Our Temple du Jour was so wildly over the top we could hardly believe our eyes. This is Wat Rang Khun, the White Temple. This extravaganza is the artistic vision of one man, Ajern Chalermchai Kostipipat, and over 60 artisans working full time for 16 years. He estimates it will take 90 years to complete.
It is all white, with mirror mosaics all over the surface, so that it glitters like a crystal palace. The iconography represents the Buddhist versions of heaven and hell. The temple grounds are filled with rococo buildings and devotional stations, including probably the worlds most gorgeous "happy room", all gilded inside and out. They even require you to remove your shoes and put on a pair of rubber sandals before using the facilities!
Inside the temple painters are hard at work creating huge murals on all the walls. At the front sits a giant golden Buddha surrounded by paintings of people in winged vessels on their way to Nirvana. The back wall which Buddha gazes at is the face of a giant demon, covered in familiar symbols of our modern world. Here are the Twin Towers in flames, wrapped in gasoline pump hoses dripping petroleum into the greedy mouths of humans. We saw George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden riding together on a weaponized missile. Superman, Batman, Spider Man, Tomb Raiders, Star Wars, Kung Fu Pandas, Michael Jackson, Angry Birds, mountains of automatic assault weapons, and so much more all designed as part of the face if the demon. It is brilliant, powerful and bold and it makes a potent political statement.
One of the loveliest things was outside where for about $1 you can buy an aluminum bodhi leaf decorated with beads and a Thai prayer. They provide a writing area where you can add your own prayer or wish. Then the leaf is added to what must be a million others as part of a long silver canopy, or part of a silvery tree. So beautiful!
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Location:Chiang Rai, Thailand