Sunday, May 24, 2009

When more is not enough

temple during rain, originally uploaded by Paul Grand.

On the coast, below Bangkok, grows a very strange wooden temple structure.
It was conceived and started by an eccentric billionaire known as "Khun Lek" just 20 years ago.
Sited near Pattaya, he named it 'The Sanctuary of Truth'.
He has since died but the project still continues and is expected to be completed within five years.

The shape follows traditional Thai architecture, decorated with wood carvings depicting the four major philosophical and artistic influences that can be seen in Thailand: Hindu, Khmer, Chinese and Thai.
A team of 250 woodcarvers are at work on the sanctuary at any given time.

We'd only heard about this (not so famous) edifice the day before on the net and so time was short..
When we visited it was raining, but as it was our last day we ploughed on through the mud and sand with several cameras in weather that even the guides were unwilling to brave!

We were astonished by the size of the thing, with its huge carved four faced Buddha's heads and many over-sized elephants.
Whilst inside the stygian gloom sadly hid most of its treasures, with warnings posted that the interior was off-limits for photography other than personal snaps.

We both found it over decorated, verging on the Disney-kitsch, and thus came up with a new name for it; 'When more is not enough' !
However, it keeps many woodcarvers and related industries in employment, so it must be a good thing in an area almost devoid of cultural sites other than the sleazy go-go bars and several Thai Kick Boxing bar venues.

Thus, I recommend hiring an air conditioned taxi for a day from Bangkok and spread the cost between a few friends for a visit and avoid the next door resort if possible.

The cheaper bus is a false economy as they will drive you the slowest (cheapest) route and take you to a tourist trap factory outlet..
The trip is about seventy five minutes @ 25 euros per day, (per car) via taxi on the motorway. Up to four hours and 10 euros each (one way)by bus!


Kelly said...

very cool. love the clouds fanning out above.

Steve Law said...

This is simply one of the most extraordinary pictures I've seen in a long time, and Paul's work figures large in that list.
I try to ignore the theme park aspect (I wish you hadn't told me).
This is not a photograph - it is an image straight from the most sinister part of my subconscious.

Anonymous said...

Paul -

I play in a band based in Los Angeles, CA and we are going to be releasing our first EP later this summer. I am blown away by your photographs and would like to get in touch with you about possibly using one for the album cover (particularly the mannequin lighthouse). I cannot find an email address on this site, so if you could please contact me at it would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,


paulgrand said...

Sure, I'll email you now!

Ted said...

You write, "The cheaper bus is a false economy as they will drive you the slowest (cheapest) route and take you to a tourist trap factory outlet.." And I wonder if you have not created a metaphor for life? I wonder from time to time if I've not bought passage on that thing?

Speaking of metaphors... I know that we are both Sci-Fi fans and as I peer at your image I wonder if... if Khun Lek was merely sculpting a life-sized rendering of the visitor who's secrets led him to his great wealth?

And I wonder, "Visitor from where?" Hmmmmm? And then I think, "Ted, you know if that story is ever written, then the book's cover has already been created... and that the publisher's need to call you fast....

paulgrand said...

Lol, thanks Ted! :-)

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