The Heavenly Kek Lok Si Temple [BIMT21]

June 12, 2009 at 12:33 pm

The Penang curry still warm in our bellies, we drove to the foot of Crane Hill and prepared to climb up to Penang’s most recognizable cultural landmark: the Buddhist Kek Lok Si Temple.

Built into the side of the hill, the temple’s been a work in progress for over a hundred years, with new wings, shrines and statues constantly being added. Unfortunately, construction work was being done on the massive statue of the goddess Kuan Yin during our visit, and scaffolding blocked our view of the 30 meter goddess who looks out over Georgetown.

The climb up to the temple is made via long stretches of enclosed stairways which are lined with market stalls (the likes of which we were now well accustomed to seeing in Malaysia).

Azhar recognized one of the vendors from years past and stopped for a minute to chat. Ian, who was getting flashbacks to the ascent up to the Batu Caves from all of the stair climbing, was all too happy to catch a breather.

MORE STAIRS?! - Ian's last words

MORE STAIRS?! - Ian's last words

The first of the temple’s many features we came across when we finally reached the top of the stairs was an enclosed pond populated by hundreds of turtles. The turtles are left in the pond by Buddhist devotees as symbols of spiritual deburdening, and are fed with vegetable shoots by visitors. I was surprised at how quickly and deftly the lazy sunbathers would swim to the food as soon as it hit the water.

There’s something irresistibly cute about hearing a turtle munch its lunch.

From the courtyard just past the turtle pond we got a great view of the Ten Thousand Buddhas Pagoda, the temple’s most prominent building. We stopped to get some photos and video, and then headed on to explore the temples various ornately decorated pathways and shrines.

The 10,000 Buddhas Pagoda

The 10,000 Buddhas Pagoda

One of the Kek Lok Si's many courtyards

One of the Kek Lok Si's many courtyards

An intricately detailed gateway

An intricately detailed gateway

Colourful lanterns

Colourful lanterns

Ian gave a quick shout-out to the Big B, wishing for prosperity and happiness for his family…and a new skateboard. I’m not sure that’s exactly how the Noble Eightfold Path works, but I don’t know – I’m not a doctor.

Buddha, are you there?  It's me, Ian.

Buddha, are you there? It's me, Ian.

It was still only midday, with plenty of time to check out Penang’s famous beaches.

We started our climb down the hill and headed off for one of Malaysia’s most popular tourist destinations: Batu Ferringhi.

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