Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trip Report, Part 14: Sanctuary Of Truth

Front entrance to the Sanctuary of Truth

[This is part 14 of a series that may or may not ever find its way to a proper conclusion. It has to do with my latest trip to Thailand, and the people, places and things I encountered along the way. You can find the rest of the series by clicking here on Trip Reports.]

It's sometimes surprising what people choose to do with their money. A life with what most of us would merely consider basic comforts isn't cheap in many countries, but as Mick Jagger continues to sing "if you try sometimes, you just might find you can get what you need."

Detail on the rooftops of the main structure

Some have far more than they know what to do with... and it shows. Larry Ellison just bought 98% of the island of Lanai'i in the state of Hawai'i. In 2009 Michael Bloomberg spent an estimated $100 million of his own money to be re-elected as Mayor of New York City. Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal spent $55 million on his daughter's wedding in 2004. Russian investor Roman Abromovich hosted a lunch for himself and nine others a few years back that ran up a tab of $40,000 - plus an additonal $12,000 for a tip. To pass on a generalization I've heard often, the Thai I know tell me that most Russians usually tend to tip next to nothing, so perhaps there's hope yet (there's your requested hint, Keng).

New (darker colored) portions
are constantly being added
as replacements
Some are more philanthropic with theirs: Warren Buffet gave well over $40 billion to the Gates Foundation in 2006, with a pledge for further donations. That can trickle down, too; the Gates Foundation has given a million or three to Cabbages and Condoms, a worthy Thai health foundation.

In 1981, 19 years before his death in 2000 at age 86 Thai businessman Phrapai "Lek" Viriyaphant began work on a mammoth project he'd never live to see completed: the Sanctuary of Truth, also known as Prasat Mai and Wang Boran. Indeed, because of weathering it's under constant repair  during the construction and will most likely never be truly completed, despite a target date somewhere in 2015. Viriyaphant was also the funding force behind the Erawan Museum - something we've yet to cover here - and another park, Ancient Siam, near Bangkok.

Somewhat of a fool's errand, this enormous structure on the edge of the gulf - exposed to the ravages of wind, rain, and salt water - is made entirely of wood, right down to the dovetail joints.  There are a couple of photos in yesterday's post, if you missed that.

The Khmer style architecture is reminiscent of others seen in Thailand from the days when the Khmer culture was prevalent, and there's generous representation of both Buddhist and Hindu to the place, also. Nearly 350 feet (105 meters) tall at its highest point, it covers over 34,400 square feet, (3,200 square meters).

It's relatively easy to get to from anywhere in Pattaya; it's actually visible from many of the higher points in town, such as the rooftop of the Markland Hotel. I lifted the detail from an unrelated picture and posted it below.  Below that is an aerial shot of the area I've dropped in an insert with a yellow arrow showing where the place is.  You can see how close it is to the curve of Beach Road.

The Sanctuary peeks up above the greenery above

In this case "X" IS the spot of the enormous carving that is the Sanctuary building, and the inset shows how close it is to town.

If you look closely in the image above you can see the stone wall built around the place at the edge of the water, put up to keep tour boats and assorted freeloaders from coming onto the grounds without paying the minimal entrance fee.  My guess is that it also cut down on materials going missing in the night!

More next time on the grounds, shows and interiors. If you want to read more about the place today there's a bit of information on their actual web site:

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