It’s like walking inside somebody’s imagination. This is the second place in the world I’ve really felt like I am living in a dream, perfectly sculpted by someone else’s brilliant mind. The first place was a religious one too; that was La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. This one is Wat Rong Khun, the white temple, in Chiang Rai.
This temple is a must-visit if you’re heading to the north of Thailand. A surreal, white vision is blinding in the bright sunshine. You’re almost unable to look at the day-dream like structure, constructed entirely from white and silver materials and mirrors. Every inch of the place is intricately designed and thought out, and it’s certainly not finished yet.
As I walk round the complex, the gnarled hands of hell creep up towards my ankles, while decapitated Marvel figures, both heroes and villains, hang eerily from ghostly white trees. Pop culture references are everywhere and the artist has made it clear who he believes is on the side of the light and who isn’t. Besides the bright, cartoon interior of the temple, there is also some more traditional Buddhist imagery to be found too, elaborate sculptures representing the cycle of life and death and Buddhas sit serenely amongst the sometimes chaotic art.
Beautiful crystal-like peices of the artist’s imagination spring from the ground all over the complex, ornate bridges lead you in the scorching heat over the carp pond surrounding the centre of the temple. There is a circular well-like-thing, where you can throw coins from your place on the zodiac for luck (who’d have thought it eh?) and deamons and guardians staring down at me, judging, from all angles.
I loved the bizarre, surreality and beauty in this place. It was an oddly uplifting place for me, sort of a light-hearted spiritual, although I’m sure its creator would beg to differ, and certainly an eye opener.
Thanks as always to Alex, for generously lending me his photos, when mine don’t turn out that well! And you can learn more about the temple here.