Thai cave rescue operation

The only points I'd pick the Guardian up on are that 'most Buddhists (men) become monks for just a few years' and that '30% of Thais can speak English', both of which are massive exaggerations.

Many, possibly most, become monks but generally it's for no more than 90 days, usually during Buddhist Lent - certainly not for a few years, and often only for a few weeks or days. Many will also become monks for a shorter period to make merit on behalf of a relative who has died, or someone important to them (such as Saman Kunan).

Nowhere near 30% can speak English beyond repetition by rote ('My name is ...', etc) which comparatively few understand at all. While previous politicians could speak English, for example, very few of the present VSOs can.

I'd also disagree that the area around Mae Sai is 'lawless', which is simply bad journalism.

I'm disappointed to see that the boys and coach may be going to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep for their time to make merit as monks. This is a very well known, massively commercial temple in Chiang Mai, by far the most tourist orientated outside Bangkok, and there's no possibility that they'll be given any privacy or kept out of the public eye at all - totally the reverse.

It's also 300 kms / five hours away from them, making it virtually impossible for their friends and families to visit them, or to take part in the all-important ordination procession and ceremony. Unfortunately this may be the first sign that the 'powers that be', despite claiming to want to shield them from the media and return them to normality, are themselves going to exploit them for everything they can get out of them, whatever the cost (to the boys).

Unfortunate, unpleasant, but sadly unsurprising.
 
More from the Graun. Note the last bullet point:

Here's what we learned

  • The 12 boys and their coach all appeared remarkably composed and happy at a carefully-controlled press conference to mark their release from hospital after being rescued last week from the Tham Luang cave complex. They all apologised to their parents for putting them through the ordeal. All had agreed to enter the cave.
  • The coach Ekaphol Chantawong, or Ake, said they felt guilty when they were told about the death of Saman Kunan, the former Thai navy Seal who was killed trying to rescue them. The boys thanked their rescuers and medical staff, and paid tribute to Kunan. They also bowed before a portrait of the Thai king.
  • The boys tried to dig for safety when they realised they were trapped by rising water. They managed to burrow a hole into the cave in shifts after the water rose by 3m. They survived only on water until British divers arrived after nine days.
  • All the boys can swim, country to earlier reports, and they to swam to safety when the water first started rising. Coach Ake said he urged the boys not to be scared and reassured them that they would be rescued.
  • None of the boys wanted to leave the cave first when rescuers asked for volunteers. All were considered strong enough to leave on the first day of the rescue. Coach Ake said “no one rushed to get out of the cave because we were so close to one another”.
  • The media was urged to give the boys uninterrupted time with their families so as not to harm their recovery. More than 100 questions were submitted at the press conference. Only a selection of vetted questions were asked.
  • The physical and mental health of the boys was described by a psychologist as “quite good”. The coach confirmed that the boys plan to be ordained as monks as a tribute to Kunan.
  • Four of the team, who are currently stateless, will be granted Thai citizenship. An official said the paperwork had already been submitted.
 
ABC News (Oz) documentary

Excellent bit of reporting from Ch4, with at least the British and Aus interviewed giving credit where it was due. I couldn't but be amused by one of the American military 'experts' asking "hey, is that a re-breather?" and another admitting inadvertantly that the Americans not only didn't all have head torches but didn't even all have torches when they went into the cave, which put things into perspective rather neatly.
More from the Graun. Note the last bullet point.
Let's hope so, but I'm sure plenty of others in the teams are in a similar position. As you said, this could have been resolved already if the interest was genuinely there.

The news about Wat Phra That Doi Suthep makes me think now they're going to be well and truly pushed around and used, and it won't be by the media.
 
After looking at / listening to the actual 'meet-the-press' there were some pretty stunning mis-translations.
  • They didn't say "none had been inside (the cave) before" but that some hadn't but many had, and they'd been some way further inside.
  • They didn't say they "can all swim" , but that some can swim, but most not particularly well (partially corrected later).
  • The coach didn't say he'd only go back in with a guide, but that he'd be happy to go back if asked to be a guide!
There were others, but those were the classics.

