When the ocean came to the airport

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.


It’s 30 metres long, three metres wide, 5.5 metres high and is set to land at Suvarnabhumi Airport when the new facility opens in Bangkok on Thursday. But we’re talking oceans not aircraft here. It’s called the Churning of the Milk Ocean and it’s one of the most remarkable features within any airport in the world.

Commissioned and funded to the tune of US$1.1 million by Suvarnabhumi master concessionaire King Power, the sculpture depicts the Vishnu Kurmavatara and the Churning of the Milk Ocean. The naga (King of Serpents), Vasuki, is curled around the mountain Mandara. Vishnu, incarnated in the form of a great turtle. Devas (demigods) and Asuras (demons) pull on the naga’s body to churn the water of the ocean for thousands of years in order to produce the nectar of immortality, Amrita.

The project is King Power Chairman Vichai Raksriaksorn’s brainchild – born out of his determination to give Suvarnabhumi a suitably grand Thai landmark. It’s a fantastic gesture and one whose return will be a thousand-fold though not in commercial terms. Vichai told a reporter from the Bangkok Post whimsically: “If passengers spend all the time admiring the sculpture, they won’t have time for shopping. Then what should we do?”

One suspects Suvarnabhumi travellers will find time to do both.

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