Sorry Keanu Reeves, but you’re not welcome in Chiang Rai…

Wednesday 6th January

Rest day

Chiang Rai is a small place, and most of its attractions lie in its surrounding areas. Today we would be going to see just one (yep, we’re lazy): Wat Rong Khun. This temple is about fifteen kilometres from the centre and can be reached by bus. It is famously known as “The White Temple”. 


The temple is meant to encourage visitors to leave behind all earthly possessions, and to instead contemplate higher things. 

Visitors pass over a sea of hands – representing damnation – before entering the temple. 

Inside, no photos of the Buddha statue are allowed, but on the opposite wall is a fascinating mural representing damnation (again)… and it features a few well known faces, such as… Kung Fu Panda!

We also saw Elvis, a “Matrix” Keanu Reeves, Spider-Man, the predator from Predator, a transformer and a Powerpuff Girl. 

While we were standing there going “Whaaaaaat??” a guy turned to us and said that the mural represented that “Superheroes couldn’t save you”. After looking at it for a while, I thought that it was saying that our worship of popular culture – our obsession with the latest films and TV characters – would lead us to… DAMNATION. Poor old Keanu Reeves. 

The temple had loads of unique design features, all (I’m told) with specific symbolism attached. It was a very interesting place, and really beautiful.

At the temple gift shop we impulse bought a large poster, and walked out with a massive poster tube. As we came down from the consumerist high we realised that:

a) this poster is massive

b) we would be leaving Thailand tomorrow

and c) the message of Wat Rong Khun about renouncing earthly things hadn’t really worked on us (though as we bought our poster from their own gift shop I’m sure they would have let this one go, as long as I never confessed to them that I had watched Kung Fu Panda TWICE)

So the rest of the day was spent getting the poster, along with a few other unneeded items, posted to my Khun Yai’s house in Bangkok. Our plans were nearly scuppered when we didn’t remember the postcode, but a quick phone call to our Thai friend Gift rescued us. Thanks Gift! 

Other things we sent back:

– 2 waterproof jackets

– 2 waterproof shoe covers

– 1 elastic exercise band (the same elastic band Eric took around Europe, didn’t use and sent back)

– 1 pair of walking boots (Eric’s) 

– 1 tiny Santa Claus (who was hung on the front of the bike during the Christmas period, and frequently spoken to by Eric)

That’s about 3 kilos gone. Yes!! 

Tomorrow is our last day in Thailand (for now). We are both quite sad about it.


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