Kek Lok Si Temple

Trip Start Nov 08, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Malaysia  , Pinang,
Tuesday, January 4, 2011

We really wanted to get out of town and see some of the nearby sights, like Penang Hill, Kek Lok Si Temple, and the Botanical Gardens. We were fortunate enough to get some sunshine, which made for great pictures and was a nice change after the soggy first day.

We started at Kek Lok Si Temple, which our guidebook said was the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. I believe that, because it's a predominantly Muslim country. But wikipedia says it’s the largest in Southeast Asia. That I don’t believe. Angkor Wat is a Buddhist temple, and people still go there to pray. Anyway, Kek Lok Si wasn’t all that sprawling, but it did climb it’s way up the mountain nicely and offer some nice views of the surrounding hills and the city below. The Pagoda of a Million Buddhas (hyperbole) was interesting, and the mixture of Thai and Chinese styles throughout the complex was nicely done. There’s even a Buddha statue that was a gift from the King of Thailand.

The big attraction is the giant statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. It’s…I don’t know. Tall. But there was scaffolding all along one side, so it wasn’t picturesque. And whenever I’m at any grand religious structure I’m torn because I find it fascinating and beautiful, but I also realize the resources required to build and maintain such opulence could build schools and hospitals. I guess the faithful would say that a lot is derived from the shrines too, but I also think penicillin is pretty handy. Still, we spent an interesting couple of hours at the temple.

From there, we caught a cab (which was really just a guy who had a car and was willing to take us across town) to the Botanical Gardens. We were told Penang Hill was closed. I don’t know how you close a hill, but I guess the fact that the train to the top wasn’t running was really the issue. But we wandered around the park around the Botanical Gardens (which were closed because it was a Tuesday) for a long time. We couldn’t get into any of the green houses to see the flowers, but the grounds themselves are beautiful too. And we saw monkeys playing, which is always fun.

So, Penang was a good place to spend a couple of days. It’s too expensive to be a great backpacker destination, and the beaches aren’t great, so I don’t think I’d go back anytime soon. Still, I’m glad we went.

To see Lindsey's awesome Asia-inspired jewelry for sale (she bought several amulets at Kek Lok Si), go to:
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