Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Wat Chalong and Big Buddha

Visiting glorious Thailand for 2 weeks, with Sea Turtle still in Malaysia, we decided to explore the island on our rented motor-scooter and see what we could find.

The next day, still on our own, we were heading towards 2 southern beaches. Generally, Phuket's west side has pockets of touristy beaches connected with scenic winding roads. In contrast, the east side is a busy commercial built-up area.

Along the way, we spotted an elaborate Buddhist temple compound, Wat Chalong. Buddhism is the predominant faith in Thailand and this is the largest and most ornate of Phuket's Buddhist temples. There, devotees performing 1 of various rituals, pasted gold leaf in hushed reverence, to 2 statues in the main hall where residuals of the glitter ended up on the floor, and our feet!

Ornate temple

Sticking gold leaf to statues

Another diametrical ritual that broke the quiet ambiance was the exploding string of firecrackers inside a courtyard brick oven-like structure, the significance of which eluded us.

Off in the distance perched high on a hill was the prominent Big Buddha that had its eyes on Phuket Town below and most of the southern part of the Island. Signs vectored us to the steep 6 km road to the top.

The gigantic Big Buddha is 45 m tall and 25 m wide at the base and is made of reinforced concrete with Burmese marble overlay. This impressive and revered landmark is a work in progress that started about 10 years ago by a wealthy devotee and to date is about 75% complete (rebar evident around base). Along the stairs leading up to the base and around Big Buddha are thousands of brass bells, tinkling in the breeze, displayed as tokens of recognition of individual donors for the construction.

Big Buddha

From the top, we admired stunning vistas; and from the bottom, Jordan rubbed a brass gong that echoed amazing sounds far off into the distance.

Next stop, off to the airport to pick up the "kids"...

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