Penang is not just known for its incredible beaches and amazing street food. It is also the site of the largest Buddhist temple in South East Asia, and has been designed to represent many different ethnicities.
Penang is known for being a very scenic place virtually anywhere on the island, but here at Kek Lok Si Temple the surrounding verdant countryside looked amazing. It was not just on the horizon where things looked scenic though; there were many beautiful liberation ponds in the temple complex, where monks release turtles to “freedom” every now and then, to join the seemingly endless supply of koi carp.
As always in Malaysia, there is a hive of activity wherever you go. The temple may be a large Buddhist place of worship, and may be extremely popular with the tourists thus, but in addition I saw plenty of workmen and gardeners touching up or repairing certain parts of the temple complex. One thing I didn’t like too much was the amount of shops and food carts littered around the area. The vendors were not pushy, but nonetheless it kind of ruined the moment of being around an important temple, if you get my drift. It’s highly commercialised here.
The famous Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas at Kek Lok Si was my favourite part of the temple, and if you look closely, you will identify with Chinese design in the bottom third, Thai design in the middle, and Burmese design at the top (I guess the gold is supposed to mimic the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon). This multicultural marvel was a true highlight of Penang, and I was fortunate enough to see worshippers inside the temple praying in front of golden statues of Buddha.
Kek Lok Si was one of the best parts of Penang, and despite being ‘templed out’ from other parts of South East Asia, I still enjoyed it here immensely. It just seemed different. And cool. To see what else I got up to in the city, please refer to my post Perusing Penang!