"Fifty years ago, Luang Poh Yaai lived as a Buddhist monk - a first for a woman in Thailand where religious authorities bar females from the monkhood. Today some get round the ban by getting ordained abroad and returning to live in monasteries for women.
The temple of Wat Thamkrabok sits at the foot of a sweeping, craggy outcrop in the countryside north of Bangkok. Its courtyard is shaded by ancient trees.
Once a day, its temporary residents kneel alongside a grate that covers a deep drain, and breathe deeply. Next to each of them is a metal bucket full of drinking water. In turn, they are offered a small glass of dark liquid, poured by a monk from an ancient bottle. They drink.
Within seconds the still air is assaulted by the sound of retching. As the young men vomit into the drain, the monks offer encouragement, tell them to keep drinking water, and place reassuring hands on bare shoulders."
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