The pace of Artiwara “Toon” Kongmalai’s cross-country run to raise money for 11 public hospitals slowed somewhat in Ayutthaya on Thursday morning when he had to walk beneath the bellies of three elephants.
But it was part of a warm reception in the historic city, a traditional ceremony meant to ensure his efforts are successful.
Toon and his running mates reached a designated resting point in front of a petrol station at Kilometre 41 on Highway 340 at 8.40am.
The revered Phrakru Kasem Chanthawimol, abbot of Wat Pom Raman, blessed the group with sacred water and the elephants were aligned so the team could ritually walk beneath them.
The organiser of the ceremony presented them with Bt2.2 million collected in the province. Toon hopes to raise Bt700 million by the time he reaches the northern tip of Thailand in Chiang Rai.
Toon thanked the people of Ayutthaya, saying it was the first time he’d walked under an elephant.
He reiterated his message to admirers that he’s not the real hero, but rather it’s the doctors and nurses at public hospitals who are the heroes.