10 mar 2013

Sunday's tale: the Thai Temple of recycled beer bottles

Sunday's Tale: a post from the past
In the Thai landscape, Buddhist temples are very common sight.
Deep in Sisaket province, in the north-east of Thailand, lies one incredible temple complex. Its official name is Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew but it is known by almost everyone as Wat Lan Kuad or the Temple of a Million Bottles
There’s an estimated 1.5 million bottles bound in concrete into the temple. It is a novel way to recycle any empties.

The construction of this temple complex began in 1984, as the monks found themselves with an excess of donated beer bottles that they previously used just to decorate existing buildings.
The resident Buddhist monks at the complex encourage local authorities to deposit any used bottles at the temple which they then use to build new structures and works of art to the grounds of the temple. "The more bottles we get, the more buildings we make", says Abbot San Kataboonyo. Everything on the temple site, from the crematorium to the toilets, incorporates the bottles, making a space that’s both functional and beautiful. Bottle caps have been used to decorate murals, and to create mosaics of Buddha.

The monks have come to prefer the bottles over traditional red clay bricks as they don’t fade and produce a fantastic colored ambient light. They primarily use green and brown glass bottles from the beer brands Heineken and Chang. Some of the older buildings in the complex are created with rare square shaped Heineken bottles that are easily stackable and were briefly sold in the 80′s. Perhaps that is where the idea for bottles as bricks was originally conceived.

Even though drinking is a sin in Buddhism, this still seems like a positive use of beer and lager bottle. So, if you find yourself in Thailands Sisaket province consider stopping by and earning some merit. Or at least just enjoy a cold beer and donate your bottle to the effort!




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