But I’m going to try to use them to describe it anyways. Along with some photos. Those tend to help.
The White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand, has been on my bucket list ever since the first time I laid eyes on photos of it. It looked incredible, and also artsy and creepy, like the Buddhist counterpart of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia. The two have similarities – both have been built in the modern era and neither are completed.
The White Temple was started in 1997 and will remain under construction until 2070. My complete lack of planning got me into trouble again the day I visited the White Temple. Normally, one can easily catch a bus to the temple for only 20 baht (less than $1). Ever-confident in my awful sense of direction, I headed out, foolishly, without a map. I had used the only one I had the previous night to fight the mosquito infiltration in my room and didn’t want to carry a paper soaked in mine or someone else’s malaria-infested blood around with me.
I walked in the 90-degree heat for 30 minutes and realized I had no idea where I was going. I stepped into a 7-11 where a tiny woman took pity on me and offered to call me a taxi. “Bus station very far” she said. I said I feared the taxi was expensive, but she negotiated with him to use the meter so that it would cost about the same as the bus, then brought me to what appeared to be a gynecologist’s office to wait for the taxi.
Under the curious stares from pregnant Thai women probing me, I waited. And waited. And waited. The taxi finally showed up and tried not to use the meter. After some back and forth, I paid more than I wanted to and finally found myself at the temple. Luckily, entrance was free.
Finally, I got to lay eyes on this:
And more importantly, these little guys:
I scurried into the temple area, eagerly snapping pictures, prancing around trying to get every angle of these amazing hands:
There was a man with a loud speaker and microphone who eventually noticed I was holding up the stream of people steadily piling through the narrow temple paths. “Lady, keep moving, keep moving!” he said as I chuckled and kept snapping pictures.
I looked through my photos and wasn’t satisfied, so I had to go through once again, and hope my friend with the microphone didn’t notice. Then again, I was one of the only foreigners there and I was wearing purple elephant hippie pants and a bright pink t-shirt. I’m not sure how or why I thought I’d scurry past him successfully. I started my photo snapping again:
Sure enough, he noticed me right away, and got right back on his microphone: “Lady! Keep moving, keep moving!” I started giggling again as I slowly started to oblige.
With some heavy help from poor Yvonne all the way in Luang Prabang, I successfully found the bench, under the tree, on the highway, to the right of the giant photo of the king, and made my way home for 20 Baht. It was a good day all-in-all, and resulted in some amazing photos and memories. *Click here to see the full set of photos on Flickr.