DESPITE news that the number of Chinese tourists decreased last month, it has so turned out that Chiang Rai’s Wat Rong Khun, which is better known as the White Temple, is attracting throngs of Chinese and other foreign tourists, new)108 free newspaper said today.
This temple was packed with Chinese and visitors of other nationalities over the weekend who had flocked to this contemporary, unconventional, art exhibit style Buddhist temple which is owned by Chalermchai Kositpipat, who designed, constructed and opened it to visitors in 1997,
The temple’s caretakers had to ask tour guides to explain to foreign tourists how they should conduct themselves when visiting a Buddhist temple to keep the situation in order.
The caretakers revealed that increasing number of Chinese tourists are visiting this temple and now total around 5,000 to 10,000 a day with most coming in tour groups.
Mr Chalermchai said that if tourist destinations are properly run including explaining to foreign visitors how they should behave and also trying to understand them better this would prevent them from staying away and in fact might lead to many more visits, new)108 newspaper said.
According to Wikipedia.com, by the end of the 20th century the original Wat Rong Khun was in a bad state of repairs and funds were not available to renovate it. Mr Chalermchai, a Chiang Rai native, decided to completely rebuild the temple with his own money and so far has spent 40 million baht.
Admission to the temple is free and while donations are accepted these may not be more than 10,000 baht as Mr Chalermchai refuses to be influenced by big donors.
Work on this temple is continuing and the project is not expected to be completed until 2070. The full structure will have nine buildings including the existing main building or ubosot, a hall of relics, a meditation hall, an art gallery and living quarters for monks.
This main building is reached by crossing a bridge over a small lake in front of which are hundreds of hands reaching up from pits with this symbolizing unrestraint desire. Crossing this bridge is a way to happiness by letting go temptation and greed, Wikipedia.com added.
TOP: The unique and very recognizable Wat Rong Khun or White Temple in Chiang Rai. Photo: Ryan Harvey
INSET: These hands reaching out from a pit are intended to encourage visitors to focus on Buddhist teachings. Photo: Brian Jeffery Beggerly
By Thai Residents reporters