Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai

 

In previous columns I’ve teased you with select images of Wat Rung Khun and some decent descriptions, and in this column I put it all together in one place  

In previous columns I’ve teased you with select images of Wat Rung Khun and some decent descriptions, and in this column I put it all together in one place.

Wat Rong Khun is perhaps the most unusual Thai Buddhist temple in the country.  It is solid white in appearance, almost like white glass (when clean), and began construction in 1998.  It appears a few more years will be needed for completion.

 

Above is the most fancy restroom I’ve seen in Thailand.  At first you mistake it for another grand building, perhaps a museum or display hall, and then with a closer look you notice the gender displays and signs.  

Above is the most fancy restroom I’ve seen in Thailand.  At first you mistake it for another grand building, perhaps a museum or display hall, and then with a closer look you notice the gender displays and signs.

I strongly suspect they screen your appearance and demeanor on an individual basis, and perhaps maintain a bit of a bias against the bus loads of Koreans and Chinese who have the tendency to be very loud and in fact disrespectful of religious and sacred sites in SEA.   

This is a sad indictment on the behavior of foreigners in the Kingdom.  At first take we suspected they were just trying to drum up business for the tour guides, but on this slow day with plenty of guides available the lady at the gate smiled and waved us in.  I strongly suspect they screen your appearance and demeanor on an individual basis, and perhaps maintain a bit of a bias against the bus loads of Koreans and Chinese who have the tendency to be very loud and in fact disrespectful of religious and sacred sites in SEA.  While I’ve personally witnessed the occasional loud and obnoxious ‘farang’ at these sites, it’s actually quite common to see an entire tour bus of Koreans or Chinese act like rude and boisterous school children, climbing on top of religious artifacts to pose for pictures, yelling loudly in temple areas, and even littering.

 

Gift shop at Wat Rung Khun Chiang Mai Thailand  

Even the gift shops are nice.

 

Very hot, blown out white skies, and the temples themselves were a dirty tan/brown color and not the crisp clean white you see in the advertisements.  The images were so bad out of the camera that I took the unusual step of manipulating most of the photographs I’m sharing.  Some of them turned out well, others are quite obviously manipulated.   

This was a very bad day for photography.  Very hot, blown out white skies, and the temples themselves were a dirty tan/brown color and not the crisp clean white you see in the advertisements.  The images were so bad out of the camera that I took the unusual step of manipulating most of the photographs I’m sharing.  Some of them turned out well, others are quite obviously manipulated.  This is okay, I’ll be back, probably several times, during the right season and weather.  This place is very much worth the effort to photograph at its best.

 

Wat Rung Khun Chiang Rai Thailand, Photography Workshops  

There are many nicely designed sub buildings, ponds, and landscaping.

 

Everywhere you look the landscaping is well maintained.  

Everywhere you look the landscaping is well maintained.

 

This is a side view of the main bridge you cross over to get to the central temple building.  The fountains are nice, but the very hot weather had taken its toll on the grass  

This is a side view of the main bridge you cross over to get to the central temple building.  The fountains are nice, but the very hot weather had taken its toll on the grass.

 

Wat Rung Khun Chiang Rai, From this view you can see the central temple building  

From this view you can see the central temple building.

 

Yes, this image is heavily manipulated.  Unfortunately the original image was so poor I felt the manipulation would be more a help than a distracter.  From this view you can see the big teeth you pass through to the bridge entrance, the bridge, and the central temple  

Yes, this image is heavily manipulated.  Unfortunately the original image was so poor I felt the manipulation would be more a help than a distracter.  From this view you can see the big teeth you pass through to the bridge entrance, the bridge, and the central temple.

 

Yes, this image is heavily manipulated.  Unfortunately the original image was so poor I felt the manipulation would be more a help than a distracter.  From this view you can see the big teeth you pass through to the bridge entrance, the bridge, and the central temple  

This is a frontal capture as you go through the teeth and enter the beginning of the bridge.  The skulls and reaching hands in the pits to the sides represent the artist’s depiction of eternal hell.  The contrasting beauty and stark horror work well together.

 

Skulls and Bones, Wat Rung Khun Chiang Rai  

A closer shot of the reaching hands which I shared in an earlier (along with a more complete description) column as the feature photograph.

 

Yes, this image is heavily manipulated.  Unfortunately the original image was so poor I felt the manipulation would be more a help than a distracter.  From this view you can see the big teeth you pass through to the bridge entrance, the bridge, and the central temple  

I thought a properly toned black and white image would work well.

 

With an ultra-wide angle lens you can play with the many perspectives afforded by the modern architecture  

With an ultra-wide angle lens you can play with the many perspectives afforded by the modern architecture.

 

This temple has no resident monks.  At least not in the traditional sense.  These orange robed monks were merely visitors like everyone else.  There were quite a few of them  

This temple has no resident monks.  At least not in the traditional sense.  These orange robed monks were merely visitors like everyone else.  There were quite a few of them.

 

From the central temple building facing back over the bridge.  The fountains on each side were nice and provided a limited cooling effect  

From the central temple building facing back over the bridge.  The fountains on each side were nice and provided a limited cooling effect.

 

This is along the far side of the central temple building.  Notice the rich detail and play on directional light  

This is along the far side of the central temple building.  Notice the rich detail and play on directional light?

 

This is the sort of detail that catches your eye and demands a closer look  

This is the sort of detail that catches your eye and demands a closer look.

Wat Rung Khun Chiang Rai  

A closer look.

Young monks walk the temple of Wat Rung Khun Thailand

 

Monks by the pond of Wat Rung Khun 

Resident or not, the monks seem to fit in with the temple and make for an interesting compositional contrast

Resident or not, the monks seem to fit in with the temple and make for an interesting compositional contrast.

 

The archtecture is simply fascinating  

As you exit the rear side you head out towards the way you walked in.

 

Most of the trees and landscaping is immature, save for this grand old tree providing much needed shade  

Most of the trees and landscaping is immature, save for this grand old tree providing much needed shade.

 

This is very much a “must visit” destination.  The galleries are open to the public and hold some of the most unusual art you’ll see in Thailand.  Sex, sin, astrology, beauty, there’s a bit of everything in this temple.  Most temples hold little real interest, you see the exteriors, perhaps a nice Buddha on the interior, and you’ve seen them all.  This temple is much different.  

Facing the rear of the central temple building.

This is very much a “must visit” destination.  The galleries are open to the public and hold some of the most unusual art you’ll see in Thailand.  Sex, sin, astrology, beauty, there’s a bit of everything in this temple.  Most temples hold little real interest, you see the exteriors, perhaps a nice Buddha on the interior, and you’ve seen them all.  This temple is much different.  From its art, fancy restrooms, gift shops, and much more.. you can tell this was built for you to enjoy.  And of course it’s turned into a commercial endeavor.  You won’t regret putting this temple on your list.