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Thursday - 6 August 2020

The Most Terrifying Place in Thailand?

The way to happiness – Apparently, is by foregoing temptation, greed and desire; Oh and by crossing a bridge over hundreds of outreaching and grabbing hands!

Chang Rai BridgeYesterday we took a trip to the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) in the Chiang Rai Province – from a distance the temple looks pristine, bright white in colour with small mirror fragments helping to reflect the Thai sun.

It’s only when you start to get close that things turn slightly more macabre….

On top of the red and white traffic cones sits four red skulls pointing to the four corners of the compass, the trees leading up to the entrance have ’shrunken head’ style faces dangling from them, some recognizable (Batman, Hellboy etc) and some not so much.

chang-rai-shrunken-headsWater features surrounding the temple are filled with huge Koi Carp and the odd water breathing dragon, there is even the face and torso of Schwartzenegar‘s ‘Predator’ rising from the ground nearby.

The whole beautiful but often perplexing ’work of art’ is the brainchild of Chalermchai Kositpipat, a visual artist from Thailand, he owns the land and owns up to be behind the entire exhibit – and purported to have sunk over THB 40M of his own cash into the project that opened in 1997.

The main event is the Ubosot, it is an amazing structure that merges classic Thai architecture with Chalermchai’s art and vision. You get to it over the bridge of ’the cycle of rebirth’ I mentioned earlier and through the gate of heaven which is guarded by two creatures who decide the fate of the dead.

wat-rong-khun-the-white-temple-in-thailand-11Inside the Ubosot things brighten up a little, well sort of. There are huge brightly colored murals that depict man’s meanness (nuclear warfare, terrorism etc) with familiar faces such as Spiderman and Elvis thrown in for good measure. And of course a huge Buddha to pray to.

It’s free to visit so obviously well worth the trip but it’s also a great place to self reflect and admire this very unusual exhibit.

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