Feeling Blue leaving Chiang Rai
Updated: Aug 4
As we were leaving Chiang Rai we decided to stop to visit Blue Wat as locals had suggested and it was just in a residential area south of town. This temple didn’t have tourists it was a temple for local Thais. The reason we could conclude that was the only tour buses parked along the street were the colorful airbrushed totally Thai. These buses you see traveling around are show stopping with lavish custom artwork to the sides of buses, along with shiny reflectors and Michelin tire dolls tied to the bumpers. But even inside these tour buses there are disco balls, wine storage unit and jumbo speakers…. Definitely a party bus to keep their client entertained between stops.
The Blue Wat is just as jarring! Wat Rong Suea Ten or Tiger Temple is full of surprises and named for the tigers that once roamed the area. The six acre property built on the ruins of a long abandon ancient temple. The region was once a natural habitat that teemed with wildlife, including tigers who “danced” (leapt) over the nearby Mae Kok River. The name translates as House of the Dancing Tiger: rong is the Thai word for house, suea for tiger and ten for dancing. In what may prove either to be a disappointment to some or reassurance to others, there are no real, live tigers at Wat Rong Suea Ten.
Started as a community effort in 2005 and completed in 2016, the distinctive blue and gold temple is inspired by tradition, the deep sky blue represents the Dharma. Buddha’s code of morals, which is associated with wisdom, the infinite, purity and healing. Blue is also the least “material” of all hues and speaks to the limitless heights of ascension. The Virgin Mary and Christ are often shown wearing blue, as is the Hindu deity Vishnu and his blue-skinned incarnation, Krishna.
The monastery was designed by Phuttha Kabkaew, a protégé of Chalermchai Kositpipat of the famed and astounding White Temple. The interior seemed to look busy with artwork everywhere, but again that was part of this temple. Because of the blue base color and the contrasting gold paint and mirror tiles, it was really a wow factor admiring this temple. The pearl-escent Buddha was also breath-taking too. You need to sit in the temple to see, reflect and absorb all the storied artwork. The temple is actually very calming. Because there aren’t the waves of tourist, you can focus in this sea of tranquility.
A word of advice, see the Blue Wat before experiencing the White Temple that can be just overwhelming in it's commercial art enterprise, but is only 20 minutes away.