One of the must-see attractions while in Phuket is the Big Buddha – a 45-m tall white marble statue perched on the hillside of southern Phuket. The figure is so large that it can be seen from miles around the island. This was our next stop on our day tour ! 🙂
It had been raining earlier, but thankfully the weather cleared when we arrived. Since it is a religious place, we brought our own scarves to cover up our shoulders. You can also borrow some from the counter. They weren’t very strict though – there were many Western tourists walking around in sleeveless tank tops. .
On display near the entrance was one of Phuket’s famous open-air blue ‘buses’ – which is basically a truck converted to accommodate benches and seats – much like the jeepneys in the Philippines.
Before anything else… a quick thirst quencher for 50B.
We popped into one of the shrines, which looked distinctly Chinese with Thai influences. The walls were painted a deep red, reminiscent of Chinese temples, but there were also statues such as the four-faced Buddha (Phra Phrom), elephant God and various figures/paintings of Thai royalty, monks, etc which were more Thai.
The accumulation of many, many candles melted into a strangely beautiful mess, resembling stalactites in a limestone cave.
The place is still under construction, even though the project started more than 10 years ago. This is because the project is almost entirely funded by public donations. Workers were constructing some sort of front hall, so the place was muddy after the rain.
View from below. Visitors can continue climbing up to the base of the Buddha.
The temple area is a simple structure with zinc roofing. On one side sat a row of Golden Buddhas, each with a bowl for donations and blessings.
H and I offered a token of donation at one of the boxes, then knelt down in front of a big altar filled with many different Buddha statues. A monk blessed us tied our wrists with a blessed string, then sprinkled us with holy water and tapped our heads with a bunch of thin wooden sticks (Idk why though.. I guess it’s for blessing?).
We saw this warm, furry fat cat lying on a stack of newspapers and had to pet it.
A short climb later and we were at the base of the Big Buddha or to call it by it’s full name, the Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri Buddha. Made from jade marble, the statue was impressive, and the views from the hilltop were equally magnificent.
View of the Andaman Sea beyond.
A large bronze bell and wooden ringer.
Nagas are a serpent like mythical creature. Depictions of this being is prevalently found in Thai temples.
Before entering, some temple volunteers asked if we would like to donate by buying a marble piece for 300B (RM36). You can write messages, prayers or whatever you want onto the tile, which will eventually be used to complete the entire Big Buddha structure. We chose not to because it just seemed too touristy and some of the tiles inside had been around for so long that the writings had faded away.
The bottom part of the Buddha, which I presume will be turned into a prayer area, was still under construction. They have a few statues placed inside, so devotees and visitors can walk in and explore the half-completed structure. The parts not covered in plastic sheets were dusty and rough, while scaffolding was everywhere – overhung with silk mantras with prayers in gold ink.
It was dark under the shadow of the Buddha, and quiet. We performed some prayers, then wandered around for awhile. The entire thing had an odd effect: like I was walking in a half-abandoned place, where lost people still came to have conversations with God.
Outside, golden bells written over with messages by visitors hung on a line. They made beautiful wind chime-like sounds when the wind blew, and when my itchy fingers trailed across them.
There was also a smaller golden Buddha measuring 12ms high, next to the Big Buddha. Made from brass, the Buddha sits on a platform coiled with two Nagas.
The area around the Big Buddha statue consists of small gazebos and viewing platforms. Some visitors had also placed love locks onto the trees and cables.
Views from another observation deck. Beautiful!
We found a different fat cat. What is it with fat cats at Thai temples??
This guy was a bit unfriendly though – hissed at us even before we got near. D:
The Big Buddha is definitely worth a visit when you’re in Phuket, so make sure to include it in your travel itinerary! 🙂 Opens from 6am to 7pm daily, free entry (donations always welcome). While we weren’t stopped at the gate for wearing sleeveless shirts, I suggest dressing decently (at least knee length skirt or pants) to avoid any discomfort. Or bring a scarf. 🙂
Yot Sane 1 Chaofa Road ( West ) Chalong Phuket