Wat Rong Khun (Visiting the White Temple in Chiang Rai)
We had a fun filled day travelling around Chiang Rai seeing different temples. We saw Wat Rong Suea Ten (The Blue Temple), Baan Dam (Black House Museum) & most notably Wat Rong Khun (The White Temple). The Blue Temple was the least busy of all three, with only a few tourists amongst the midst of us, we were able to walk around freely and take all the uninterrupted pictures we liked. As you walk into the temple grounds entrance, you will see two beautifully sculpted statues of Buddha like figures with serpents and tigers integrated on either side of you. The temple stands out from the rest with its blue sapphire color on the statues and fountains. The entire temple and statues are covered in a vibrant blue with hints of gold in the mix. Wat Rong Suea Ten literally translates to “House of the Dancing Tiger” which makes sense considering the abundance of tiger carvings and integrated statues all over the place. As you walk into the Viharn (Temple assembly hall/main building) you will be greeted with statues of Naga Snakes (Naga is a large mythological snake, often depicted with multiple heads) guarding the temple entrance. Inside the temple holds a large white Buddha sitting cross-legged with beautiful sapphires on the ceiling and paintings on the walls.
Next, we decided to head over to the Black House, which was probably the least interesting of all, yet still a fun time. It is a museum filled with animal remains (alligators, antlers and other remains). It seemed to be a museum based on life and death with all the reproductive organs and animal remains, basically everywhere. Penises… a lot of penises. Like, all over the place. I understand how a woman feels after receiving a lot of unsolicited… pictures. Also, ovaries. Like HUGE statues of ovaries and HUGE dicks everywhere you turn. I felt super inadequate with the size of these dicks. These statues stand there just staring you dead in the eye… or eyes… I don’t even now anymore… you get the picture. Anyway, I had enough of these things poking me in the face every time I turned a corner that we decided to venture on to the White Temple.
Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) is an incredible piece of architecture that should be visited by all. Actually, built and designed by the same man who designed the Blue Temple – Ajarn Chalermchai Kositpipat. The sheer beauty of this temple is astonishing. Everything is white (clearly, as the name depicts) and is magnificent to look at. After entering the main temple grounds, you come up to a bridge leading to the main temple itself. The bridge is supposed to symbolize “the cycle of rebirth” and has a lake of grasping hands underneath of it. The grasping hands represent unrestrained desire amongst humans and the only way for true enlightenment is to forego our greed, temptation and desire. After crossing the bridge, you will come to “the gates of heaven” with two statues, death and Rahu (he who decides the fate of the dead). Upon entering and removing your shoes you will see the sitting Buddha and various motifs on the wall. Walk across the red carpet and join the local Buddhists for a prayer if you’d like (I personally didn’t but many would) and then proceed out the back of the temple and replace your shoes on your feet once you exit.
It was the busiest of all three places we visited, and I would suggest going very early in the morning to avoid the huge crowds and tour groups that we witnessed. Overall, we had a great day exploring what Chiang Rai has to offer. Now, it’s time for some brewskis and a sit down at the pool for some much-needed rest and relaxation.