(edit: the Guardian seems to be the best of the bunch, obviously with an inside source, so God knows how accurate some of the others are)
 
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DaManBugs

LE
Book Reviewer
ABC News (Oz) documentary

That was very well made and most informative, many thanks for posting it. Although I did notice that there was not one single mention of your man Musk during the whole programme (or of his torpedo thingy). I bet he'll get a major honk on about that too. Probably tweet that it's all an anti-Musk conspiracy or something.

MsG
 
I hadn't realised that Adul Sam-On, the Burmese (Wa) kid who's the media's 'star' and lone English speaker is a Christian - not only previously educated at a Christian school (not unusual at all) but with Christian parents (rather more unusual). That doesn't stop him earning merit as a Buddhist monk (a novice) as Buddhism makes it perfectly acceptable, but once it becomes more known (it hasn't been mentioned in any of the Thai media that I'm aware of) it could be 'interesting'.
 

greyfergie

MIA
Book Reviewer
I hadn't realised that Adul Sam-On, the Burmese (Wa) kid who's the media's 'star' and lone English speaker is a Christian - not only previously educated at a Christian school (not unusual at all) but with Christian parents (rather more unusual). That doesn't stop him earning merit as a Buddhist monk (a novice) as Buddhism makes it perfectly acceptable, but once it becomes more known (it hasn't been mentioned in any of the Thai media that I'm aware of) it could be 'interesting'.
You'd better get on and let them know then
 
I dont understand how it will be 'interesting'?
Possibly because there'll be loads of Christian fundamentalists throughout the world who'll think he's been brainwashed?

I imagine that Christian Thais wouldn't see anything particularly untoward but that's just a guess.
 

DaManBugs

LE
Book Reviewer
Buddism seems rather a pleasant religion, I'm sure they'll be happy for him
Buddhism is a very pleasant religion, as you suspect. It's extremely inclusive and tolerant, allowing you to take from it what you consider best for yourself, without being incessantly cajoled by priests and nuns.

Interestingly, Buddhism was driven out of Siam (now Thailand) a couple of centuries ago and was re-introduced by Buddhist monks from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Which is why the religion in Thailand is generally referred to as "Lankawamsa".

I actually became a Buddhist when I was 16 years old simply because it seemed infinitely more attractive than the shite Irish version of Catholicism that was rammed down our throats practically from birth.

In my view, the ideal mixture for a more peaceful, more equal and ultimately far better world all round would be Buddhism and Socialism.

MsG
 
I dont understand how it will be 'interesting'?
Thailand has been going through a number of governmental and constitutional issues off and on for several decades with 21 different constitutions since 1932 (the end of an absolute monarchy), five in the last two decades just since I've been here.

The last constitution (2017) is the only one in recent times that, while not making Theravadan Buddhism a state religion although that was strongly proposed, increased the significance of and protections for Theravadan Buddhism.

The main pillar of the current government's philosophy is 'Thainess', as @endure mentioned above, and Prayut Chan-o-Cha had close links with Phra Buddha Issara, a well-known right-wing monk (who has since been de-frocked and fallen from grace). Since one of the central players in this drama, who the media have focused on, is neither Thai nor a Theravadan Buddhist I think it'll be 'interesting' to see how that plays out.
Possibly because there'll be loads of Christian fundamentalists throughout the world who'll think he's been brainwashed?

I imagine that Christian Thais wouldn't see anything particularly untoward but that's just a guess.
It isn't a big deal for the vast majority of Thais, who couldn't care less - they're rather pragmatic about such things and the local Christian school here, for example, is popular because it's well funded and well staffed, so if they sing hymns and act in a nativity play at Christmas it's all good clean fun. Some, though, take a different view.
Buddism seems rather a pleasant religion, I'm sure they'll be happy for him
I suggest you and @DMB take a look at the type of Buddhism in Myanmar (Burma), which some are trying to introduce here - it's anything but 'peaceful' or 'pleasant'.
Buddhism is a very pleasant religion, as you suspect. It's extremely inclusive and tolerant, allowing you to take from it what you consider best for yourself, without being incessantly cajoled by priests and nuns.

