Valentines from Deep South – Day Two

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Day Two. Saturday, 14 February 2015

Today’s Valentine’s Day. I have always claimed that Shans are entitled to celebrate it, because they have their own Khun Hsarm Law’s Day, which in some years falls on the same day as the more well known one. Only Shans count their days by the lunar calendar and not solar.

But Valentine or Khun Hsarm Law, I’m going to give my best to the people here who are looking for ways to learn about peace processes in the neighboring countries in order that they may be able to apply at least a little from each to suit their conditions.

They tell me they have already learned something about the Aceh and East Timor processes. Burma’s next.

(What I present here and their feedback are already reported on 17 February, under the headline ‘No Panglong for Deep South’.)

There I have a chance to renew my friendship with Don Pathan, who was still working with The Nation when I first saw him more than 20 years ago.

Then comes the time to show me around.

krue-se-mosque
Krue Sae Mosque

First to the Krue Sae Mosque, said to be constructed by Mustaffah Shah, a Chinese convert to Islam, in 1470. I’m a bit surprised because it is much smaller than I thought when I watched it on TV in 2004 during a shootout between militants and the Thai security forces. The prayer hall can seat only 66 merit makers.

There is however foundation for expanding it. Only it has never been expanded, says my host lady. According to local folklore, the Shah’s sister had tried to persuade him to return to his old faith. He refused to. The sister was then shipwrecked on departure. The grieved Shah then built a memorial near the mosque. True or not, I must admit it’s a touching story.

Central Mosque
Central Mosque

We are then off to the Central Mosque, which is sort of like a mini-Taj Mahal. Sadly I’m not allowed to go in, so I take a photo of myself sitting at the man made lake in front of it.

They then tell me Dr Chaiwat Satha-Anand will be the next to give his presentation tomorrow. Having heard of him for a long time as a non-violence activist, I ask if I can attend it during the morning session before I leave for Hatyai. To my delight and gratitude, my hosts say yes.

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