Spirituality is a concept that resonated a lot with me during my trip to Thailand. The best way to experience it is to go to temples so I visited three and amongst them there was Wat Rong Khun. Thai temples are usually grand and magnificent for all their golden ornaments and wood carvings. Well, Wat Rong Khun, located fifteen minutes away by taxi from Chiang Rai in north Thailand, couldn’t be more different from that description.
When Chul mentioned visiting Wat Rong Khun, I really didn’t know what to expect. It is the only white temple in the country which makes it unique. From the brochure I saw, it looked amazing but I couldn’t helped being a tiny bit skeptical because it was built 18 years ago by native artist Chalermchai Kositpitpat. To me, Wat Rong Khun really embodies the commercial side of buddhism and yet, I still can feel its spirituality. From afar the temple looked amazingly dazzling but the nearer we got the more we started noticing some wacky things.
Chalermchai Kositpitpat designed its entrance as a path through hell. And it does actually feel that way. Before walking that path towards the temple, disturbing sculpted hands welcome the visitors. But what impressed me the most was the display of prayers and wishes. It seemed you had millions of them hanging on the ceiling of a portico.
Wat Rong Khun is definitely a weird experience. With its mixture of sacred and profane, this temple really is dumbfounding and fascinating. Some tourist compared it to Disney and it’s an occidental point of view I don’t want to acknowledge because Wat Rong Khun is a sacred place. The monk and the numerous believers coming from all over Asia to pray was enough to convince me.
If you have the occasion to go to Chiang Rai, I suggest you to visit Wat Rong Khun. The experience will definitely make you think. At first, I didn’t enjoy the visit as much because as much as the outside is weirdly incredible, the inside is disappointing. Next to the temple, there is a museum dedicated to Chalermchai Kositpitpat and a shop selling reproductions of his art. Going out from the temple and seeing this, we felt a little bit like in a wackier version of Dragon Ball Z. And this is exactly because it’s that wacky that you should go! This is not a religious monument like any other I have seen so far.
Have you ever been to Wat Rong Khun? Have you ever visited a monument, a place that left you both dumbfounded and fascinated?