Chiang Rai, Part Two

Our next stop was Wat Rong Khun, better known to Westerners as the “White Temple.” This temple was packed with tourists, and had much more of a Disneyworld feel to it. Nevertheless, it was stunning, and Ken did a great job steering us through the crowds, imparting information and reading our mood to get in and get out. The White Temple is more of an exhibit in the style of a Buddhist Temple rather than a practicing religious temple. The designer and owner, Chalermchai Kositpipat, opened it in 1997, and it’s been drawing visitors ever since.img_6495

The main building, or ubusot, is reached by crossing a bridge over a small pond. In front of the bridge, statues of hundreds of outreaching hands symbolize unrestrained desire; the bridge proclaims the way to happiness is to forgo temptation, greed, and desire.

img_6501After crossing the bridge, you reach the “Gate of Heaven” (shoes come off at this point, but back at the original entrance they gave us a free plastic bag to carry our shoes in so that the traffic flow in and out of the temple stays unimpeded).

img_6507 img_6509Inside the ubusot, there are no photos allowed. The ubosot is covered with murals depicting swirling orange flames, demons, Western icons like Michael Jackson, the Avengers, Harry Potter, and Hello Kitty; somewhat of a mixed message in my eyes, but the creator’s intent was to show that people are wicked. At any rate, we finally fought our way through the hordes of (wicked) people, made a quick stop to look at the crematorium on the way out, and got back on the road. I’m glad we saw it, but I was also happy to leave.

img_6513Next up was the small but gorgeous Wat Rong Suea Ten, the “Blue Temple” or “Tiger Temple,” built 11 years ago. This was the smallest temple we saw it, but it was definitely my favorite of the day.

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