Preview of my Thailand trip#2: This is the surreal White Temple in Chiang Rai, built by this very flambouyant artist in honor of the Buddha. When he was asked why he built this temple? He answered: Because I’m rich and I can. Good an answer as any, I guess.

The temple is huge, gaudy, breathtaking, strange, surreal…I think you have to be there. See those hands reaching out in the foreground? That’s supposed to be the suffering people in hell, trying to get out—or maybe drag you in. If you look closely, you’ll see all sorts of hands—human, demonic (as in with claws, etc—like that hand, below right), monstrous (with fur or hair), and even robotic (or maybe just in armored gloves). Inside, it’s all murals. Some panels have Neo (of the The Matrix) and Superman in them. Surreal, I tell you.

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