THE Big Buddha is free of scaffolding and making its impact apparent as Phuket's leading man-made tourist attraction.
For the first time, especially on days when the sky is a brilliant Phuket blue, the huge white structure can be seen clearly from all over the south of the island, and the sea beyond.
It is even more impressive up close than from a distance. On one morning recently, four Western women had hiked all the way up to the top, followed by a dog.
A monk exerted less energy and arrived by seung-tau.
Hundreds of other visitors are now joining the trekkers to the top of Nakkerd Hill, from all over Thailand and the world.
Spectacular white jade covers the Big Buddha everywhere except around the lotus blossom on which the 45 metre tall structure sits.
For the structure's supporters, a Big Buddha fair is being held nightly at Phuket's Chatujak Market, near the Phuket City bus station, from 5pm to 11pm until October18.
Then on October 23, along comes the one-tonne big bronze bell.
The one-million baht bell is a gift to the Big Buddha from the Rassada Cooperative Credit Union.
The bell's arrival will be marked by a special ceremony at 4.30pm. That day is a public holiday, King Chulalakorn Memorial Day.
Suporn Vanichkul, president of the construction foundation, told Phuketwan that the Big Buddha itself was almost complete.
But work still needed to be done with landscaping, improving the six kilometre road up the hill, and on the exhibition centre that will go inside the structure.
He said the final cost was likely to be 150 million baht for the entire project. It could be 2010 before it is complete.
There is now the prospect of a cable car running up the hill from Patong, with the Governor already being visited by several groups in favor of the idea.
Environmentalists will have to approve the route of the cable car first.
A similar 38-metre buddha and cable car on one of the islands close to Hong Kong is reported to attract one million visitors each year.
Phuket's Big Buddha, atop a 380 metre hill, has the potential to be even more impressive. Visitors are able to take in spectacular views to both sides of the island.