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Saturday, August 13, 2016

My Penang Diary - Part-2

While we were still in awe of street arts of Penang in George Town, here is Penang diary part-1, we decided next day we would have a spiritual journey day.

Sri Mahamariamman Temple- Penang

We went to Sri Mahamariamman temple in the morning. We offered our prayers and the deities over there were nicely decorated.  Sri Mahamariamman   temple is one of the oldest (200 years) Hindu temple in Penang. The main entrance is colourful and has all the Gods and goddesses. 



When we were still deciding which temple we should visit next, there we met a group of enthusiasts. They were part of a game-hunt organised by Penang heritage centres. And what a pleasant interaction that was, it was pouring and yet they were out, seeking out clues and solving a puzzle on the go. They even clicked some pictures with us. Yes life is full of surprises.




We then went to visit Wat Chaiyamangakalram Thai Buddhist temple or the temple of reclining Buddha of Penang. The temple is famous for its giant sleeping Buddha idol which is 33 m in length. 

Reclining Buddha in Wat Chaiyamangkalaram


And then also Buddha images in various postures according to year of Chinese birth year. The walls are painted with Gautama Buddha’s life-inspiring stories. 


We even spotted the story of ‘Angulimaal’ and enlightenment of Buddha under Bodhisattva tree. 
The temple was built by a Thai Buddhist monk who followed Theravada sect of Buddhism. There is another small temple just adjacent to the main temple, where Buddha is seated. If you are not in rush, you can sit here meditate and pray.


Burmese Buddhist temple

We came out form this temple, and visited Burmese Buddhist temple just across the road. The Dhammikarma Buddhist temple is a Burmese temple. The temple is in a big complex – which consists of main shrine hall, a sima hall, dining hall, monk’s quarter, a library, a lodge, a lecture hall and a Sunday school. The entire complex is well maintained and the greenery all around it makes it a very pleasant and a calming landscape. The Buddha idol is large and looks breath-taking.


The Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas

After spending much time over here, we headed to Kek Lok Si temple in Air Itam in Penang, where we had a lovely meal at the restaurant in the temple complex of Kek Lok Si temple. The restaurant is big, but the atmosphere is relaxed and also the ladies who were managing the restaurant were polite and friendly. Although, they have a fabulous menu – ranging from traditional Chinese cuisine to local Penang style recipes, but we opted for vegetarian fried noodles and vegetarian spring rolls.

Kek Lok Si temple complex

We took the steps towards Kek Lok Si main temple, enjoying the view from above, taking breaks on steps. The way towards the temple, reminds me of our Kashi Vishawanth temple in Varanasi, as one ends up moving and manoeuvring many commercial small stores selling all sorts of things, souvenirs, dresses, T-shirts, toys and handicrafts. The passage way leads to a pond where many tortoises were kept.
The Kek Lok Si temple premise is set amidst the backdrop of hillside view and the city view. The temple first opened for public in 1905.We were amazed to see the giant statue of The Kuan Yin- the Goddess of mercy, which is a 30.2 m bronze statue. 

Kuan-Yin in Kek Lok Si temple

The temple is a major tourist hub and spread across consisting of many shrines and pavilions.
The temple is first approached by the three-tier pagoda at the ground level and then towards middle layer of main prayer hall, in between we also passed the Laughing Buddha, and horse headed shrine of Kuan Yin.
After taking another turn we went to the area towards Grand hall, but our eyes were set on the pagoda of the Ten Thousand Buddhas.


The pagoda is differentiated into three tier and each tier is defined differently namely – Chinese, Thai and Burmese architecture. The crown of pagoda is called Chedi. In total there are 10,000 Buddhas and we climbed each level up to the top. The view from top was splendid, we can view the city, the entire Kek Lok Si temple complex and all the greenery scattered over hill top.


We came down and made our way to the Grand hall. There we also came across Buddha statues in Grand hall and where we lighted a candle and sat there for a while absorbing the tranquility of the atmosphere.


We took the inclined lift to reach the main prayer hall, where there is a zodiac garden and a place for prayer set amidst a beautiful pond and a miniature waterfall .



We did our prayers here and lighted some incense sticks as well. The prayer ribbons were also very vibrant and colourful.
We spend last leg of our visit in Kuan Yin pavilion, admiring the giant Statue. This remained one of our best memories of Penang. No visit in Penang is complete, if you haven’t been to Kek Lok Si temple.

Gurney Drive


After a day visiting temples and much like an inner spiritual journey, we decided to explore some shopping options next day. When you are in Malaysia, and if you haven’t done any shopping in big shopping malls, then something you are missing out. We went to Gurney drive where the Gurney drive plaza and Gurney Paragon are famous shopping malls.

Queensbay Mall


They have a good range of stores from designer brands to local stores selling lots of things. I don’t have to write about those famous international brands, if you think about them they all have stores over here. And then there are people shopping and doing more shopping, some even lost in the mall, what to buy and why we are here- ‘ like us ‘.

Queensbay Mall

Anyways, we went to the food court and tried the famous Penang Char Koey Teow and



Nasi kandar ayam.



Food was absolutely delicious, what is not to like in Penang cuisine.
The food-joint owner even posed for my camera-how gracious of her.





She even called me back to show me Char Mee.



While we went to the top floor, we saw an exhibition of Penang lifestyle, back in 70’s.




After all those shopping and temple visits, we finally decided to relax in a beach. The last day was a refreshing change for us with a beach day.


A question one always seeks out is, what does the mind wants. Sometimes it’s as simple as to listen to the waves and feel the cool breeze over face. And a serene feeling when you walk on the beach. Batu Ferringhi is the most famous beach in Penang.




The golden sands stretch as far as you can see. Although this has become a commercial hub recently with various water sports and activities- like parachuting, boating and biking but still if you can get a corner of peace somewhere, which I do hope you still can, the peace leaves you with harmonious sound of waves. Try to go early morning, the beach is rather not that occupied, but after lunch, the area is crowded with hordes of tourists. We had a lovely lunch in one of the eateries near the beach. The chicken curry and steamed rice was delicious. As we came to our last day in Penang, the beach day was fun and relaxing as well.




As Henry Davis Thoreau has said ‘Not until we are lost do we begin to understands ourselves.’ And Tolkien has also said something similar ‘Not all those who wander are lost.’ We were lost in Penang for couple of days- away from maddening rush of our daily lives  – exploring its natural beauty, landscape, culture and people. But when we arrived back in Kuala Lumpur, our vision and perception about the place has changed, perhaps we found something even though we were lost there. And this is what Travel does to you.
Penang has left us craving for more, next time if we visit again, we have plenty of other things to do and see. For the time being, we are calling it a day and taking out our traveller’s boots.


You all have a relaxing weekend.

7 comments:

  1. wow that temple is looking so beautiful. it have so awesome statue of god.
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  2. Jaya, what a wonderful travelogue...so beautifully written and the pictures really took me along!..

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    Replies
    1. Hi Valli, how r you ...long time :-) ...thank you for reading and liking the travelogue.

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  3. Looks like you had a really good time...loved reading it.

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    1. Yes Saswati we did and thanks for stopping by...

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  4. Glad that you had a good time in our quaint little island. Did you miss the durians?

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  5. Wonderful penang diary! Which you have experienced thanks for sharing the nice piece of information.
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