Koh Samui’s Wat Khunara is a fairly standard Buddhist temple were it not for one special attraction: the displayed mummified corpse of Luong Pordaeng. Born in 1894, Luong Pordaeng was a Buddhist abbot who died in 1973, seated in a mediating position. To die in this position is believed to be one of the highest forms of incarnation.
It is said that a few months prior to his death, Luong Pordaeng felt he was going to die soon and informed his students of his impending departure from the living world. He directed his students to follow two different instructions depending on the outcome of his death. Were his body to decompose, he instructed his to students to burn his body into ashes and scatter them across a famous intersection in Hua Thanon, Koh Samui. However if he didn’t decompose, he wished that his body was to be put on display in the hope that it would inspire the younger generation to follow the teaching of Buddha and be rescued from suffering.
Though the idea of mummification evokes images of scary horror films, it was actually a strangely appealing figure to look at. Unlike Egyptian mummies where they are wrapped in bandages, the monk’s body was merely cloaked in his traditional orange Buddhist rope. The glass case in which the Monk’s body is displayed in is not some technologically advance preservation chamber you see when visiting places like Lenin's Mausoleum. It’s simply just a glass box with oxygen. With this in mind, you’d be surprised to find the Monk’s body is impressively well preserved; believed to be attributed to the strict diet of a Buddhist monk. Not bad for a man who has been dead for more than 40 years!
Funnily enough, one thing that I was immediately drawn to was not the mangily decaying body of a revered monk, but the fact that he was wearing very cool Ray Ban sunglasses… and I’m sure they weren’t cheap knock-off Ray Bans as well! The official reason for the Ray-Bans is to respectfully cover his disintegrated eyes, but I’d prefer to think that it’s because this monk achieved the highest level of coolness. He’s in fact was probably the very first hipster monk in history!
By Brendan Wan
Brendan won himself a Thai Island Hopper tour in Contiki's blogging competition and will be blogging his way around three fascinating islands this month so stay tuned!