A recent visit from Phillip, a friend from Australia, resulted in us deciding to have a look at the Wat in Chalong and it’s well worth putting on your to do list for Phuket. Chalong is an area very close to where I’m staying. Towards the tip of the island of Phuket on the East (left) side of the island.
The history of the Wat is very interesting and ties in with the Chinese involvement with the island in a way you wouldn’t have thought. A good summary can be found HERE.
Driving to the Wat from the villa only took us about 10 minutes and it’s clearly sign posted, an unusual occurrence in Phuket. Being off season there was plenty of parking and we were able to leave the truck under a tree, which was much appreciated when we came to drive off.
The Wat is comprised of a number of buildings all of them very well maintained. The first one you come to on the way in is on the right hand side:
I missed having a guide because it would be interesting to know how these building relate to each other. Next time.
Gaun disappeared and returned with three packages of items, for her, myself and Phillip to be used in ceremony at the main temple (and I didn’t even know there was a ceremony to be had!) Each pack contained two candles, a number of incense sticks and three small flower wreaths. The candles were wrapped in paper, which I almost threw out but I should have know better as nothing is provided without a reason. The paper folds contained super thin gold leaf squares. How does this all end you ask….read on.
The main temple building is next on the left and is open to the public.
Outside in front of the steps leading to the entrance there are two steel troughs and two oil braziers. Slightly behind them two sand filled urns. The idea is that the candles are lit from the braziers, or other candles and placed in the troughs. These are to protect the candles from being blown out as there is a constant sea breeze here in Phuket. Unfortunately this concept need some more design work because it was impossible to get the candles to keep going and even the braziers had been previously extinguished. Oh well. One blessing down. We did manage to get the incense going however and planted them in the urns after the usual three wai’s (bows).
Shoes off and into the main ceremony area:
The significance of three flower wreaths and gold leaf squares can now be seen. At the back of the room there are three Buddha statues, each requiring an offering.
This is only my second visit to a Buddhist temple and what strikes me is that there is none of that place of quiet reflection type of environment in evidence. It is a busy area full of legitimate worshippers coming to make an offering as part of their beliefs mixed with tourists taking photos and people like me who are sort of in-between.
Once you have completed your three wai’s at the front you then move to the back and place a flower wreath with each Buddha and stick a fold of gold leaf on each statue using a spray water bottle if the surface is too dry. Another Thai Buddha ceremony completed.
Heading out of the natural exit if you follow this path you come across the final main building in the group, the tall chedi towards the back of the site:
This is well worth looking at. Inside there is a lovely Buddha room:
The climb to the top viewing platform is also worth the effort. It contains a relic, a bone of Buddha, so is seen as very special, and the view over the complex is great as well:
If at this stage you are needing some refreshments there is a row of stalls to the left of the chedi as you look at it selling tourist stuff and drinks. Limited seating is provided but you might have to share:
On the way out I came across an example of why tourists sometimes get into trouble through ignorance and somehow thinking that everything in their host country has to change to their standards.
This lady was having a great photo opportunity climbing on the elephant statues located on the side of the main temple. We passed a Thai guy on the way in who said something to Gaun in passing. Gaun translated that he was very unhappy that the statues, which were legitimate images of worship and respect, were being used in this way. I am sure Australians would respond in the same way if a bunch of tourists climbed all over a church alter.
So, if you have a couple of hours to spare pop into Wat Chalong and do buy the ceremony pack from just outside the main gates on the way in. You know what to do with it.
Thanks for reading.