a peek inside the fishbowl

25 Jan, 2020

Big Buddha

Posted by andrea tomkins in: travel talk

The Thailand diaries continue! To read past posts in this series, click here.

Some of you MAY HAVE ALREADY DEDUCED that I was, er, SLIGHTLY anxious at almost every turn during this holiday. I shared photos from our trip on Twitter while we were there and someone said I was brave. BRAVE. Ha. HAHA. I replied that I am definitely not brave, just curious. Bravery is saving someone from a burning building, not using a credit card to book a flight and then walk around a foreign country.

Our PM plan on this day was to visit Big Buddha, a famous site in Phuket.

While we lounged by our pool that morning I spent a couple of hours trying to figure out the best way to get there. I did not see an easy way, and what I did find was booked up. So, upon the advice from someone on TripAdvisor, I downloaded the Thai version of Uber, plugged in a credit card (BTW one didn’t work, one did), and hailed a ride that way.

I don’t think I really need to point out how worried I was throughout this whole Thai ride-sharing process, but I will. For starters: we were two women, about to get into a car – THAT LOCKS – with a STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, trusting that we’d arrive at a distant place, safely, in one piece.

There was no getting around without trust, is there? Sigh.

However, the rational side of me understood that if I let my worries take over we would never see or do anything. I also remembered that a long time ago I promised myself that I wouldn’t let fear make my decisions for me, so, I had no choice but to soldier on if we wanted to see Big Buddha. And you know what? Everything was fine, in fact, it was more than fine.

Spoiler alert: I put aside my fear and was rewarded with one of the most memorable days on our trip.

First of all, the drive. It took about an hour and it was pretty cool, along twisty mountain roads with sights to be seen out either window. Whether it was vegetation, water, or a cityscape, there was always something interesting to absorb:

Drive to Big Buddha

I wish I had photos of the last bit of road to Big Buddha and the parking lot next to it. It’s a single, narrow, winding two-lane road with a lot of trees and a few small hotels along the way and then BOOM there you are. In a parking lot. Thankfully, our driver told us he’d wait for us, which is great because I was seriously wondering how we were going to get back to our residence. (TRUST, ANDREA.)

Here is a sign (you can see Big Buddha’s head at the top):

Visiting Big Buddha, Phuket

Near the bottom of the photo you’ll see a clothing stand. Nothing for sale here folks, it’s a sarong lending station. As a religious site, modest dress is required. It’s considered disrespectful to show your shoulders or wear short shorts or short skirts. And if someone deems to you be underdressed, you are given a loaner so you can cover up. Thankfully we dressed appropriately!

This is what it looked like as we entered:

Visiting Big Buddha, Phuket

There were little kiosks lining the entrance. These giant wheels are symbols of Buddism. (You can read more about them here.):

Visiting Big Buddha, Phuket

We walked a little farther. Big Buddha is about to come up on the right:

Visiting Big Buddha, Phuket

This was our first view as we rounded the corner:

First view of Big Buddha, Phuket

… and here’s a wider view:

Visiting Big Buddha, Phuket

You cannot stand there and not feel very very small, but perhaps that is the point.

Big Buddha is at the top of a mountain and you can see it from miles away. It’s a nice view from here too:

The view from the balcony Big Buddha, Phuket

Big Buddha is 45 metres tall, and actually pretty new. Building started in 2004 and according to Wikipedia, was 80% completed by 2017. As you can probably guess by the crane, there’s still a ways to go, but it is still quite grand.

I took about 100 photos and I don’t think they really do it justice.

Big Buddha overlooks construction work

Visiting Big Buddha, Phuket

Big Buddha

Me and Big Buddha

Visiting Big Buddha

This place feels very peaceful and spiritual, not touristy, which I was happy about. It definitely wasn’t busy when we went.

Visiting Big Buddha, Phuket

There are lots of other things to see, including a lovely garden in the back where you can buy a brass tag and leave a message or a blessing. There were thousands of these, hanging on every imaginable surface:

Garden of messages Big Buddha, Phuket

messages and blessings

… and lovely fountains and places to pray and make offerings if you wanted:

Visiting Big Buddha, Phuket

There was an area underneath Big Buddha where you can learn how to pray and chant. I didn’t take many photos here, but it was really interesting to see. (Can you spot the cat?)

Curious cat

Who doesn't want 32 healthy organs?

It was a pretty amazing way to spend a couple of hours, but there was more to come (and totally unexpected!) on the drive home. Remember I spoke about trust? Well, this was a biggie.

1 Response to "Big Buddha"

1 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive The risk that paid off - a peek inside the fishbowl

February 2nd, 2020 at 12:46 pm


[…] the most recent chapter in this series, the youngest daughter and I had just visited Big Buddha, a religious site in Phuket, Thailand. […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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