Snake temple, a worthy site in Penang
“It’s the only one of its kind in the world!”
I looked up at the Austrian as she read quotes from her guidebook. Florian was an over-excited-about-everything type. Still, she was also not the pushy type and I’d been meaning to visit the snake temple for a while.
After a breakfast of roti canai at Mustafa’s, it was onto a bus to the Snake temple at Sungai Kluang.
Snakes in the Temple
More quote’s from the guidebook by Florian.
It’s a tiny temple, made famous by a statue brought from China of Char Soo Kong, a healer. And, a nest of snakes that have taken up residence in a makeshift hat stand.
The temple was built in 1850. Legend has it that the monk building it gave shelter to snakes from the surrounding jungle; then when the temple was completed, the snakes moved in.
Not so poisonous snakes, according to “the book”
“Can I touch?”
Austrians have no fear of snakes it seemed.
“I probably wouldn’t,” was my reply.
Disappointed, Florian read some more from the book. Then, quoted something about it not being advisable to touch the snakes. Happy with the books word, she moved on to the “photo with a snake room” for an obligatory photo.
I cringed. Maybe my choice of travel partner today had been a little too hasty.
If it’s not in the book …
Thankfully during the mandatory snake photos Florian was paying for I met Eric. A solo Australian traveler who was equally unimpressed with the queues of tourists waiting for compulsory photo’s of giant pythons around their necks.
“You seen the Hindu temple down the road?”
“No, anything special?” I asked.
“Yer, no snakes?”
Florian didn’t get the humor, and near on refused to go. Apparently the Hindu temple wasn’t in the book, so she’d automatically dismissed it.
A quite beautiful Hindu temple (Sri Vishwanather Sri Visalatchi Temple)
I’m not sure why, but Hindu temples when freshly painted always look so new to me. As we had no information about it, I had no idea when it had been built. (edit – thanks to Blake for leaving a comment which identifies this as the Sri Vishwanather Sri Visalatchi Temple)
Inside the main temple were pillars that on each face had a statue of Hindu god. I’ve seen plenty of Hindu gods, but these looked very new, freshly painted, and very well displayed.
Florian rushed by, and was now sitting on the steps reading from her guidebook. Eric was in no rush, chatting to some Indian men nearby.
The small things make the unknown beautiful
I was standing in an unknown temple with some beautiful statues happily photographing each one without a care in the world. Then, nearly stepping on his toes, I bounced back to see that an Indian man in white robes standing beside me.
I frowned, then nodded.
He did the Indian head waggle thing.
I did my semi head waggle to the side.
Then he moved on to a very elaborate statue of Ganesha and pointed to it for a photo.
The man broke into larger smile. He didn’t want to see the photo, he was just happy I’d taken a photograph of it.
Simple things like that make me happy
One moody Austrian
Eric had by now eaten a full meal of rice and dhal with some local workers at the temple.
While Florian was red-faced, sweating on the temple steps, and no longer talking to us it seemed.
I guess her book had run out of interesting things to read. We suggested she write to the book’s publisher and tell them about this Hindu temple, but it was to no avail.
It looked like Florian had marked out a series of new must see places from her book.
Eric winced as I made an excuse to head back to my guesthouse, alone.
The quite life in Penang comes to an end
Life in Penang had been good for a while. There was me, Georgetown’s beautiful colonial streets, some great food and the odd day trip like todays.
True, my guest house had walls made from what looked like cardboard. And yes, sometimes I really got too much of an earful of what my neighbors were up to. But, I had headphones and loud music, so was never too pushed.
All this was about to change.
Fresh from an afternoon shower I noticed giant dirty footprints running along the corridor. It’s a “keep your shoes on” guesthouse, why or what could possibly be running around barefoot?
Invasion of the hippies in Penang
My answer came downstairs at the cafe. A table of barefooted, deadlocked and thoroughly unwashed backpacking hippies had taken up residence here.
I stood there in mild shock. Though I’d seen the odd hippie in Georgetown, most stayed near the pubs and bar hostel type places.
Living true to their new age lifestyle … from a few decades ago.
I should have guessed one of them would stumble upon my cheaper than cheap refuge.
Visa runs from Thailand
It seemed like the hippies were down from some beach hangout in Southern Thailand to renew their visas.
My theory that India and Thailand had designated hippie breeding centers was looking more real every day.
In Nepal they would come up from India in bus loads. Now in Malaysia, they come down in bus loads from Thailand.
Maybe it’s a trans-migratory hippie breeding season type thing or something?
Penang’s streets now seemed to have a pair of threadbare backpacking hippies on every corner.
Time for my own solo migration
I sat in Mustafa’s watching the odd hippie walk by. I smiled as I wrote to a friend of mine about the “Hippie Invasion”.
Not to worry, soon when they’ve fried their brains with all manner of cheap concoctions. Blackened their lungs with an array of smoking substances.
Run out of thread to patch up their baggy pants.
Gone to the extremes of skeletal diarrhea, or simply caught some sort of communal fungal infection, the inevitable happens:
They shower, they cut their hair, they locate their gap year clothing, they go home to mom’s cooking and become tomorrows bank managers and corporate leaders.
So yes, it is indeed; time for me to leave West Malaysia …
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