“I was shocked by the thunderous morale support they gave to me and encourage me not to give up to bring this world’s treasure back to all people in this world,” he said in reversing his earlier determination not to repair it as it was beyond repair in the remaining time of his life.
Chalermchai said beginning tomorrow part of the temple, which comprises of several buildings will be open to visitors to take pictures but with restriction to buildings which are unsafe and will be allowed to see from the outside.
He also joked that what he told of yesterday was just to weigh how much his temple is loved by the people when he said it was beyond repair and would not rebuild it but to leave it as it is as a monument.
But now he said he has changed his mind after the support not only from the people of Chiang Rai, or the Thai people across the country, but from people across the world sending him messages to fight on not only for Thais but for the world reasoning that the White Temple is a world treasure that must be retained forever.
He said his staff wept in tears for the art works that they help to create on the wall and ceilings but all collapsed to pieces on the ground from the tremors.
The art works were masterpieces that they spent 16 years to paint and were renowned to the world.
” They are the heart of the temple,” he said.
He said the Department of Public Works and Town & Country Planning has offered a warm lending hand to inspect the structures of all buildings to see which could be repaired or torn down.
He said if the department has given safety certification to which building then it will be reopen immediately.
He also said some building as seen from outside were not badly damaged but just falling roof tiles.
But from inspection inside there are serious cracks all over the wall, the beams and ceilings.
He cited example of a building which was seen from outside to have its top broken and bended and no external damages.
But there are cracks all over inside which are unsafe and entry will be prohibited until officials will certify it is safe.
He said the repair works will begin immediately on buildings while the damaged mural paintings and work of art on the walls and ceilings needed to be neatly and carefully created to their originals.
“Every painting must be strictly kept to originals whether it be colours and sizes and patterns as their originals had been taken in photos, videos from visitors around the globe. So I have to keep them to their originals even it will be a very, extremely difficult work to do that,” he promised.
The painting will take at least two years and he promised to devote his life for the work even though he is now over 60.
“My friends kept calling to say they are 70 years old and still have fire, so I’m only at sixties why not restart it,” he said.
The national artist also said the gallery building is safe and will be open to visitors in a few days. But for unsafe buildings no entry will be allowed.
But he said visitors will be allowed to take pictures from outside in restricted area to see the rumbles of the collapsed wall and roofs which might be kept as a memory of its past glory, he said.
The White Temple is 13 kilometres south of town. Consctruction of the temple began in 1997.
Unlike most century old temples, Wat Rong Khun is the “dream-come-true” work of art of a famous Thai Buddhist art painter Charlemchai Kositpipat.
The millionaire artist spent his own money to fund the construction of his vision without ever soliciting contributions from the government or anyone else.
His creative thinking and love of Art made him return to his home town and dedicate the rest of his life building the temple as an offering to Buddha and, in the future, turn it into a national art treasure.