Buddhist Authority Chides Sea-Cruising Monks

Monks on a sightseeing trip near Koh Laoya  in Trat province. Photo: Chayathon Robrujane / Facebook

TRAT — The national Buddhist authority clarified that sightseeing in coral reefs and swimming are forbidden by Buddha’s teachings, if you’re a monk.

The warning came after photos spread on Facebook of monks on an excursion off the coast of Trat. The head of the Office of National Buddhism in that province said such fun is banned under Buddhist dogma, which prohibits monks from enjoying recreational activities.

“It’s considered a minor arbat,” said Santi Dinmuang, referring to a Pali word for a monk transgressions. “But in the eyes of society, it’s deeply inappropriate.” 



Monks on a sightseeing trip near Koh Laoya  in Trat province. Photo: Chayathon Robrujane / Facebook

Facebook user Chayathon Robrujane posted the photos Jan. 24 and said he spotted the ship full of monks near Koh Laoya. The monks were about to dive into the sea when he saw them, he wrote in a post that was removed by Thursday afternoon.

Santi, the head of Trat’s Buddhist authority, said he asked boat operators in the province about the incident. They told him the monks were from different temples in Bangkok traveling together. He added that he did not know which temples. 

“They said there was a group of monks who hired a ship for a coral reef sightseeing trip,” Santi said. “The boat captain actually knew they were monks and knew it was inappropriate, so he took them to a secluded area in the bay, but someone still spotted them, and photos spread very quickly on social media.” 

Santi added he has already sent letters to all boat operators, telling them to respect religious rules when it comes to doing business with monks.

“They can go on a tour, but it has to stay within acceptable boundaries,” he said. 

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