The White Temple, Chiang Rai
Our last major port of call (though not on the water) on our journey was the great city of Chiang Mai. We had visited Chiang Mai a little over a month ago and fell in love with it so we decided to spend our 13th wedding anniversary there. Lucky for us this go around was devoid of Songkran festivants spraying and dumping water on everyone. One of the items on our to-do wish list while in Chiang Mai was to visit Chiang Rai in the north. A short drive through the mountains got us there in no time. Our first stop on our day tour of Chiang Mai was the White Temple. One look and it is more than obvious where it gets its name. The temple was built in 1997 by a famous Thai artist who wanted to honor the king with its construction. Because an artist was involved in its construction, more than traditional temple elements are included in the design of the temple. The main theme of the temple is the duality and battle of good and evil. As you walk onto the temple grounds you are greeted with dire, grotesque warnings about the dangers of smoking and drinking. Making your way to the main temple requires you to walk a path symbolizing the journey from hell into the mortal realm of earth and finally into heaven. Once you start on the path there is no turning around or going back unless you favor being cursed. What the curse was our tour guide wouldn't say. I'm guessing it's something like having to spend winters in Wisconsin until the end of time. Anyway, after the temple proper you're able to wander the grounds and take in the other sites. Sites such as the Golden Toilet. It's really just a gold building that houses some really nice clean restrooms. I wish it were an actual golden toilet however. There are also the metal flower petals and leaves you can purchase, write your wish/prayer on and hang up on the grounds for eternity. Sarah and I purchased one to commemorate our anniversary celebration. Also on the grounds are epiphyte planters in the shapes of famous and infamous people and movie characters alike. Very cool and very life like. the best part of the White Temple, admission, at least for the present, is free to the public. We're certain this will change within the next few years given the cost of up keep and the number of visitors on a daily basis. A very impressive place.