05 March 2011

One Mansion, One Temple, One Beach: One Penang!

IF I WERE TO BE REBORN AGAIN, I’d want to be a baba. A very rich baba.
With a big mansion with a sweeping interior fanciful enough to impress an emperor. 
There would be a big dining table spacious enough to accommodate a big spread of dishes to feed the hungry stomachs of at least a dozen my boastful friends once at a time.
Oh, if I were in the mood of getting western, there’d a room with western table settings complete with European-styled teak furniture, Victorian ceramic figures and epergnes and European glass and silverware. 
Of course, behind every rich man there is a woman.
I’d have a wife, a nyonya and I’m gonna shower her with jewelery so that she can show them off to her jealous friends.
A happy wife always has something to show off to her friends.
Ohh, and what is a woman with a rich husband without a massive collection of shoes? She’s gonna need them too. 
I’m gonna make sure that every corner of the mansion is designed in a way that reflects my opulent lifestyle. I have had enough of being poor in this current life.  (not really poor lahh..OK only.hehe)
One of the rooms would be allocated as a crib for my gambling sessions with friends. You see, too much money needs more hands to handle and I only have two. I’d be rich enough to bribe the cops so I can always be assured of uninterrupted lap lap fu sessions. 
And I’d even go high on dope – the cops wouldn’t mind at all. Money buys you know. 
OK, I’m gonna cut the crap now. It is of course the Penang Paranakan Mansion in the old town of George Town.  Offering a glimpse of Baba and Nyonya opulent lifestyle and of many of their customs and traditions, Penang Paranakan Mansion is without doubt one of the most visited buildings in Penang. 
With over 1,000 pieces of antiques and collectibles of the era on display, this Baba-Nyonya museum is also housed in one of Penang’s heritage mansion of eclectic design and architecture.
I was there on my fourth day in Penang and I was awed by the beautiful fusion of western and oriental elements that makes the mansion so uniquely and visually captivating. 
I actually first learnt about Penang Paranakan Mansion when I watched the first episode of the Amazing Race Asia Season 4 last year.
The first clue that had been given to the contenders had required them to look for a Mr. Baldwin, which turned out to be an old piano on the ground floor of the mansion.
Oh well, Penang Paranakan Mansion was my first destination on the last day of my trip to Penang.
We then headed out of George Town on a coach to a place called Ayer Hitam.
Ayer Hitam is where the famous Kek Lok Si Temple is located in. 
I’m gonna drop a bomb in the form of a fact about Kek Lok Si. With so many Buddhist temples all over South East Asia, Kek Lok Si is the largest of them all. Re-phrasing it in a more understandable piece of sentence, KeK Lok Si is the LARGEST BUDDHIST TEMPLE in South East Asia. Something to be proud of considering how it is very unlikely that they’ve got even a single cent from Mr. G to fund for its construction and all. 
Dubbed as one of the most beautiful temples in the region, everybody has every reason to come to Ayer Hitam to see for themselves the magnificent Kek Lok Si.

BUT – Ayer Hitam is not all about Kok Lek Si alone. You have probably heard about it before and you’re going to hear it from me again that Ayer Hitam is a heaven for all the foodies especially those who are into street food like me.

There are just so many food stalls along the way up to the temple although I couldn’t understand why most of them were closed when I was there. :-(
I didn’t go there alone. I was accompanied by a Sylvia – a lady from Belgium who is living an interesting life teaching English in SINGAPORE and her students consisted mostly of rich business men from Japan and Korea. She told me how she really lurvvvvv Tropical countries that she’d fall sick every time she goes back to Belgium now. Hehe.
Out of respect for her privacy, I wouldn’t post any picture of her though. She wouldn’t even take a picture of herself – not a single one. I tried to drag her into the idea of camwhoring but she kept insisting a NO. You can HOWEVER let your imagination take a descriptive picture of her by looking at this dress that she bought at one of the boutique shops in Ayer Hitam. :-P
So……. It was in Ayer Hitam that I first heard and seen VEGETARIAN MEAT. I mean, what kind of meat is vegetarian???
So, done with the, errr, vegetarian meat for lunch (it even feels weird to say it), we started our ascending journey towards the temple of Kek Lok Si. 
You can start imagining my hands gesticulating in the air as I explain this – but along the way towards the temple, there are like dozens of stalls selling just about everything that you probably need as a souvenir to your makcik-makcik or pakcik pakcik back in your hometown. 
I gotta tell you that if you want to buy anything – buy it at the Kek Lok Si. I was too late to know that.
A little bit of negotiation may earn you 6 fridge magnets for RM10 while in other places where they might give you their middle finger whenever you initiate a negotiation. 3 fridge magnets for RM10 and any bargaining is impossible – at least at the open market in Batu Feringhi that I went to later in the day. Bluekksss!
Thinking that I might get to buy things cheaper in other places (stupid me!), I marched my way past the long series of stalls...
...and somewhere along the way the stairs would split to circle around a small pool (or rather a pond) that was full of… wait…GREEN TORTOISES??

But of course, I gotta stop here. Follow me as I discovered more of the magnificent Kek Lok Si - all in the next post.:-P


Lizeewong said...

I'd like to go to Ayer Hitam one day. Heard a lot about it...btw, the fridge magnets ba, 6 for rm 10??? Punya murah! So did you get any?

ken said...

long time no go penang edy.. haha.. :D

Julie Lim said...

Weird ... and I thought Borobudur in Indonesia is the largest Buddhist temple in South East Asia, cause it's the largest in the world. This bit of information is worth finding out.

LJ said...

hola Jipp..

i'll off to Penang someday to xperience my half Nyonya.. n I'm proud to be born as half Nyonya + Dusun. (^__^)

i love ur post!

thomas said...

Another great adventure.


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