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Thailand's White Temple a sanctuary for Buddha — and Hello Kitty

Thailand's White Temple a sanctuary for Buddha — and Hello Kitty

What do Kung Fu Panda, Neo from "The Matrix" and Spider-Man all have in common? If you guessed some sort of vague celebrity, you'd be half-right. These characters share a wall inside the White Temple, a Gaudí-esque Buddhist sanctuary a few miles outside Chiang Rai in northern Thailand, where I visited in December. I had been hankering to see it since I stumbled upon the offbeat structure while surfing the Internet during the run-up to my tour of Asia. As controversial as it is mesmerizing, the shimmering edifice is the brainchild of visual artist and designer Chalermchai Kositpipat, who began working on his self-funded masterpiece in 1997. Even with 60-plus...

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