Wat Rong Khun Thailand

| May 10, 2013

Stephen Walker was pleasantly surprised by an unplanned visit to a temple in northern Thailand.

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It was the late afternoon of a long day. We had spent the morning in the hills north of Chiang Rai visiting temples and a tea factory (the tea was wonderful and we bought plenty to bring home). After stopping in the city for a quick lunch we headed south to a museum, another temple and Phayao Lake. Our guide was snoozing in the front seat and Helen and I were wondering where to go for dinner when the driver nudged the guide. They had a quick conversation then turned to us and asked if we would like to see another temple before returning to the hotel. I must admit that we were not overly-excited at the prospect but, as it was very close to our route, we agreed.

At the next junction we turned left and there in front of us was the White Temple. Unlike anything we had seen before, except perhaps in fantasy paintings, it shone and sparkled in the setting sun. We parked the CRV and joined the small crowds to wander round the site. The white and silver temple building with its bridge was reflected in the pool that leads up to it. Sculptures of skulls and reaching arms were like scenes from Bosch and Breughel. Images from movies dangled from trees along with what looked like Spanish moss.

Orange robed monks mingled with excited children but, even though it may have looked a little like Disneyland, the atmosphere was respectful and quiet.

In the shade near the gate a few people were gathered surrounding a man lounging on a bench. This was the artist and architect of the temple, Chalermchai Kositpipat. People were having their photographs taken with him and seemed in awe of the man and his achievements. He smiled continuously.

The White Temple is still a work in progress and won’t be finished for many years yet. Some new buildings still have scaffolding, but it certainly doesn’t feel or look like a construction site. It was not on our Cox &Kings itinerary, but was a wonderful surprise that I may well remember longer than other places that we have been on this and other trips. I would love to go back in a few years to see how it has changed.

View Cox & Kings' Thailand holidays.

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