‘Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment’. It’s one of Buddha’s many wise quotes, and most relevant to the art of travel – carpe diem! In Phuket, there’s plenty of time for bucket-sized cocktails and hedonist pursuits but if you want to level the playing field, perhaps a visit to Wat Chalong, Phuket’s most important Buddhist temple, is in order.
With the majority of the population being Buddhist, temples or wats are an important symbol within the community – and a very beautiful one at that. In Phuket, there are 29 Buddhist temples but if you’ve only got time to visit one, Wat Chalong is a shining example. Here, you can learn about the Buddhist faith and traditions while taking in the ornate, heavenly architecture.
Be sure to observe the ‘dos and don’ts’ when visiting a sacred Buddhist temple. For example, don’t stand over or position yourself higher than a Buddha statue or image, and don’t wear clothes that expose your shoulders, chest, belly or legs. You’ll also need to take your shoes off before entering a temple (however, don’t leave your Manolo Blahniks parked at the doorstep or you might find someone has mistaken your expensive shoes as their own).
What else happens at Wat Chalong? Have your fortune told by the Mor Doo (fortune teller), or uncover your future from a set of numbered bamboo sticks. You shake the sticks in a container and eventually one will come out - the corresponding number leads you to a printed outline of future events. Unfortunately, these predictions are in Thai so your next task is to hunt down a translator. You’ll also come across some more parlour-style games to help you make life decisions. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?