The next morning we left Chaing Khong and drove to Chiang Mai via Chiang Rai. At Chiang Rai we visted Wat Rong Khun – the White Temple by artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. A glaring white and covered in tiny mirrors, this glorious beacon encourages dark eyewear. This temple is unlike any Buddhist temple you have ever seen. The red skull road cones that we passed on the way and the life size Predator stuck in the grass outside were fairly bold suggestions. The decapitated heads hanging from trees was a pretty blatant give away that this was no serene place of meditation.
If you find all this fairly interesting, you must go inside the White Temple. No photography was permitted but the unfinished murals on the wall inside are incredible. The artist relies heavily on pop culture icons as well political figures to create an inspiring, modern scenes of doom and glory. Bush, Bin Laden, Avatar, Neo from The Matrix, Spiderman, Batman are a few of the unconventional characters found on the inside walls of this temple.
This huge project, which will include 9 buildings began in 1997 and there is still a lot of work to do. Estimates of up to 20 years have been projected for completion. I would love to come back when this place is finished. It will be spectacular!
The large souvenir shop is interesting and very well priced. We bought a few postcards (10B each / 40c NZ), The Koala bought several of the artist’s t-shirts for 300 Baht / $12NZ each and I bought a rabbit print for about 100 Baht / $4NZ.