It was a very beautiful day in Penang. The sky was a clear blue and fluffy white clouds hung in clusters. The smell of spring was here and I could not wait to go and explore Penang. This time, I brought along Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Little Bear with me.
We borrowed a car from a bear relative. With the help of Goggle Map, we started our journey from the lovely hotel. Along the way from the hotel to Kek Lok Si, we passed by some shops. Everything was perfect until we were near Kek Lok Si. Apparently Sunday morning market was opened that day along the street at the foot of Kek Lok Si.
All cars slowed to a crawl when we turned into this street that was packed with people. Many makeshift stalls lined up on both sides of this street. I saw a lot of shoppers walking, holding shopping bags with grocery and food. Walking from one store to another to look for things they wanted to buy. Butchers, fishmongers, vegetables sellers, fruits sellers and hawkers were everywhere. Some were busy serving customers while others were staring at a distance, seemingly unperturbed by the absence of customers. The bargain hunters however were busy choosing fresh produce and bargaining with the sellers.
After our car crawled through the packed market, we finally saw the road sign of Kek Lok Si. My mind was whirling with excitement. From here, the car brought us to the winding road towards our destination.
After driving for 30 minutes and paying RM3 for parking fee, we were finally here at the Kek Lok Si. We climbed out of the car seat, totally exhilarated. But right at this moment, Little Bear muttered something. We all turned towards her and realised Little Bear’s face was as pale as a sheet. Seconds later, Little Bear barely held up a bag before emptying the contents of Little Bear’s stomach in racking, violent heaves. Dumbfounded, Papa Bear and I stood rooted to the spot. Mama Bear went to Little Bear in lightning speed and soothed Little Bear’s back with her hand to provide comfort. Apparently, the winding road leading to Kek Lok Si had triggered Little Bear’s motion sickness. A few minutes after emptying the stomach, Little Bear was herself again.
Kek Lok Si is built on 30 acres of land. It has several prayer halls, statues of buddha, pavilions, fish ponds, gardens, bell tower and souvenir shops. The pagoda and the other buildings are decorated with colourful woodworks, pillars and lanterns. Because the prayer halls and pagodas are built on hill sides, so there are two Sky Lifts to take pilgrims and visitors up or down the hill (with chargeable fees of RM6 for adult and RM3 for child, return trip).
There is the world tallest Goddess of Mercy (Guan Yin) statue, standing at 30.2 meters, sheltered by a pavilion measuring 60.9 meters. Then there is a seven-storey Pagoda of Rama VI, also known as Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas, that encompasses Chinese, Thai and Burmese architectural structure.
Our car was parked at the foot of the tallest Goddess of Mercy statue in the world. From the there, the statue was so huge it looked like a giant. I was in awe! The Goddess of Mercy looked serene and peaceful, looking at the statue gave me a sense of calm and peace. It seemed that they were trying to do some renovation as there was a tall ladder structure at the side of the pavilion that sheltered the statue. Visitors and worshippers had been thronging the stairs to see the Goddess of Mercy in up close and paid respects in the form of burning incense and candles.
Next stop, we took a walk towards the prayer hall nearby. Along the way, I spotted some cute little stone craved panda, monkey and even a Minnie Mouse look-alike. Red lanterns with wishes written on papers were hung above the walkway. At the entrance of the prayer hall, a ribbon wishing tree was on displayed, together with pre-written-wishes ribbons arranged orderly, displayed on the table next to the wishing tree. Here, I decided to get a wishing ribbon for myself- wish for safety and health – to hang on the tree. And completed it by donating a small token into the box nearby.
Some big and small orange pineapple-like jars of candles were on the table. Those were for pilgrims to offer to the gods for good wishes. Before entering the prayer hall, we had to remove our shoes and no photograph allowed inside the hall. I saw people kneeling on cushions to pray, holding incense while bowing to the gods and also visitors just wanted to appreciate the beauty of the hall.
Taking a stroll towards a garden and we stumbled upon a beautiful fish pond. The colourful Koi fish swimming leisurely, like they had the time of the day to do what they liked. We saw someone feeding the fish with fish food. Once the man threw the fish food at them, the leisurely fish swam quickly like Olympic swimming campions to get as much food as possible. I wondered where that man gotten the fish food from. Little Bear pointed out that the souvenir shop next to the pond sold fish food.
To my surprise, there were a few ducks in the pond too. I was so excited I quickly whipped out my camera and zoomed in to take some instagram-worthy photos. But my excitement was short-lived as Mama Bear pointed out that they were dummies instead of the real deal. Oh… bummer!
Next to the garden was a souvenir shop. Inside the shop was where we could take the SkyLift to the Pagoda Rama VI. You must be asking:” What is SkyLift?” Don’t fret. It looked like an lift/elevator, with air-conditioning and buttons like a typical lift/elevator but it was slanting instead of vertical. Take a look at this photo here.
Cool isn’t it?
After we went downhill using the Sky Lift, we reached another souvenir shop. So many things inside the shop like ceramic cups, buddha statues, flowers, dummy fish, miniature animals, tea pots etc. But no time for shopping! Time for exploring.
Another prayer hall was next to the souvenir shop. This one was bigger than the last one we saw. This one had a few big golden incense burners at the entrance of the prayer hall, red and yellow lanterns dangling down from the ceiling, worshippers holding incense and praying, colourful wishing tree at the side and many visitors flocking in and out of the prayer hall.
Next was another garden with a small pagoda. The garden was surrounded by life-size Buddha statues standing at the four walls. Each was a replicate of another and they provided a stunning visual effect.
There was a flight of stairs leading to The Pagoda. Some took selfies and wefies while climbing the stairs. However, this stairs did not lead to The Pagoda itself as the side gate was locked and access was allowed. So we had to go back and find another route, that is, to go through the congested walkway.
Finally we reached The Pagoda Rama VI. I was thrilled to see The Pagoda garden lined with big yellow and red lanterns. A small hut that house the big bell was next to The Pagoda. Sound of the big bell ringing in the air when some worshippers took turns to struck the bell.
We laboured up the the winding and narrow stairs inside The Pagoda. Every level, we would see the walls were tiled with golden buddhas and a big buddha statue with cushions in front of it. Besides that, we could also see the Penang scenery from The Pagoda. The higher we climbed The Pagoda, the more breathtaking the view was. There were seven floors in The Pagoda. However, Mama Bear only manage to climb up to the fourth floor before calling it quit. So only Papa Bear, Little Bear and I continue our climb to the top floor of The Pagoda.
After taking the winding stairs down from the top of The Pagoda, we backtracked from where we came from. Taking the SkyLift again to the Goddess of Mercy, we strolled along the garden before leaving Kek Lok Si. At the garden, we spotted the twelve Chinese zodiac animal statues and decided to take some photos before leaving.
Finally we made our way to the car and left Kek Lok Si. I sighed contently, thinking of the beautiful morning with a wonderful trip it was.
Tips : If anyone has motion sickness, please prepare vomit bags because you may need them. Parking is limited at the top of Kek Lok Si, so be early or you have to park at the foot of Kek Lok Si. Wear a pair of comfortable shoes as you may be walking and climbing stairs.