Thailand: White Temple in Chiang Rai

Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple is a fairytale-like palace/temple near the northern Thai city of Chiang Rai. It’s a contemporary, futuristic, religious, popular culture, and kitsch construction all in one big mish-mash. The bizarre temple was opened in 1997 and the additional construction is still ongoing. There is everything here – weird dragons, pathway through hell of drowning souls, devils of all shapes and sizes. To get into the main temple you go over the bridge with symbols of ying/yang over the lake full of outstretched hands that symbolize unrestrained desire. The bridge proclaims that the way to happiness is by foregoing desire, temptation, and greed. Once past this insanity, you get inside the temple itself where the wall paintings are even more weird – there are eyes of Bin Laden and GW Bush, burning WTC towers, and Superman, Batman, Neo from Matrix and Pokemon – all looking at this mess. No photography is allowed inside. Once outside – there’s more weirdness – wishing wells, wishing trees, sculls and bones and more sparkling white temples.