After Adam had put his foot down and we went off-roading on our first day in Chiang Rai, I insisted we go and see the city’s most famous tourist attraction, The White Temple on our second day.
Before we made our way to get the bus we took all our clothes, shoes and bags that we had been wearing on our ATV adventure the previous day to a laundry service. The ladies were slightly baffled by the state of our clothing which were completely covered in thick orange dust. We desperately needed everything washed though as we were planning to leave Thailand the next day.
After a spot of lunch in a lovely little family owned restaurant near our guesthouse we made our way to the central bus station. The White Temple is a half hour bus ride away from the centre of Chiang Rai on a local bus. We asked the tourist information desk to point us to the right platform and also to write down the name of the temple for us in beautifully drawn Thai letters so that we could hand it to the bus driver. We had found that when asking for directions the Latin letters can be just as incomprehensible to Thais then the Thai alphabet to us.
We handed the note to the driver, paid 20 Bahts (£0.40) each for the fare and enjoyed the local bus ride through town to the temple. The heat on the crammed bus was stifling, helped only a little by all windows and doors being open while moving. Be careful of tuktuk drivers offering you a ride to the temple for an inflated price! They will tell you not to take the bus because it’s a very long walk from the bus stop to the temple. Actually we only had to cross a busy road.
Also known as Wat Rong Khun, The White Temple is actually a privately owned Buddhist temple, and you guessed it, it’s completely white! It’s beautiful and very unique amidst the dozens of wats we have already seen and the thousands in Thailand. Interestingly this temple is owned by an artist called Chalermchai Kositpipat, who also designed and built it!
The white temple is a very popular tourist attraction, and you can see why:
It’s beautiful! Slightly resembles a wedding cake…
Just with any other Buddhist temples you have to be respectful when entering the grounds and the temple itself and must wear modest clothing. At the entrance white sarongs are given to ladies with short skirts and shorts.
When you enter the grounds the artist’s works are showcased all around, which can make this visit to a Buddhist temple a bit surreal; like this fella climbing out of the ground, who eerily resembles The Predator…:
The temple is approached via a bridge over a lake. In front of the bridge are hundreds of hands reaching up apparently symbolising desire, greed and temptation. According to Buddhist teaching we have to overcome these to reach happiness. Once the bridge is crossed you walk through ‘The Gate of Heaven’ which is guarded by two creatures who decide who can enter through the gates.
A lot of the building is covered in mirrored glass, reflecting the rays of the sun.
Apart from the temple there are 5 or 6 other buildings on the grounds, including a meditation centre, a house for monks, a gallery of the vast collection of the artist’s previous works and a very ornate gold building that serve as the toilets…
To return to Chiang Rai we decided to get a taxi back as the sun had started to go down and we weren’t quite sure where the bus stop actually was… For 150 Bahts (£3.15) we got a quick ride back to town.
We collected our freshly laundered clothes and took them back to our guesthouse only to realise that most items still had a definite orange dust coating where the dirt ate its way into the fabric :-S
We decided to have dinner at the same place we had lunch at: the lovely family owned restaurant by our guesthouse. The food was delicious, the family who lived here were so so lovely and this time the father and the son as well as some of the son’s friends were watching the Liverpool – Manchaster game to Adam’s great delight! Once we finished dinner Adam asked them to join in the viewing and I left them to it.
I walked back to the guesthouse to get ready for our big journey tomorrow.