The majority of the Thai population are devoted Buddhists, which is one of the many reasons they are such wonderful people. A beautiful and creative Buddhist shrine, offering, and/or temple can be found on every block. Most of the holy structures have been around for over 50 years, and are covered in sculptures painted gold.
The White Temple is unique, not only because it has been white washed, but also because of the wicked contemporary figures protruding from the exterior. Batman’s severed head hangs next to Poltergeist from a tree in the garden.
The interior floor-to-ceiling walls are covered in a mural depicting modern day merchandise, movie scenes, and graphic depictions of semi-current events. There are Coke cans, the Twin Towers getting crashed into by airplanes, Superman is flying around, and clouds are raining down bombs and machine guns. Everything is painted in detail with vivid color. The center piece is the traditional Buddha, sitting behind a life sized monk carved out of wax. It is forbidden to take photographs inside.
The White Temple construction began in the 1990’s and has yet to be completed. It has already become one of the most visited temples in Northern Thailand.
The White Temple is located just south of Chiang Rai city, which is a very creative community full of young Thai artists. Recommend checking the area out if you ever head through Northern Thailand, and be sure to visit the art gallery next door to the White Temple, where there is a large portrait of George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden holding hands while straddling a missile flying through outer-space. It’s a weird place.