9 May 2014
Wat Rong Khun, better know as the White Temple to many tourists, was one of the casualties of the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks that hit Chiang Rai province on Monday. Initial prospects for the temple didn’t look promising, but the local artist who built Wat Rong Khun had a change of heart and vowed to repair the damage caused by the tremors.
National artist Chalermchai Kositpipat was understandably emotional when he initially viewed the damage to a labour of love which he has worked on for almost 20 years. Inspecting Wat Rong Khun the day after the quake, Chalermchai thought the intricate murals and paintings inside were beyond repair. The Chiang Rai artist said, ‘Everything is finished and I may leave the temple, a world’s masterpiece, as it is now for the latter generation to remember.’
Following his statements, messages of support for the artist poured in. On Wednesday, Chalermchai thanked the many well-wishers from within Thailand and overseas. Their encouragement prompted him to rethink his views and he announced his intention to repair all the damage and restore the artwork within the next 2 years. From the outside, the damage to the buildings doesn’t appear too bad with some roof tiles dislodged. It’s the cracks to the internal walls, beams and ceilings which will take time to put right. Subject to safety measures, the temple will still be open for visitors to take photos from the outside, but some of the interior will be off-limits as the repair work takes place.