Headed down to Rayong last weekend along the eastern side of the Gulf of Thailand. It was both an American and Thai holiday and a chance to get out of town. No fireworks, though aside from lightning and thunder. Overall, it was a scuddy weather weekend with rain and clouds most days and brisk winds in the evening. One consolation was the setting full moon slipping into Monday’s morning dawn.
We stopped by the Sanctuary of Truth, though, on the way back home. This was an interesting high point.
Khun Lek was a rather eccentric millionaire who among other things, brought Mercedes-Benz to Thailand. But on his way to amassing a fortune, he became quite worried about losing culture and the coming changes in the world.
Among several projects, maybe the most ambitious is the Sanctuary of Truth. Still under construction, it was started 39 years ago and they estimate there is another 10 to 20 years to go.
It towers nearly 315 ft into the air on the edge of a small bay. It’s a massive conglomeration of Khmer, Buddhist, Hindu and Chinese religions, and eventually will be covered in carvings that seem to, at least in the eyes of Khun Lek, tie together the cosmology and life lessons that we should all be living by.
And, here is the marvelous thing. The entire structure is constructed of wood. And because it is exposed to the elements, there is scarcely a nail, nut, bold, or glue in the entire place. It is amazing to see how generations of artisans and craftsmen have put this place together. And, they’re still going. Training from apprentice to journeyman to master. It’s given rise to a whole training center.
It must have been this way for the stone carvers in other temples, churches and sites in the world. A cooperation that spans time in a quest for truth and a greater good.
Khun Lek died in 2014, but this vision is still carrying on. I don’t have information on who designed the place, or if it is designed by committee. But it is an amazing, living structure with Ganeshas, Gods and, who knows? Maybe even dwarves.
If you’re in the area, it is definitely worth a couple hours of your time.