Thailand: Day 8
Thailand: Day 8
Sleeping in felt really nice this morning. We got up a little after nine and took our time getting downstairs for a late breakfast and eventually to Karon Beach. Karon is only ten minutes north of Kata beach on the same western coast of Phuket. Its water is like Kata’s but its beach is larger and longer.
The older European couple who we occupied beach chairs next to told us it was a blazing 40 degrees Celsius (that’s 104 degrees Fahrenheit for our American friends)! It definitely felt like one of the hotter days since we’ve been here.
At Karon we did the typical beach thing: swim and relax. But it was great. Three or four hours later we headed back to our guesthouse because we had scheduled for a taxi to pick us up at three to take us to some of the local temples in Phuket.
Somae was the friendly taxi driver that picked us up and asked where we wanted to go. We pointed to our map and told him “the Big Buddha, and Wat Chalong temple.” He smiled, and put the car in gear and we were off.
First stop was the Big Buddha, and it is, in no stretch of the imagination, very big. The statue sits on top of the highest point in Phuket, and it is easily seen from many places in southern Phuket—especially around Kata beach. As we made our way up the mountain, Somae told us the Buddha is about 45 meters (147 ft) tall, and when we pulled up below the statue, my doubts of Somae exaggerating its size were immediately laid to rest. It is the largest Buddha I’ve ever seen.
Before we climbed the rest of the way up the mountain to see and take pictures of the Buddha, a nice Thai woman working at the entrance, handed Jill a shawl to cover her exposed shoulders. Jill was a bit reluctant to wear the smelly shawl that had likely been used by another tourist that was ignorant of temple etiquette, but she obliged so we could go in.
The Buddha itself looked finished in its white granite exterior, but there was still construction going on around the large circular base that it sits on.
After exploring around the base and taking some pictures, we hopped back in the taxi and headed towards Wat Chalong temple. Weaving our way back down the mountain roads, I asked Somae how long the Buddha had been under construction, and he said for about six or seven years. It is being built through financial donations, and they are trying to build the biggest Buddha in Thailand.
It was around four-thirty in the afternoon when we pulled into Wat Chalong Buddhist temple. It’s known as the most beautiful temple in Phuket, and the campus is comprised of four or five incredibly ornamented buildings.
Before we came to Wat Chalong, we weren’t aware that it closed at five pm, so when we parked the taxi, we only had thirty minutes to look around. Our eyes were immediately drawn to a three-story shrine, so we spent most of our time exploring all the awesome details of this structure.
Upon climbing the steps to the top floor, we walked into a small room where there were Buddha statues all standing facing the center of the room. In the center was a glass-enclosed case that had glass bulbs inside that seemed to be holding relics. The only sign that described what we were seeing was in Thai, so I wasn’t sure at the time, but after doing some research, I learned that in the glass bulb supposedly there is a fragment of one of Buddha’s bones.
Standing out on the roof of the shrine, and looking out over Phuket we could see the sun setting behind the Big Buddha.