|what the hell!|
"Welcome to Garden of Hell, Heaven and Golden Land of Buddhism."
Yai, my local friend translated what's written in Thai alphabet; above the gate I was about to enter. There's no ticket booth or any staffs on sight. We just need to put 10 baht coins into the slot machines and the automatic gate to the hell will be opened for you. We were the only visitor that afternoon in the garden full of demonic-looking life size statues. Though the garden was bright with sunshine, I found the quietness was rather blood-curdling.
Wat Mae Kaet Noi or famously known as the Hell temple is located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai city. It's pretty challenging to find for the first timer because we couldn't find any sign board or direction to this temple. Phi Ton, our chauffeur drove carefully through some narrow street before we finally saw a couple of skull statues greeted us in front of the gate. What I knew about Buddhist temples are, usually displays beautiful and tranquil elements but this temple is the opposite. Wat Mae Kaet Noi is loaded with disturbing and gory statues so the visitors could take a peek what will hell be like.
|gigantic pimple-loaded statue|
I watched a short documentary film about this temple sometime last year (scroll down to watch the video) and instantly put it on my bucket list. Some of you who have been following my journey might have noticed that I have a special interest in horror thingy, cemeteries and skulls. While travelling, I usually try to squeeze time to visit haunted places or admiring some tombstones on graveyard and one of my fave is Catacombs of Paris that I visited a few years back.
|thieves got their hands chopped off|
Heaven and hell. Angel and demon. No one has ever scientifically proved they exist but some religions believe it. And of course every religions have different ideas about this. I can't say that I'm a fully believer either but most of the time I have big curiosity of these topics and I am intrigued to find out. However it irks me when I see people fight each other, so persistent that their religion is the best. Why can't they settle with the idea that everyone has their own opinions? Oh well, who am I to judge what's right and wrong though? I, myself a grown up woman who cries over cartoon movies or gets upset when my fried chicken skin is snatched by other. Doh!
|that looks awfully painful|
|Nope, not Moana. It's Nang Tani, the spirit of the Banana Tree|
The head monk Pra Kru Vishanjalikon once stated that the scariest thing is our mind. He built this temple to remind people about goodness and morality. Also to share his vision about the scary punishment in Naraka or hell when you do sinful acts during life. Every so often, students are taken to this temple for a school trip so they can learn about the consequence of leading a bad life. Yai told me that there's 5 prohibitive articles in Buddhism, which are:
1. To abstain from taking the lives of living beings.
2. To abstain from taking that which is not given.
3. To abstain from sexual misconduct.
4. To abstain from telling falsehoods.
5. To abstain from distilled and fermented intoxicants, which are the occasions of carelessness (which also includes drugs).
|Phya Yom, the Death King|
|the punishment for a cheating wife|
What I learnt from the temple was the punishment in Buddhist hell are specific to the crimes committed. Like the one from the picture above, a cheating wife got something that looks like a humongous eggplant inserted to her vajajay. Thieves got their hand hands chopped off by a chainsaw. Some murderer got their body processed inside what looked like a meat grinder or their body split in half. Some souls got boiled alive inside a huge bubbling vat. And so on. Some tortures are way too vulgar to describe. I even had to looked away because I can't bear to imagine how excruciating it is!
The detail of the statues are mind-blowingly fine that I almost got a heart attack when I turn my head around and suddenly there was a Krasue swinging loosely only 5 centimetres from my face. Gosh! Even more, some of the exhibits have mechanical and electric light components which can be activated by inserting a ten baht coin into the slot. The frightening-sounding audio plays some spine-tingling painful screams and crying from the aborted babies.
In the Southeast Asia folklore, Krasue is a nocturnal spirit in a form of a beautiful woman with her internal organs hanging down. The Krasue in under a curse that makes her always hungry and hunting every night for a flesh or fresh blood. Besides attacks cattle and chicken, the Krasue also preys on pregnant women and feeding on unborn babies with vampire-like teeth, causing miscarriage.
That's scary! Why doesn't she suck belly fat instead?
|labour and birth while some Krasue waiting eagerly|
|the baby tree!|
After spending a good 1 hour taking pictures of those heart wrenching and demonic statues, I kinda relieved when I finally arrived at the peaceful garden of Heaven. The sun suddenly seemed shine brighter and the surrounding felt peaceful. No more desperate agonising scream sound torturing my ears. There's not much to see here though so I just walked around for a while amongst the smiley-faced statues, together in heavenly happiness.
|peaceful and smiley face|
The Hell Temple is an interesting alternative if you want to see something different other than tons of gorgeous temples in Chiang Mai. Even if you don't believe in any religions or the existence of heaven and hell, I do still think people could learn a lesson or two about this life. Please do visit with an open mind though. After all this world would be a better place to live when human beings learn to stop hurting each other. Don't you think so? :)
Wat Mae Kaet Noi
Highway 1001, Tambon Pa Phai, Amphoe San Sai
Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50210
Opens from 8am to 6pm