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Chiang Rai

Dates: Dec 22, 2016

Route: Drove from Chiang Mai.

Situated in the Golden Triangle (the region bordering Thailand, Myanmar and Laos), the sparkling white temple of Chiang Rai, Wat Rong Khun, attracts thousands of visitors annually. While the outskirts of the city offers peaceful vistas of farms and peaceful rural life, the temple is why people come here. Carved in painstaking detail in white to reflect the purity of the Buddha, the privately-owned temple was created by the devotion and passion of Chalermchai Kositpipat, known primarily for his religion-themed paintings. The entire complex is built to showcase the eternal cycle of man starting with life, then death and then re-birth. Take time to reflect on this message as it goes to the core of what Buddha teaches; that one must end the cycle in order to reach nirvana. Pay close attention to the exquisitely built statues of demons and creatures of mythology over which hangs the serene smile of Buddha. The monks at the temple are friendly and will answer questions you may have. Finally, make sure to visit the toilets which are design to look like a golden temple.

Situated about 10km from the center of Chiang Mai, Baan Dam (Black House) is the unique creation of Thai artist Thawan Duchanee. Serving as a counterpoint to the White Temple, the complex consists of a black temple, art studios, and a mix of around 40 traditional and ultra-modern Thai buildings.  All of these are set in a peaceful garden that is entered via a massive building that has amber-colored teak pillars and imposing double-doors. The inside is a stunning visual that combines elements such as a massive Viking-like table, snake skins, animal skulls and all manner of art. This is Duchanee’s interpretation of Buddhist philosophy and has caused plenty of controversy over the years. Just spending time wandering about lets one draw their own conclusions of Buddha’s work.

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