After taking in Khoo Kongsi temple (see Penang Pt II for details) I returned to the hotel to get my girlfriend and we headed out to the bus station again. Thankfully no sandals were snapped this time! Again we stopped for a feast of chinese food for brunch at some local place and after that we had intended to go by local bus to Penang Hill (at 830m above sea level) for its panoramic views but the driver said it was all closed which wasn’t so out of the blue as we had heard a similar story the day before.
As a result we headed down to the southern part of the island to visit Snake Temple which for some reason had to be done in two parts with the gap between the buses being quite long. Luckily a kind local informed us of what was happening and which bus to transfer to.
The main reason for wanting to go to that effort for a temple was the chance to get our picture taken with a snake. I have touched and held a snake or two before but never got the touristy photo. We were both really happy with our photo’s which came as part of the same deal (two photos for 30MYR).
I have since been asked by many students what it felt like (cold, hot, slimy etc) but the truth is that I can’t remember so well as within seconds of agreeing to the photo they put three snakes around me, told me to smile to the camera and then that was it. No time to really experience the moment in terms of stroking or touching them but basically they felt no different, better or worse, than any other animal. I think the snakes were slightly out of it thanks to the strong incense smoke lingering around the place.
We returned to George Town by bus and almost instantly took another bus to Kek Lok Si Temple which is the island’s most prominent and famous temple. Despite that accolade I didn’t really have any desire to see it as a temple is a temple in my book. However, my girlfriend had read about this place while I was out on my ‘Anna & the King‘ filming locations scouting mission that morning. Ultimately it was a good idea of hers as its hilltop setting was really picturesque. It was a long climb up to the entrance but went almost un-noticed as we had to walk up narrow steps through a load of souvenir stalls.
The first stop was a slightly cramped pond jam-packed with turtles and the rest of the impressive complex soon followed which included a seven tier 30metre tower and a cable-car ride up to the huge bronze statue amid an area of more temples, a fish pool and animal statues of the Chinese zodiac.
We only just caught the last cable-car of the day going up which meant we had to take the long walk down where it started to drizzle a bit. I rewarded myself with a huge ais kacang which is basically a dessert of ice shavings topped with syrups, coconut milk, red beans, seeds and jelly.