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Sunday, 7 February 2016

The Big Buddha, Phuket

The Big Buddha

Phuket


When you're down on the sand at Karon Beach and look back up to the mountains behind it, there's a white statue on top of one of the mountains. It's a statue of Buddha and known colloquially as 'The Big Buddha'. It does have a long Thai name as well.

On the way to Old Phuket Town I saw a sign saying 'Big Buddha' with an arrow so thought it wouldn't be that far away to visit. My last day at Karon Beach I made the most of the morning by enjoying a swim in the ocean and that left an afternoon to fill in as I waited for my night-time flight back to Australia. A trip to see the Big Buddha was a good way to pass the time.

I just took a taxi from the hotel and the driver waited and then took me back, so no real need to book a tour. The site is free to enter, and I had done some reading beforehand and knew that the complex isn't finished yet. Parts of it are still a construction site, work was ongoing during my visit. The whole complex is being funded by donations, it has taken 10 years for what I saw to be completed and there are various points where visitors can donate for further work.


There are a variety of small buildings including this one where you can approach a monk for a blessing. (Scarves and sarongs are given out when you enter the complex, it's hot but you need to be dressed to show respect)

The Big Buddha up close, it's made of white marble Burmese tiles. It's 45m tall.

A photo from lower down and it's possible to see the construction site.

I think this is what it will look like when finished, the sign was only in Thai.

The back of the statue has these concrete alcoves with large statues inside them. The Big Buddha itself is made from steel reinforced concrete with the tiles on the top.


At the top of the mountain there is also this smaller gold coloured Buddha, it's gold in colour but made out of brass. This statue is for Queen Sirkit and the Big Buddha for the King.

These bells and little brass plaques are strung around the base of the statue and chime with the blowing of the wind. It sounds quite lovely.

It was only when I saw this little stand of just the plaques that I realised what they were. I'm familiar with Buddhist temples from Japan which have little wooden tablets that you can write your wish/desire/prayer you want granted. These little metal plaques (I can't think of a better word for them. Disks?) have the same role.


The ones that had the bells attached where just a fancier version, I found one with a message written in English.


The base of the statue is open and it's possible to wander around inside, you can find monks chanting and there are seats for people to sit listen.

The views from the statue are fantastic, there's a 360 view of the surrounding area, you just walk around, with it being a construction site at the moment, you also had to dodge around the work! Be prepared for editing your photos to crop out the exposed concrete and reinforced steel!



Around the complex there are other smaller statues, the three wise monkeys, reminded me of my family home growing up. We had this statue which I think was given as a gift to my Mum.

Three Wise Monkeys (plus a few others in the background!) Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil.

And this one I just liked, riding on an alligator.


Visiting the Big Buddha was an interesting way of spending an hour, the views on the top were great and on a hot afternoon the cool wind up there was fantastic too! For anyone who knows more about Thai Buddhism than me would probably appreciate all the other statues around the complex, I can only recognise Buddha, there were also people praying to a large statue of a man in western clothing. I guessed a revered Thai King? Have to confess to knowing little to nothing about Thai history, other than it was never a colony of any country. Something to work on for future trips to Thailand!


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