Kek Lok Si Temple (simplified Chinese: 极乐寺)
Kek Lok Si Temple (simplified Chinese: 极乐寺) Penang Reviews
Kek Lok Si Temple Jul 09, 2012
Kek Lok Si Temple is situated near the foothills of Penang Hill, so if you're headed towards Penang Hill, you'll surely pass this place. It's one of the most popular tourist spots for visitors to Penang, but I find it 'overly done'.
Out of so many things to see in Penang, I must say this is my least favourite place. Not because I'm not religious or whatsoever. I was actually very keen to visit this place to do some prayers, but when I did, oh well... it did not 'wow' me as much as I was expecting. The only 'wow' factor was probably the heat and all the climbing that took place.
If you take buses no. 201,202, 203 or 204 from Komtar, you'll need to pay MYR 2 to get here. There is one particular Laksa stall which seem to be the "talk of town", as well as the "talk of visitors". I however did not try as I wasn't hungry and Laksa isn't really my favourite.
At the side, there's a small lane that leads you to 2 rows of shops, one on each side. They sell souvenirs such as local T-shirts that read "I 'Heart' PG (which means Penang)", caps, local crafts and typical things you see when you're at those markets catered for tourists (if you know what I mean). As you go along the lane, you're actually going up hill.
Then you'll reach a small pagoda in a pond, where you'll see lots of tortoises hungry for food. Pay MYR 1 for some leaves or vegetables whichever way you wish to call it, and you can draw the tortoises towards you.
Go pass that and you'll have to walk up again to the worship area with many idols. I don't know if each of them represents different meaning but they all look the same to me. Along the way there will be beggars sitting at the sides of the pathway. Not a good sight at all.
After that, climb further up and you'll come to another worship area. Here you get to purchase joss sticks (costs probably minimum MYR 4) and some offerings for your prayers. There are also "wishing ribbons" at MYR 1 each. If you're there at the right time, you'll get to see some monks doing chanting too.
If you take the right turn from here, you'll have to pay MYR 2 to gain access to the Pagoda. I must say I don't see the logic of paying MYR 2 and yet have to do all the difficult climbing for probably 6-7 floors, with very small steps. It'll probably be easy to climb if you have feet like a child's. Otherwise, be prepared to climb side ways. I don't like the climbing at all! And not that it has much to see anyway!
Coming back down to the area where you get the joss sticks and wishing ribbons, you now take the left turning and you will come to a souvenir shop, air conditioned - thank God! (or should I say thank Buddha/Guan Yin?) Go towards the end of the shop and there's a counter to purchase tickets to take the lift up to the huge Guan Yin Idol. Now I can't remember if it was MYR 4 for both ways (to go up and return) or MYR 8 for both ways, but I think it is the latter. Once up, you'll be amazed how huge the Idol is and it's great to take photographs here. It's also very windy. But you don't really need to spend a long time here.
The whole time I was there, I was actually counting down to complete the 'whole tour' and get back to the foothills. With all the climbings, it's not user friendly especially for the elderly as well as those who are less mobile, unless you have a car to bring you all the way to the top. I asked a local Chinese the reason for such a design, and was told that the Chinese believe that if you want to wish for something, you have to show sincerity - by climbing. And "Feng Shui" does play a role here as well. The higher the better.
If you're planning a trip there, it'll be best if you go during the month of Chinese New Year. The place will be brightly lit until late at night. Otherwise, it will be close by 6pm.
My last words... be prepared to CLIMB CLIMB CLIMB and CLIMB!
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A temple in the making Apr 30, 2011
Most visitors approach the temple as they ascend a stairway, roofs of which provide shelter to a multitude of shops selling souvenirs and other - mostly secular - commodities. They pass by a so-called Liberation Pond, following the buddhist tradition of merit-making, turtles may be released into freedom, albeit a limited one.