The Largest Chinese Temple in Thailand
Those of us living in Bangkok and Thailand in general are used to seeing Chinese temples and shrines littered about the place. They are all part of the rich tapestry that is Thailand but naturally reflect the roots of many of its citizens.
The other day, chatting to some friends just before the Chinese New Year celebrations one of them said to me "Have you been out to see the Chinese temple at Bang Bua Thong? It's not far from here. Apparently it is the largest in Thailand." Well like most others I have been to Bangkok's Chinatown which lies basically between Hua Lumphong railway station and Ratchawongse ferry pier but I had never heard of any special Chinese temple in Nonthaburi province, for it is there. I was given some general directions but this being Thailand i knew that I would have to go and find and see it myself and then I would be able to post this information on this blog!!
Wat Leng Yi Noei 2
Once I got home I looked up "Bang Bua Thong Chinese Temple" on Google. Interestingly there really isn't much written about it and certainly no clear directions how to get there by public transport!! Nevertheless I had an address and a reasonable idea of where it was and therefore how to get there. It turned out to be surprisingly easy albeit requiring a reasonable amount of walking. Simply put, you take the 134 bus on Rattanthibet Road and ask for Wat Chine (sounds more like Jean, the woman's name.) It is quite a long ride and is about 2 km past Big King which is the most obvious landmark. Once you get off the bus you cross over the road by the overhead walkway and go down the road with the entrance arch saying St. Mary Mediatrix, alternatively you can take a motorcycle taxi as there are several hanging around here. From the main road it is actually a bit of a hike but you just follow the signs to Wat Leng Yi Noei 2 which , even as a Thai sign, is obvious. After a while the temple is visible albeit quite a way off and you just follow your nose so to speak, walking past shop houses and the like.
Wat Leng Yi Noei 2
On approaching the temple it is obviously quite an imposing sight with traditional Chinese gates at the front and then several levels of steps leading up to the main buildings. The front room or chamber has the traditional Chinese temple guards and walking through this chamber leads on, via a small courtyard, to a three tiered audience hall with a variety of Buddha statues both large and small interspersed with other Chinese deities like Kwan Yin (the Goddess of Mercy). It is strictly shoes off when entering any of the main chambers.
On one stage the wall is covered in mini buddha statues that one can buy and have placed on the wall with your name (10,000 baht at the time of this visit.) All around the the ceilings of the covered walkways are adorned with traditional Chinese temple motives with the colour red obviously being in abundance.
No doubt the temple itself is impressive and well worth the visit. Sadly there are no 'grounds' to speak of where one can wander and enjoy the sight of the temple from various angles. In addition the surrounding area is pretty slummy, although this might have been caused by the recent floods which affected this area badly. Nevertheless it is a pity that no trouble has been taken to make the overall surrounding area as pleasant experience as the temple itself which undoubtedly is worth a visit.