At the top of a hill in the south of Phuket island, you can see a white marble Buddha statues. This is the Big Buddha of Phuket, and it's only a short drive up the mountain on an easy, but winding road. A the road twists around the hill is offers stunning views of Phuket island below, you could come here simply for the views.
Update: Now that the workers have finished the outside, you can see Big Buddha in much more splendor!
Or you could make it more fun by driving up to the top in an All-Terrain-Vehicle, or by Buggy. Lower down the hill, several sites offers shorter trips up to the top by ATV. Road sections combined with off road sections that cut out loops of the winding tarmac, replacing it with loops of winding mud track.
Up high on Buddha's face, workers renovate the statue, with only a single safety line tied to the scaffolding. They should have two carabiners, like I had in Xtreme Adventures Phuket. I can hear them speak, Burmese. There's a lot of Burmese manual workers here in Phuket, they take all the risky jobs the Thai laborers don't want to do.
A section of a lotus flower is on the ground for repair, and I can see behind that it's just a framework of steel rods and fibre-glass holding all that marble up! It must be lighter that way, but if it's hollow then I hope they build stairs up into it. The Erawan Elephant is hollow and has a Buddha inside, so it would be ironic if the Big Buddha of Phuket, had an elephant inside.
This temple has the bells tradition. The trees are covered with bells, each with a little wish written on a metal leaf that blows in the wind. The breeze rings the bell and makes the wish. You can buy a bell, making a donation to the temple, and add your wish to the trees around the Buddha too, for as little as 250 baht.
But since there's renovation work on this Buddha, I chose to write my wish on the marble tile instead. For a 300 baht donation, you can write your dreams, wishes, desires on the back of a marble tile, which will be glued onto the Buddha as they renovate. Your words will be hidden in the glue, but they'll still be there.
Inside the Buddha afternoon prayers are in progress, so I quietly walk around and photograph the concrete structure. All of this will be covered in marble eventually, but for now it looks barren and industrial. Then I notice that up in the roof, there's stairs in the concrete. Yes! I think there will be stairs up into Big Buddha when its finished!
The views from the ground are already fantastic, as I walk around the site, there's little side temples and viewing platforms that let you see all the way around the island. Don't the buildings look tiny from up here?
In the distance, Chalong pier looks inviting too, but I'll visit that another day. What use is visiting a pier unless you plan on taking a boat, or fishing for a sea food lunch?
Big Buddha, can be found in the south of Phuket Island, near Chalong. Follow the signs, be careful you might miss them. There is a bus up to the top, a good road suitable for bikes, and ATVs and other options near the bottom of the hill. It's free to enter and free to park at the top.
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