You see it all around you in Phuket, especially if you are on the south side of the island. Big, white, Buddha, viewable from most points, since it is so high up. Even at night, it is lit up so you can see it from a distance.
Finally, able to find it, we had to drive up a curvy road to get to the top of the hill, where Big Buddha sits. As you make your way up, there are restaurants with beautiful views, ATV tours, and sadly, chained baby elephants or monkeys for people’s entertainment. So, very, depressing.
When you get to the top, its very calming. Chanting monks play out of the loudspeaker/microphones all around the Big Buddha. Many tourists, but also locals milling around. Chickens pecking around the parking lot, and a vegetarian buffet being offered to anyone, for free or donation of their liking. It was nice to see this form of charity happening here, as I have not witnessed much of this here, yet.
If you are not dressed appropriately to enter this holy site, i.e. your shoulders are showing or your shorts/skirt is too short, you are able to use sarongs or scarfs to cover yourself while on the premises, this is all offered for free. Entry is also free into the temple.
First, you walk into a large building that has many donation boxes, gifts to be bought, as a donation to the Temple, and monks that sit around on their iPads waiting bless you. For real though, this monk was on his until a lady and her song came up to be blessed! (See earlier post about blessings if you are curious what it is like). A few cats wonder around, or lay, hot and sleepy.
To get to the actual Buddha you must ascend about 50 or so stairs. Not anything too strenuous, but with the heat and humidity, it seemed a challenge for some of the older patrons.
Once at the top, There is Big Buddha. Glorious. The Sun was starting to set behind him and it was a mesmerizing site. Bells ringing in the wind, hanging around the outside of the Big Buddha Temple. To go inside, as with any home or holy site in Thailand, you must take off your shoes (even some businesses require this, like where I got my tattoo) before you enter.
Inside the Big Buddha, people come to pray, chant along with the monks, or just sit in peace and meditate. We stayed for one full song (chant). I enjoy it immensely, even though I do not understand the words. The feeling of devotion from the people around you is understandable without a translation.
There were white strings hanging and tied to one another in a maze above people’s heads throughout this Temple. Some people who came to chant or pray would have it unraveled to their heads, or even tied around their head. No exactly sure what this represented. I was thinking maybe its a way to better connect spiritually with others praying or with the Gods.
Outside Big Buddha, people take pictures, selfies, with the beautiful background, or even Buddha. Although I have read that it is against their culture to take pictures of temples, it did not seem to be a theme at this site.