Travel

This ridiculously weird Buddhist temple pays homage to... the Predator?

Because you can't spend your entire trip to Thailand in the red light district, you'll find one of the country's most spectacular attractions in its northernmost city of Chiang Rai -- Asia's largest swing! It's at Boomerang Adventure Park. Also, Wat Rong Khun, the most unexpectedly modern Buddhist temple complex in the entire world, right down to the statue of Predator and mural showcasing Superman.

Also known as "The White Temple", Wat Rong Khun is the brainchild of a Thai artist named Chalermchai Kositpipat; it's literally his life's work, as construction began in 1996 and isn't expected to be completed 'til 2070, when he'll be 115 years old.

There're two bridges leading up to the main building (or ubosot, if you're taking notes); the first one represents the "cycle of rebirth" and passes over a pit symbolizing Hell. 

In a scene reminiscent of something from Dante's Inferno and/ or The Walking Dead, the pit's actually a gaping, fanged mouth filled with creepy outstretched hands that represent human desire. 

Oh yea, they're also holding objects like bowls, skulls, and even, it would appear, a microphone. As you walk by, you're meant to drop a beat leave any mental impurities here before proceeding on to the temple itself.

Instead of limiting himself to traditional imagery in the temple's artwork (like this insanely awesome statue of Rahu, whose mouth you walked over earlier), Chalermchai decided to add characters and scenes from contemporary culture. And that's where things get a little weird...

Yep, that's a statue of the Predator, buried waist-deep in the grass outside. Forced to guess, we'd say the artist's intention is to balance aspects of the chaotic physical world with the purity of spiritual ideals. Well, that or dude just really loves sci-fi.

You'll recognize some other familiar faces inside the temple itself; a brilliantly detailed mural depicts the horrors of human existence and features movie icons such as Superman, Spiderman, the creepy dude from Saw, and even Neo from The Matrix -- although if you're talking human horrors, probably The Matrix III. Chalermchai's constantly adding details to the mural, so no single picture can do it justice.

While the white temple is representative of the mind, this golden structure's meant to symbolize the body. As such, it totally makes sense that the place houses a public restroom said to be made entirely of gold.

Viewing the project as a way to achieve immortality (he's, loosely translated, "taught the disciples to continue my imagination until completed"), Chalermchai's vision for Wat Rong Khun includes a total of nine buildings designed to create a "paradise of immense grandeur". With creepy masks. Don't forget the creepy masks.

Gianni Jaccoma is an editorial assistant for Thrillist Travel. It is now his life's ambition to use a golden toilet. Follow him on Twitter at @gjaccoma.