Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Wat Rong Khun

After leaving Mae Sai it was already late afternoon, so we arrived at the extraordinary tempe Wat Rong Khun (วัดร่องขุ่น) just shortly before it was closed for the day. I had never heard anything about the Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat before, so when hurrying through the gallery next to the temple before it was closed at 5 PM I did not get much about his art either. But that is no wonder, as I still don't know much about Thai Buddhism nor the Thai art. Anyway, even for a ignorant farang the temple is very impressive, and it's no wonder it is becoming a tourist attraction of Chiang Rai now.

The temple is located on Thai highway 1, on the way from the city Chiang Rai towards the south, about 10 km from the city. Exit at the intersection with road 1208. The temple is just a few metres away from the intersection, quite impossible to miss the striking white ornate building if you have taken the right exit from the main highway.

When we visited the place in 2006, the temple already looked nearly finished, at least the whole front part was complete, and construction was limited to the sides and behind of the central room holding the Buddha image - unlike normal temples it is actually a huge Buddha painting with only small statue in front. But already when you enter the temple over the bridge, the corpses in the water under the bridge are something never seen in Buddhist temples. But I guess to fully get all the symbolism within the building one has to find a book explaining all about it, but there was nothing like that in English in the souvenir shop. Maybe after the temple will be finished this year it will have someone bother to write something for those who cannot read Thai.

While I was strolling around the place, I was suddenly called to pose for a family photo - somehow someone from family caught the artist himself, and apparently he didn't mind to pose with us. Pity I did not know his importance then, otherwise I would have tried to do a portrait photo for Wikipedia as well.

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