Call it the ultimate recycling program – over a million beer, soda, water, and other glass bottles have been used in constructing this temple’s buildings.
Call it Wat Pa Maha Kaew if you prefer the official name, or Wat Lan Kuad as the Thai nickname reflecting the million bottles. The collection and construction efforts first started in 1984 when monks used the bottles to decorate their shelters. People began donating more bottles, which allowed the monks to build more buildings, and the cycle has continued to this day. While you’d have a heck of a time trying to count them all, it’s estimated over 1.5 million bottles are currently being used.
So it’s clear, the glass bottles seem more ‘set in place’, with plenty of concrete being the main structural supports. In all, over twenty buildings have glass bottles in their makeup, including the crematorium, living quarters, and even the bathrooms!
Beer bottles aren’t the only ones used – the single 7UP bottle is the obvious one, but the thousands of smaller brown bottles are from energy drinks.
This has got to be the only Buddha made with inlaid glass bottles in Thailand.
The green bottles are from generous drinkers of Heineken, which is one of the most common imported brands around.
Even the bottle caps are used in a number of images.
Let’s not forget about soda bottles, which seem so quaint even though they’re not really all that old.
Two issues kept this destination from ranking higher (a temple like this really should rank in the ‘holy crap this is awesome!’ category). The temple itself seemed virtually abandoned by monks, and a bit of upkeep certainly wouldn’t have hurt. That it’s a 60km ride from Sisaket means you’re probably coming via a tour bus of some kind (which, admittedly, is an easier way to arrive – renting a scooter in Sisaket and driving there is what we did). It’s worth the visit if you’re into weird temples, but its remoteness may make it tough to justify.
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Name: Wat Pa Maha Kaew (AKA Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew AKA Wat Lan Kuad)
Address: Ban Don Mu 2, Tambon Non Sung,, Sisaket, Thailand (GPS: 14.618332, 104.418755)
Directions: It’s not tricky, but it is remote. From Sisaket in eastern Thailand, head south on route 221 for about 21 kilometers. Take a right onto route 2111 and go about 39 kilometers to a large roundabout. Take the third exit, then go about 200 meters and take another right. Look for the temple on your left after going about 200 meters.
Hours: dawn to dusk
Ratings out of 5 globes (How do I rate destinations?)
Ease to arrive:
Worth the visit:
Also published on Medium.