11 March 2011

The Magnificent KEK LOK SI

So…. Where were we? Ohhh, the stairs up to Kok Lek Si temple. Me and Sylvia marched our way up till we reached the point where the stairs diverged to circle around a pond that was full of…

Tortoises? Yes. Tortoises. Green tortoises. I think it was exactly the same kind of tortoise that my little nephew had released to a little creek off the Tambunan-Ranau road when I offered him a big KFC meal for lunch [in exchange].
I’ve seen them in Sandakan Crocodile Farm and probably some other mini zoos before but never in such a big number like this. One thing about tortoises that amuses me a lot is the way they look at each other and at me. 
They really have the facial expressions that are so readable I can almost see if they are sad or happy or even … horny. Hehe. 

So.. Kek Lok Si really is such an amazing temple to be strolling around in. Located on the hillside of Bukit Ayer Itam (is it?), strolling inside the big compound of the temple is such an amazing – almost surreal - experience. 
With the soothing Classical Chinese instrumental reverberating across the temple as you walk in, it really gives you the feel of being in the movie set of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon or something.

I almost visualized myself dressed in a white robe as a swordsman back in the Qing Dynasty. 
Of course, being a religious place where people are expected to be humbled down in the presence of Gods and Goddesses, the Kek Lok Si temple is the prime target of quite a number of beggars. 
I didn’t know whether to feel sorry for the temple or for them. 
While I know of quite a number of temples here in Malaysia that is architecturally superb and visually mesmerizing, Kek Lok Si seems to be a few steps ahead to me
Just look at these ornate pillars here. The carvings seem so mind-bogglingly ‘specific’ when they are seen up-close that they left a question in my head even up to this day as to how they had actually been ‘carved out’ so intricately detailed like that. 
Blame it on my lack of Buddhism knowledge, I had no idea what Gods or probably Goddesses these were.
But I giggled along with Sylvia when I saw where their feet were stepping onto. It was kinda creepy and funny at the same time. I was down on the floor waiting Sylvia to stomp on me like that but she wasn’t witty enough to do just that. 
Ohh, and I wasn’t sure it this one here was suffering the pain or enjoying the pleasure. LOL!
SO……one of the things that first caught my eyes when I was down the hill and looking up at the Kek Lok Si was this.
I mean, it doesn’t really look Buddhist, does it? It looks more like Hindu. Or probably Muslim a bit when you see the openings. Or may be Christian when we look at the arching entrances at the ground floor. 
OK la. It doesn’t matter how it looks. It is still Buddhist. I’ve read somewhere that Kek Lok Si it reflects the shared values of Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism.
While we could see people sticking their heads out at the openings of the upper floors of the tower, we went almost hysterical when we couldn’t find the stairs – or even an elevator if there was one.
We were walking ‘round and ‘round and ‘round and almost unanimously decided that whoever it was up there, they must have flown up or probably jumping from a nearby building (which was impossible).
Oh well, giving up didn’t seem to be an option. We already paid like RM3 for the entrance fee and that was like a bowl of slurpy Laksa in Penang. A BOWL OF LAKSA OK?! :-_D
OK. I’m not gonna let you go through the same fate that we went through just in case you go there on a one fine day only to be ruined by the stairs. The staircase was somewhere on the inside and not anywhere on the outside. It’s somewhere in there. :-P
Ascending from one floor to another required a little bit of stamina to pump enough oxygen into your lungs so that you wouldn’t pass out somewhere in the process. One floor up and we bumped into an Indian family who was making their way down. One of the guys – probably the father – was shaking his head and muttering ‘Die Die Die’ in between his heavy breaths. He wasn’t even looking at us. o.O
I can’t recall how many stairs there were to walk up on to get to the top storey. It would have been a perfect spot to commit suicide except that the last staircase was close to public. 
STILL the view from the second top was breathtaking. The old town of George Town which was highlighted by the towering Komtar building can be seen across the distance. 
FRESH from Penang Bridge International Marathon, descending down the stairs was quite agonizing and painful and heavy. I wasn’t in the mood of doing anything like that for fun. And it wasn’t even fun – given the physical condition that I was in. 
SO… back on the ground again, there was one last part of the temple that only fools would miss out on when they are visiting Kek Lok Si. 
You have the option of taking the inclined lift or you can save the earth by walking your ass off up to the statue.
I REALLY WANTED to contribute more to the environment but my calves were begging for some break. I took the inclined lift. Or elevator. Or whatever you may call it. 
At least we had a little bit of the taste of how it was like to go up the Penang Hill. It was closed when we were there (and still is I guess). Being somewhere on top of the list, I was quite disappointed. But of course, some places are better left unvisited so that we can always come back for them in the future.
Another disappointment when we were told that the uppermost floor where the gigantic Kuan Im statue stood on was closed for some refurbishment work. 
Still, we were close enough to see the eye balls – if they were any. 
The gigantic statue is facing down to a large patio that appears more like a fenced playground for a number of pets, except that these ‘pets’ here stay frozen and still all the time. 
Even in their sculptural move-less-ness, they still look so cute and adorable. 

I would have stayed there if not for the sweltering burning sun. It was so hot I could have cooked an egg on my head. 
Finally saying goodbye to the magnificent temple of Kok Lek Si and getting back to the foothill of Ayer Hitam, there was this one particular place, or rather stall, that I wanted to stop by.

When I first saw it on AFC’s Yummy King, I told myself that I’m gonna go there and have a taste of the laksa.

And there I went. Apparently, the Singaporean multi-talented actor-cum-TV host-comedian Mr. Adrian Pang didn’t exaggerate the show – at least about this laksa here in Ayer Itam.It tasted so good it made other laksas that I had a taste of in Penang or anywhere else almost all forgettable.
I always thought that TV hosts were paid to exaggerate things. LOL!
I felt so sorry for Sylvia. She had to endure looking at my boisterous mouth-stuffing as if there was no tomorrow.   I really couldn’t help it. :-D
So – we returned to the Jetty Bus Terminal and took another bus to my last destination of my whole trip to Penang – the one and only Batu Ferringhi. Of course you know what's gonna come next. 

Yesssaaa. ALL IN NEXT POST. :-P


ken said...

reminds me of going up to the pagoda.. the height is scary :P

JIPP said...

Definitely not a place for ppl with acrophobia problem right? LOL!


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