Wat Rong Khun or the White Temple is literally 5 minutes drive from our house so it was our first tourist stop on our first full day in Chiang Rai.
The temple is such a visual experience that this blog entry is mostly photos. Most of the words below that give some background to the temple and are not mine but borrowed from the web with particular thanks to Ian Ord as published on asiarooms.com.
Wat Rong Khun, or the White Temple, is no ordinary Buddhist temple. Whereas most temples have a history dated back many centuries, the construction of this ornate white temple only started in 1998 and it’s a work in progress as new structures are being built even to this day.. The temple is designed by renowned Thai visual artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, who often refers to it as an offering to his religious belief and his country. The White Temple is now a national landmark, and one of the most recognizable temples in Thailand.
Before arriving at the gates, you can already tell that there’s something truly spectacular about this place. The immense complex of the White Temple is, as the name states, almost entirely white, with small reflective mirrors ornately decorating it.
The reason the White Temple lacks a bit of its traditional composure, is not necessarily in the design of the temple itself, but the decorations that fill and surround it. Its purpose is to represent the battle between good and evil – much evil, of course, comes from Hollywood movies and modern warfare. Walking around the grounds, you will see head sculptures hanging in trees, sins such as smoking and alcohol, and even some recognizable characters such as Predator, from the self-titled movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Crossing over a bridge of purgatory with countless sculpted hands reaching towards you, you enter the main structure. The entire walkway is an experience in itself, as you become part of the transition from a world of sin, to a place of enlightenment.
Inside the White Temple, the walls are completed with a mural telling a story of this transition. The back wall represents ‘hell’, with images of Neo (from the Matrix), Superman, nuclear explosions, and even saw Sponge-Bob Squarepants on there. The side walls have people floating on clouds of enlightenment, while the front mural is where a blissfully enlightened Buddha awaits you.
My words now!
The White temple is a wonderful spectacular creation and alive with tour groups offloading from buses. Because of this I thought that the purpose of the building as a temple has been lost as it is overwhelmed by us happy snappers on the thirty minute White temple experience.
I did love the wild exterior and then the contrast with the inside temple room, where one can’t take photos, which apart from the mural covering the walls (work in progress) is extremely simple. To me it represented the contrast between the distractions and attractions of the outside world originating from the simple point of silence and peace within.
Having ticked off my spiritual experience for the day we then headed into Chiang Rai city to do some western shopping at Centra mall. Essentials such as milk, butter, gin and tonic all amply covered.
Thanks for reading.