Pattaya’s ironically named ocean-facing temple could not have been conceived by someone without an eccentric streak.
(We check out this unique sanctuary and put the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge to the test )
Pattaya gets about 4 million visitors a year; so they’re obviously doing something right. Even if you don’t fancy Pattaya for its crass commercialism, you might marvel at how heaps of attractions and value shopping have been compressed into an area this small. You literally have to roll out from your hotel, stick your thumb out and jump one of one the zillion ‘back taxis’ where almost every ride costs 10 baht (20 Indian rupees). In a town where wolf packs and sugar daddies rub shoulders with Indian tourists who never tire of paneer butter masala and ‘go go’ bars (enough said), the Sanctuary of truth is actually an unusual, almost cool attraction.
It needed an eccentric genius to conceive this project; Lek Viriyaphant did in 1981 and it won’t be complete before 2050. It’s heavily influenced by Khmer architecture with hand-carved wooden sculptures. There are four towers with images from Buddhist and Hindu religions.
It’s quite ambitious – a temple with multiple chambers built entirely with wood and with a decent oceanfront view. Plenty of photo-opps. It’s the level of detail – intricate carvings at every corner, that makes a big impression and also puts project’s seventy year timeline in perspective.
It also makes you wonder how some of Asia’s landmark temples were completed (centuries ago) in much shorter time frames (of course they didn’t have five-day weeks and stringent labour laws back then).
If you must go to Pattaya and once you are numbed by the town’s ‘in your face’ touristic ‘pleasures’, this somewhat tranquil (it’s not always flooded with tour groups full of headless chickens) spot is a welcome, almost unexpected change. The entire complex itself is quite touristy (this is Pattaya’s after all) but skip the obvious tourist traps and head straight to the temple for an experience that might give you more pleasure than a not so ‘happy ending’ in Pattaya. (The entrance fee is THB 500 – about 1000 Indian rupees).