Interestingly, Buddhism was driven out of Siam (now Thailand) a couple of centuries ago and was re-introduced by Buddhist monks from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Which is why the religion in Thailand is generally referred to as "Lankawamsa".

I actually became a Buddhist when I was 16 years old simply because it seemed infinitely more attractive than the shite Irish version of Catholicism that was rammed down our throats practically from birth.

In my view, the ideal mixture for a more peaceful, more equal and ultimately far better world all round would be Buddhism and Socialism.

MsG
I think you've got your history of Buddhism in Thailand more than a little muddled-up.

Far from "the religion in Thailand (being) generally referred to as 'Lankawamsa' " virtually nobody in Thailand (or anywhere else outside Sri Lanka) would have a clue what you were talking about with 'Lankawamsa'. It's a term that AFAIK's never used outside Sri Lankan Buddhism, certainly not in Thailand, and I've got doubts about how generally used it is even in Sri Lanka.

As for "Buddhism (being) driven out of Siam (now Thailand) a couple of centuries ago and was re-introduced by Buddhist monks from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)" you're about 600 years out as those monks came over to Sukhothai in the 13th century and before, and a couple of centuries ago was when the Chakri dynasty took over, confirming Buddhism's importance - the complete reverse of what you're saying!

Edit: Just to confirm my thoughts I did a Google for 'Lankawamsa' and came up with only three (3) very obscure results which hardly make it how the "religion in Thailand is generally referred to" when 'Theravada' brings up nearly three million (2,770,000)!!

Some things posted as informed opinion on Arrse are seriously unbelievable.
 
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In that case, as the Yank seals probably use oxygen and rebreathers for the very same reason as our lot do, (and I would imagine have a structured training scheme already in place) they might be a better option than a disparate group of amateurs. (And I'm not trying to demean the skills of the cave divers, but do they have the competencies, the resources, and the organisation to do this?)
Diving in caves and learning to conduct rescues and suchlike isn't just a matter of learning the equipment. It's a different mindset. Cave divers would begin as potholers for quite some time becoming familiar with cave structures and cave systems. They would probably add some rock climbing skills along the way too. When they first encounter underground ponds and lakes they probably stop or find another way around them. Their initial interest would be to explore, examine, measure and map the cave system. Along the way, they would invent and trial new techniques and ideas. Literally pioneering this "adventure sport". After gaining experience as a potholer some will learn to dive in order to explore further into the flooded parts. Initially they would probably start as regular divers just to learn the equipment and the science, but all the time thinking about adapting the gear to suit their potholing. Diver training would teach them things such as emergency assents but these would be of little use in a cave with a roof overhead! More suitable are things such as diving in confined spaces; using, deploying and recovering lines, navigation, diving in darkness and so on. If they knew of some extremely deep cave systems they wanted to explore. Then they would probably add technical, mixed-gas diving to the skill set as well.

While regular diving has become standard, or basic, over recent years where it even appears in adverts, on holiday courses and even as activities for kids. Instructors for regular diving are in abundance and just about any diving question can be readily answered... Not so for cave diving. The top names in cave diving over the years and who have gained any decent mount of experience, are the very people who have "invented" the methods they use. You could consider them the likes of Jacques Cousteau or Hans Hass. Except that gloomy cave systems without interesting fish life, aren't the stuff that films and TV shows are made of. So the general public won't get to know anything about the subject from the telly.

So when it comes to finding experts to teach the Thai seals, these mostly civi cave divers are the best choice for the job. Other expertise could come from mine rescue specialists as well, maybe others too. But not particularly from military sources. For example, our Navy Clearance Divers are top rank. Highly trained and very competent, but they wouldn't claim to have the same skill set and knowledge as cave divers.
 
And there goes the thread. Shame really because I have been so close to commenting how free of animosity and general fcukwitedness it had been, up to about #929.
 
I hate to sound like a grumpy old fart whining about western snowflakes but this is a screenshot capture of today's front page of the Times. In the UK 4 year olds are taught about depression whereas in Thailand...

thaikids.png
 

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