Second port of call
12.01.2017 - 12.06.2007
Penang we viewed from the sea, and what we saw we liked. We couldn't pull into port, so the ship anchored at sea and we were taken in by tender ( a lifeboat).
Once on land we were immediately set upon by taxi drivers - all wanting our business. We did choose one, but not one of the aggressive men, instead one that was standing at the back. Most of them have map which shows the route and sites where you will be taken, I think they are nearly all identical. We had the driver and taxi for the day, he waited for us to see the sites and then took us onto the next one - A perfect arrangement.
Our first stop was at Wat Chayamangkalaram (Reclining Buddha), at the time the 14th largest reclining Buddha in the world. Gold, gold, gold - I had never seen so much gold in my life! As I entered, I noticed the two guards with mythical dragon-headed serpents at their feet. Inside was the 33metre long gold-plated reclining Buddha, lying there on his right side with his head resting in the palm of his right hand and smiling at all those who looked. The reclining Buddha represents the historical Buddha at his death. It is said that the Buddha knew death was approaching, and asked his disciples to prepare a couch for him in a grove! I walked behind the Buddha and found lots of niches containing the ashes of devotees.
After visiting here, it was a walk across the road to see the Dhammikarama (Burmese Temple) - Standing Buddha. This Temple shouldn't be missed either as it's on the Penang Heritage list and is another beautiful Temple.
Here, the Buddha [which is coated with a mix of gold & copper] is not reclining, but is standing 8.2metres high. Behind the Buddha are 16 standing Buddha's which are donations from 16 different Buddhist countries including Thailand, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and even Afghanistan.
Looking upwards there were beautiful woodcarvings on the ceilings and surrounds and to the right of the hall is a small Buddha statue which is said to be more than 200 years old. A pair of elephants guard the entrance to this Burmese temple. Within the pagoda grounds is a Boddhi tree and a wishing pond with a small shrine and a Buddha statue.
IF you visit during the month of April, you will witness the water festival.
Penang was full of Temples! Our next stop was the Nattukkottai Chettiar Temple where some religious event was happening, but I am afraid I can't remember what it was called. Musicians were playing and the Priest was doing a sequence, even though we didn't know was happening it still was interesting to watch.
This Temple was founded around 1854 and is one of the most important Hindu Temples in Penang, also the central focus of the annual Thaipusam festival in Penang when male chettiar carry a peacock feather yoke accompanying a silver chariot.
An estimated 100,000 people attend the Thaipusam festival at the temple, making it the largest festival and human gathering in Penang.
A nice change from the Temples was a visit to the Penang Botanical gardens. The gardens were fairly large and a great escape from the heat. Lots of lawn and plenty of established shade trees, a pretty creek and flower beds, I was quite impressed with them and the new variety of trees I hadn't seen before.
Penang Hill is a MUST VISIT.
To get there, you can either walk to the top, or ride the Swiss made Funicular up the steep hill, this is what we did. Halfway up the hill, you get out and change trains. The line was built in 1923, and takes about a half hour to reach the top, its quite a slow journey, but at least you have time to take photos on the way up, especially the views over Kek Lok Si Temple.
At the top, there is a Kiosk, Restaurant, Souvenir Stalls, Bellevue Hotel, a Mosque, Hindu Temple, Bird Parkand a Canopy walk and lots of wonderful view points - The views are magnificent overlooking Georgetown, the mainland and Penang Bridge.
Back down the funicular to our waiting taxi who takes us to Kek Lok Si Temple we had viewed from the funicular.
Kek Lok Si Temple I think is another MUST SEE in Penang, as it's said to be been one of the finest Buddhist temples in South East Asia, this could well be true! The Temple took quite a few years to build, being completed in 1905, with The “Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas” taking more than 20 years to build and was only completed in 1930.
It is built in tiers, and sits amongst lovely landscaped gardens, a Turtle pond which also has large Carp, shrines and lovely sculptures. Each tier is built in a different design with the 1st tier, a Chinese octagonal base, middle tiers are of Thai architecture and the top is a Burmese crown.
At the start, you may pass few some beggars, we did, then began the climb up many steps to the top. A really lovely Temple to visit!
We spent the rest of our time visiting a few more temples, walking the streets, looking at some mosques
Our final stop was at Pinang Peranakan Mansion Penang
IF YOU LIKE ANTIQUES, THEN YOU WILL LIKE THIS MANSION
The Peranakans, also known as the Babas and Nyonyas, were a prominent community of the Straits Chinese, who adopted selected ways of the local Malays, and later, the colonial British. This created a unique lifestyle and customs which had not only left behind a rich legacy of antiques, but cultural influences like cuisine and language that are still evident in Penang today.
The Pinang Peranakan Mansion is a typical home of a rich Baba of a century ago. It has been recreated to offer a glimpse of their opulent lifestyle and of their many customs and traditions. With over 1,000 pieces of antiques and collectibles of the era on display, this Baba-Nyonya museum is also housed in one of Penang’s heritage mansions with stylish architecture. The Mansion has now been restored, it and the furniture inside is beautiful!
We enjoyed Penang but know there is a lot more to see and do here, once again it goes on the list to return to.