A Jagged Pearl In Northern Thailand

I’m sure that everybody has some type of ‘life list’ of one sort or another. It is usually a list of certain things that a person wishes to accomplish before a certain point in their life. A young entrepeneur wants to make his first million by age 30; or a sports fanatic wishes to see a game in every ballpark in the league. Less lofty goals, but important to that person nonetheless, could be such things as meeting all of their most beloved movie stars, or reading every book written by their favorite author.

Many people share the same goal of visiting certain parts of the world. Some people are even more specific, and they wish to view a certain site within a particular city or country. These happen to be the contents of one of my ‘life lists’.

My list is not long, nor is it my only list. The first sites on my list that I got to cross off were The Pyramids of Egypt and The Sphinx. I visited those wonders of the world in 1989 and actually, while crawling inside one of the pyramids, I came down with an infection in my elbow that nearly did me in. It stemmed from a scrape I suffered in one of the narrow passageways. It’s an interesting story, but one more aptly told on Egyptian-Blogs.com (is there such a site?)

Cross one off!
One down….

Anyways, I digress. My short list of must-see attractions, in no particular order are 1) Machu Pichu in Peru; 2) Angkor Wat in Cambodia; and 3) The Taj Mahal in Agra, India. That last site, The Taj Mahal, is almost haunting to me. I hear that one who views this wonder of the world by the full moon is never quite the same. I truly reckon that a visit to any part of India will leave a person changed forever. The same can surely be said of our beloved Thailand..and that brings me to the subject of my blog.

Dear readers, if you have a list similar to mine, I’d like you to add a site to it. I had not known of it prior to my visit, but if I had, such a majestic, beautiful place would be a “must see”. I can’t say that I stumbled upon this place by accident, but I did not know that I was going to see it. I think having it sprung upon me like a serendipitous jack-in-the-box was a better way to introduce me to this place.

The place that I am writing about is Wat Rongkhun in Chiang Rai. This temple is no ordinary venue (why does Murray Head come to mind?). It was not finished when I visited it in April of 2004. It was still being plastered together by the artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat. When I went there, I sat on the steps and actually watched him molding a portion of the wat out of white mortar.

At The Wat
I’m dwarfed by beauty.

Pon and I rode into Chiang Rai that hot April day on a trip that I thought was based on my need for a decent coffee fix. The packet of Nescafe in a cup of hot water, the fare offered at the only market in Bahn Bong Chang, was not cutting it (I’m sure some of you have heard of us Seattleites and our coffee habits). Halfway to town Pon took over the helm of the motorbike and steered us into the parking lot of Wat Rongkhun. When I first saw it, and not to sound trite, I was awe-struck. This pure white temple, glittering with the millions of tiny mirrors imbedded in the albino mortar, rising out of the parched ground was nothing that I was prepared for. The first thought in my mind was..”Taj Mahal!!”.

First Sight
My first view from the parking lot.

The Taj Mahal is an entirely different structure in the most basic architectural sense, but the feelings it invoked in me on first sight were what I believed I would feel upon seeing the Taj Mahal. This wat is only a couple of years old (since first started), but I know that it will be on many peoples’ ‘must see’ lists for many centuries to come.


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