Penang Part 1-11sep 2004

Trip Start Sep 06, 2004
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Trip End May 22, 2005


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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I arrived in Penang or "the pearl of the Orient" on the 10th September 2004.
Penang lies off of the northwest cost of Peninsual Malaysia and it is beautiful.
I arrived in the afternoon at my hotel the casuarina which is in Batu Ferringhi, I have stayed hwere before and it is a lovely relaxing hotel. This time the hotel is looking a bit tired and could do with a bit of a revamp, but it is still clean and comfotable. The staff are lovely and one jman even remembered my from the last time i satyed here in 2001!!. all the rooms have a sea veiw and the pool is right next to the golden sand beach. you can't really swim in the sea because they have REALLY BIG jelly fish round here.
As i arrived so late i didn't really do much except laze by the pool.
On the 11th i booked myself on a City and Heritage tour, this was a 3 hour tour.
We started with a drive dowen to George town(named after King George 3rd ) It is a strange place and mixture of old and new, faiths and cultures.
our first stop was at the Dharmikarama Burmese Temple. Its shining colours were so brilliant againts the dusty streets a rich mixture of reds,greens,blues but maily gold. It is so ornaite it must have taken an army of skilled crafts men ages to builf. it is truly stuning.
As i made my way through the doors of the main temple i was total unprepared for what I saw.
In front of me standing at about 25 feet tall was a glod standi ng Buddha, not the little chubby ones you see but a beautiful almost femining looking buddha. On both sides it was flanked by three gold statues that stood at about 7 foot tall, i'm not sure what these statues symbolise or represent but they were also beautiful. The walls of the temple were covered in tiny little statues, there were hundereds if not thousands of them all sitting on their own little shelves. you couldn't get that close to them but they looked like little buddhas. This is a "working" temple, so the atomsphere was very peacfull, but the smell of incence is almost overpowering in the heat.
From the hussle and bussle of the street this was a place of of tranquillity and reflection. truley awe inspireing. The main temple is surrounded by small pagodas which contact more figurs of woraship, each as ornate as the main teple.
Accross the road from the Burmese temple id the Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram Temple, this is a Buddhist temple with Thai architecture. Again this temple is extremly colourful, but with a bit less gold. It is also were ornate. the main attraction for touriest to this temple is the Reclining Buddha inside, it is the 3rd longest in the world at 108 feet long.From a distance it is a very powerful image but the closer you get the more it looks like a bad prop from disney land.Also the atomsphere inside was very "busy" too many people rushing everywhere, i have to say that the Burmese temple gets my vote.
The last place we stopped on this tour was the elaborate Leonge San Tong Khoo Kongs' temple, situated in Little china. driving upto it you really wouldn't know it was there except for a tantilizing peak of the roof above the plain and tattered surounding wall.
As i walked in to the main square i was speacless, infront of me was the most elaborate temple so far, the intricate carving were stunning. Every one told a story.
This is the second temple to be built as the first more magnificent temple burnt to the ground because or so it is told by the guide that it's resemblance to the Emperors' palace in China. The whole shell of this temple is carved out of stone.
This was an extremly interesting tour and I saw some very beautiful sights, unfortunalty i don't think the pictures do the temples justice.
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