Snakes, Colonialism and Temples

Friday was our first full day in Penang in north west Malaysia. The climate was noticeably different and we were greeted by warm rain for the first time in our adventure.

We took to the streets in a minibus with an English speaking guide who pointed out the colonial influence on the city, with beautifully constructed typically grand and white architecture.

However colonialism isn’t the only influence on the city which also boasts a ‘little India’ and ‘China town’, with 60% of the cities population being from a Chinese origin. Their presence on the city is evident and we visited a number of different piers which only Chinese people with certain surnames could stop on, however there was one where any Chinese could stop on too! Red lanterns with golden tassels lined the narrow boardwalk out to the water with little stalls selling gifts on either side.

We braved the lunchtime traffic and ventured over to the only ‘Snake Temple’ in the world, which also hosts over 30 different breeds of snake in its adjoining snake sanctuary.

At the snake sanctuary we witnessed a rattle snake hiss and rattle its tail, supposedly it can rattle at 60 shakes a second! I stroked an albino snake from head to tail, so now I have good luck supposedly – happy days! A man kissed a King Cobra in a snake show, one of the venomous snakes in the world, which will kill you in 15 minutes. ‘You either choose heaven or hospital’ said the commentator, with heaven being the more likely option with the hospitals taking up to 1:30 hours to reach in traffic!

    The bus then took us to the a huge Chinese temple set on Penang Hill overlooking the city. Beth and I both wrote our names on a candle, lit it, made a wish and then placed it infront of the 16 handed God. We then placed a wish on ribbon on a tree outside the temple, writing our names on the back.

     Little India was the next stop where we picked up butter chicken, naan, drinks and a rice dish for about £4 for the two of us!


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