The White Temple of Thailand
The Thailand architecture has a new icon, a modern temple earn more adepts every year, by its magnificence and beauty.
Barbara opened the room curtains of the Hotel, Alfredo undid the luggage, he didn’t like too that his belongings were «tight» in a suitcase, not even when it was a Bossa Nova of Rimowa brand. Barbara, however, couldn’t stand the claustrophobia, she needed light, as much as possible, and the room that their parents had reserved for them could not be better equipped, «we are at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit« she thought, a hotel five-star Luxury Collection.
They do not want to look their faces, this trip to Bangkok was not idea of them and they are rather uncomfortable. Their parents had organized for that they «closed» differences, were very concerned about the escalation of tension, which had been increasing between brother and sister, from the last Christmas. Alfredo and Barbara were born the same day, at the same time, and, just a few minutes between the times in which for the first time they watch the world. They have the same physiognomy, they are almost identical, but their personalities did not have points in common.
Two conditions had been imposed by their parents: should sleep in the same room and should visit together a temple called Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai. Although they protested strongly, it was clear that, put in the balance, the conditions were bearable if the prize was to travel to Thailand (nobody says NO to go to the Country of the Smiles). When they had organized their room, laid the foundations of their holiday in common.
- They would not talk outside the room, except, obviously, in a situation of danger.
- The romantic relationships would be out of the room.
- The right side of the bed would always be to Alfredo.
- Barbara would go first to the service in the morning and second in the night.
- They would go to visit the temple on the seventh day, in the middle of their (forced) holidays.
They fulfil the specifications of their «contract» rigorously, and enjoyed as dwarves from their early days. Thailand is a huge country, full of the most enriching experiences: they tested the waters of its incredible beaches, visited the ancient temples, made hiking by its fantastic forests, tasted the unique Thai food, and certainly they enjoyed its millennial massage. The sixth day came almost without realize.
They are no longer at war, the stay was starting to take effect, the eternal kindness of the inhabitants of the country was changing them to best. Their relation remained cold, but they not sought to injure each other with each comment. The trip by plane took little more than one hour to arrive to Chiang Rai, and from there to the Temple took only 30 minutes by taxi. By a few Baht (local currency) they were front to the complex, perplexed, almost without believe, they were observing the Temple, shake their hands as a reflex act.
Wat Rong Khun is called the White Temple, obviously, just need to see it to imagine why: its plastic outer skin gives you a superb proof. His creator, the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, bought this ancient temple which was already rebuilt in the twenties of the last century. The rebuilding was not completed due to lack of budget, but the new owner invested all his savings in a renovation that, even today, is underway.
It opened its doors in 1997 and, since then, its legend has been growing and the works that run on it. It is one of the most visited temples in Thailand, among its many curiosities is seeing «in situ», and if you’re lucky, the father of the creature, during the construction that will not stop until the middle of this century, not in vain, the artist has designed nine buildings. The temple is a nearly perfect blend between the past and the present and, perhaps, the future of traditional Thailand architecture. Its buildings retain the typical roofs in terrace, although, this time, its structures are made of reinforced concrete and not with wood or stone.
At the entrance, a fish pond separated the main building or Ubosot, you have to go through the Reincarnation Bridge (represents the passage from death to life), in which a hundred hands protrude menacingly, a show that petrified to the brothers. As good believer, Chalermchai, perfectly underlines all the mythological details, thus, two impressive silver fangs franking the entrance, where two figures of Kinnaree (creatures from Buddhist mythology, between men and birds) escorted to Alfredo and Barbara on their pilgrimage across the bridge.
From there, and through a walkway full of details, is reached the Gate of Heaven, guarded by two Rahus representing the death. The Ubusot is steeped of symbolism, hundreds of snakes, dragons and mythological creatures roam every outdoor space, the white of its walls is enhanced by pieces of glass, which reflect the light giving the building a mysterious halo. Inside, a Buddha of marble presides the stay, but the most amazing thing of all is the mural that runs along the walls.
In it, realistic figures of Superman, Spiderman, the actor Keanu Reeves in his role as Neo (Matrix), the twin towers of the World Trade Center, a space battle in which incurred a few curious aliens and many other contemporary characters… Alfredo and Barbara looked at each other, now yes, with the mind very groggy, that moment was the more surreal who they had lived in his twenty-two years of existence.
The time flew, with a perception strange, at the end of the day, they remembered that had entered in another unique building, the only one whose color was not white, the House of Gold, which is the gallery of the artist, a Museum and the baths (there are queue to enter due to its spectacular form). They remembered when they were silently watching as the known Predator emerged from the turf, they moved the head of the figure to the temple and of the temple at the figure regularly, remembering where they were. In silence, they watched and photographed everything they could.
They remembered having spoken with someone who explained (in English) that the western influences convert the Temple in a kind of Theme Park, without removing seriousness to its last mission, of being a place of worship where to meditate, have clean hearts and reach the wisdom. They saw several monks carrying bamboo canes, they explained that in Thailand is usual to build scaffolding with wood and bamboo, the latter grows very quickly and has a resistance that is called, in some circles, the «steel» of nature.
They remembered learning that the white represents the purity of Buddha, and the bright crystals symbolize as the Buddhism reflects the love and the goodness to the humanity. They remembered as a guide to a group of Germans, kindly, he told them that the artist receives grants to continue his work, but does not accept large sums of money not to accept interferences. He also told them that the owner has left written how to continue and finish the works when he is no longer, his love for his work is one of the incentives having the complex.
Before leaving, they took a «selfie» with the White Temple at the back, most evening they will print two copies of the picture and will keep one each, with the promise that, in the future, would make their relationship improves, finally and ultimately they always have the one to the other. The remaining days spent flying, would return to Thailand, perhaps, in the next Christmas, they will have another fraternal confrontation.
Disclosure: The characters that appear in this article, their different personalities and their relationships with each other and with the environment are part of a fiction. The author is not responsible for the views expressed in the article and has no business relationship with any of the companies listed on it.