Kek Lok Si Temple and More Artsy Stuff

The Actress and I woke up to a gloomy Georgetown. There was even a drizzle while we were having breakfast and when we were on our way to the bus stop. It was our last day in Penang and our only agenda was to visit Kek Lok Si Temple, which is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia.
Where are you, Bus 201?

Strapping on our backpacks and arming ourselves with towels and water bottles, The Actress and I boarded bus number 201, which will take us to Air Itam where Kek Lok Si Temple is situated. It took us almost 40 minutes to reach Air Itam and arrive at the entrance of the temple. We warmed up and stretched our legs before we went inside and traversed the uphill route towards Kek Lok Si. It was still early in the morning so the stalls that usually entrench themselves on either side of the covered walkway was still nowhere in sight, which was great because the last time I was here it was such a harassing experience having vendors throw their unwanted selves and merchandises on my path.
How liberating it is to be imprisoned in a man-made pond.
The Actress and I reached the Liberation Pond after a few minutes of climbing up the stairs. According to Chinese tradition, turtles symbolize strength, endurance and longevity, and that releasing captured turtles in this pond is an act of spiritual freedom or liberation, thus the name Liberation Pond. Apparently, every living turtle in Penang has been “freed” into the Liberation Pond because every surface of the pool was covered in turtles. I felt sorry for those turtles because there was obviously not enough space for all of them; they were even piling themselves on top of each other. It was actually reminiscent of what my countrymen and I have to do endure on a daily basis whenever we ride the LRT or MRT during the morning and evening rush hours. Also, Maricel Soriano would not find it amusing to be placed in such a congested area.
I know; too much detail and color in one temple.
We finally arrived at the temple complex and we walked up the ramp to go to the first temple. The ramp had a few beggars who were obviously looking for loose change but none of them were really a hassle and they were not too pushy, which is totally opposite of those street urchins we have back at home who get mad at you if you give them a newly bought Jolibee Chicken Joy meal instead of cash (true story). Apparently bums these days now have the gall to be choosy. And such temerity these leeches have to decline Jolibee Chicken Joy! I think The Actress did give a few ringgits to an old and nice-looking lady. I, however, am a different story. Anyway, the garden surrounding the temple had rows of identical standing Buddha statues and just up ahead of that is an area that has a great view overlooking Penang. It even has a bench you can sit on if you want to take your time to contemplate your abysmal love life or your blip existence.
That’s Buddha’s hand, by the way. The statues were finally finished and painted. They were still being constructed on my last visit.
We went inside the temple and we were greeted by three humongous and smiling Buddha statues. While the temple and all of the statues and ornaments inside it were intricately and beautifully designed, I found the place a bit sinister (probably because of the lack of natural lighting). That’s actually something normal whenever I enter Chinese or Buddhist temples. I have this absurd fear that in the middle of going around a temple’s sacred grounds some evil Shaolin master will tear down a nearby wall, jump over to me and punch me in the chest, which will then cause me to throw up copious amounts of blood, then I’ll be hurled to the other side of the room and convulse momentarily on the floor before I die. I knew I shouldn’t have binge-watched those Chinese martial arts movies they used to telecast in the afternoons when I was in elementary school.
Magkano kaya ‘to pag sinangla ko? Tsarlots.
There weren’t a lot of tourists staying long in this temple becauselike the Actress and Ithey probably don’t know what in the bloody hell they should do inside. We can’t offer a prayer obviously because we’re not Buddhists and we don’t know how to do it properly anyway if we did attempt it, so we just settled with getting our cameras out and taking photos.
Up to the Kuan Yin statue we go.
Behind the temple is a simple shop that sells souvenirs, religious stuff like prayer beads and CD recordings of chants and incantations, and even camera batteries. At the back of the shop is the inclined lift that will take you to the massive Kuan Yin statue. The Actress and I made our way over there, paid the fee and waited for the funicular to pick us up.
The massive Kuan Yin statue that has yet to be finished.
The Kuan Yin statue was still not complete and you still cannot enter the pavilion because of the ongoing construction. I was told that there were issues with the contractors and the payments, which is why there is still no definite completion date. Regardless, it’s an attraction that is worth checking out when you go to Kek Lok Si Temple.
Tiny Buddha statues scattered on the grounds of the Kuan Yin pavilion. I mean no disrespect, but I found them cute.
Aside from the Kaun Yin pavilion there are other impressive statues and carvings in the vicinity. There are even tiny and cute Buddha statues and… wait a second, what the hell is Minnie Mouse doing there?! There’s also a great view overlooking Penang and the gardens in this part of the temple are really nice. The gardens even have statues of the 12 zodiac signs, including your blasted ex-boyfriend.
Like I said, you can find your ex-boyfriend in this part of Kek Lok Si temple. So ex…. damit mo ba yan o balat mo?
The Actress and I were supposed to go next to the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas, but we decided to skip it. The Actress already saw way too much temple-y stuff and she said she’s experienced enough Buddhism for the day. I, on the other hand, still had a conference call at work scheduled in the afternoon so we definitely had to go. We left Kek Lok Si Temple before lunch time and went back to the hostel.
I am also wondering how Minnie Mouse found her way in a Buddhist temple.
While I was in the middle of my conference call, The Actress was busy researching what else we could do that afternoon so as not to waste our last day in Penang. After browsing through countless websites, she suggested that we visit the Hin Bus Depot Art Center, which is located at Jalan Gurdwara. It was fine with me since we really didn’t cram so many activities for our final day in Penang.
Inside the Hin Bus Depot Art Center
The Actress and I were on the streets again by late afternoon and we made our way to Hin Bus Depot by foot. You can definitely take a cab or a bus going there if you don’t feel like walking. However, since the sun was about to set in a few hours and the temperature has already went down considerably, we decided to just skip the transportation vehicles and see what interesting sights and people we could still chance upon before arriving at our destination. We did encounter a handful and we even got lost momentarily. Bahaha!
Murals from Ernest Zacharevi’cs first art exhibition in Penang still stand to this day.
Hin Bus Depot is an abandoned bus depot that has evolved (or rather, is still evolving) into a full-fledged art space. While there are permanent art pieces installed there like Ernest Zacharevic’s murals from his first exhibition in Penang, there are also some artworks that have already been discarded and replaced with new ones. How the Hin Bus Depot Art Center looked when we went there may be a whole lot different when you decide to pay it a visit, so do manage your expectations.
Rainbow. Just be cause it’s June and it’s pride month.
We didn’t see much that afternoon, and at the time, they were still setting up the place for an upcoming art exhibition. Unfortunately, The Actress and I will already be in Thailand when it opens. There’s also a café in the vicinity if you want your daily caffeine fix while checking out those beautiful artworks. We went around the area and took photos, and made our way back to the hostel to start packing our bags. Our next stop for this trip is Bangkok and that would be a 22-hour train ride from Butterworth. It’s time to get some much needed rest and figure out what would be our last meal in Malaysia.