Buddhist funeral hall to accommodate visitors to Thai flower show

China Post (AP), Oct 28, 2006

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Cheap and quiet accommodation is available for visitors to Thailand's upcoming international horticultural show, but some may find it too quiet - the lodgings are in the funeral hall of a Buddhist temple.

Three million visitors are expected at Royal Flora Ratchaphruek 2006, which opens Wednesday in the northern city of Chiang Mai and lasts until Jan. 31, the Bangkok Post reported Saturday. The yellow, five-petaled ratchaphruek, or golden shower tree, is Thailand's national flower.

The event, being held to honor the country's revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is expected to strain the capacity of the area's numerous hotels and guest houses, so 20 local temples are also throwing their gates open to visitors, the newspaper reported.

At least one temple, Wat Jet Yod, will allow guests to sleep in its funeral hall, where religious rites for the dead are held. The price is a bargain 20 baht (US$0.54; ?0.43) per person per night.

No alcohol is allowed on the temple grounds and guests must refrain from making noise and must bring their own blankets, the temple's abbot, Phra Kru Baideeka Prasert Santipalo, was quoted saying.

"[Some visitors] said they don't fear sleeping in a crematorium as the atmosphere there is not as lonely as in a cemetery," he told the Post.

He also said the temple offers visitors a special package deal including prayer and morality lessons.

So far, 10 tour groups from provinces around Thailand have booked the funeral hall, the abbot said.