucts.

Krongsin Kham­bun­choo, 35, one of the ven­dors, be­gan sell­ing drinks and T-shirts in a mo­bile stall after the au­thor­i­ties al­lowed lo­cal en­trepreneurs to set up stalls.

“We started sell­ing around early Au­gust, and we’re mak­ing good money due to the num­ber of tourists,” she said.

The cave res­cue was a mir­a­cle for Krongsin, who be­lieved that the boys and coach were saved be­cause of the in­ter­ces­sion of the god­dess known to lo­cal peo­ple as Nang Non.

The moun­tain where the cave is lo­cated is shaped like a re­clin­ing woman. It was named after an an­cient story of a princess who fell in love with a groom in the palace. Due to a pro­hi­bi­tion against such li­aisons, the lovers de­cided to flee and hide in the cave.

Ac­cord­ing to the story, the groom told the princess to wait in­side while he went out for food, but he never re­turned, and she later found out her lover was killed.

The princess, heart­bro­ken, de­cided to com­mit sui­cide with a hair­pin, lay­ing down her bloody body in the cave, which came to be called Nang Non, mean­ing “re­clin­ing lady” in Thai.

Photo: EPA

Thai sol­diers walk to a cave dur­ing the res­cue op­er­a­tion for miss­ing foot­ball play­ers and their coach at Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chi­ang Rai, Thai­land, on June 28.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.