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Jun. 8 2010 - 9:48 am | 108 views | 0 recommendations | 3 comments

In Thailand, traffic tunnel faces delays over feng shui concerns

Public works projects rarely go smoothly. If it’s not the cost overruns, it’s the lazy contractors; if it’s not the environmental worries, it’s the worker strikes. But how about bad feng shui?

For elderly ethnic-Chinese residents of Phuket, Thailand, a new traffic tunnel will bring damnation by interfering with the island’s spatial flow. According to legend, the island is protected by a golden sea dragon named Hai Leng Ong. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate — the island is the dragon. The southern tip of Laem Phromthep is the snout, for example, and the southwest coast is part of the abdomen.

But the proposed tunnel — running beneath Patong Hill, and connecting Kathu with Patong — would cut through the dragon’s stomach, killing it. Without the dragon’s protection, critics say, Phuket is doomed. From the Phuket Gazette:

The importance of the sea dragon legend varies from person to person, but there is concern in some quarters that a proposed tunnel beneath Patong Hill connecting Kathu and Patong could ’slay the dragon’.

The proposed tunnel is now the subject of a 40-million-baht study by a Bangkok-based team, which has already made its recommendation on the best possible route.

Phuket, left; Hai Leng Ong, right.

Supporters of the project say the tunnel would decrease traffic accidents on the treacherous Phra Barami Road, while opponents in the Ban Mon community say they would have to sell off their land under eminent domain law. They also claim the elevated roadway would pass over the National Memorial of His Majesty The King’s Footprint, which commemorates HM The King’s visit in 1959.

Now adding to the dissent are some members of the ethnic Chinese community.

Banjong ‘Ko Jong’ Damklam, 67-year-old manager of the San Chao Phor Suea (Tiger God Chinese Shrine) at the road pass over Patong Hill, said some people continue to maintain an active belief in the legend of Hai Leng Ong…

Mr Banjong said any tunnel work should only proceed after the spirits have been appeased.

“If the people insist on the project, I suggest that before construction begins all persons involved in the construction should come to the shrine on Patong Hill to perform a ritual ceremony asking for forgiveness. This should make everything run smoothly,” he said.

But, says one “famous fortune-teller” and radio personality, the tunnel will not kill the dragon because the roadway would actually run beneath the dragon’s heart. According to Ajarn Prasith Jantharasuth, “I have to study in detail to know exactly where the heart lies and which is the best route for the tunnel to avoid it.” The good news is, Ajarn Prasith will ”guarantee” no problems if the tunnel avoids the dragon’s heart.

Feng shui concerns over Phuket tunnel project.


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