Penang is not only the name of a state within Malaysia, but also of an island located on the north-west coast of the Malaysian peninsular. Naturally, our journey to Penang began with a ride on the ferry from the mainland town of Butterworth. Cost – about 20 pence with the return journey free!
We wouldn’t have long on the island, but there were a few things we wanted to do. First, you might be surprised to hear, was a visit to the English Cemetery. If you click on the link you will see much better photos than I managed to take, but the history is nonetheless fascinating. This walled enclosure full of tombs is shaded by huge moss-covered frangipani trees and is now sadly neglected.
We jumped on the 204 bus to the Kek Lok Si Temple, (also known as the Temple of Supreme Bliss) the largest Buddhist temple in south-east Asia, which is still an ongoing project thanks to generous Chinese benefactors (as displayed by the new statues waiting patiently in the carpark which looking like hooded hostages). The way up to the temple is not very well signed and we couldn’t find it. Fortunately, a young Chinese woman who spoke perfect English helped us and left us with an amazing present as she did so. She folded up a one Ringgit Malaysian note into two beautiful hearts …. awwww.
The temple is an amazing sight with thousands of numbered Chinese lanterns on display. The beauty of the Kek Lok Si temple is staggering and to think that this was somewhere I had never even heard of before we contemplated this trip.
Our final visit of the day was onto the pretty fast funicular railway (one of the longest in the world at 2kms) up Penang Hill for great views over the island.