Penang is rich with religious shrines and temples of all kinds, in addition to Kek Lok Si which I wrote about last time. There are two really neat temples within walking distance of our condo. They are conveniently located right across the street from each other. I took Mom and Dad over to see them one morning on their visit.
The first we visited is Wat Chaiya Mangalaram Thai Buddhist Temple. This temple was built in 1845 on a piece of land given by Queen Victoria to boost trading relations with Thailand.
This temple is known for it’s reclining Buddha Statue. It is the 3rd largest of it’s kind measuring 33 meters in length.
This temple is also used as a burial site for devotees. There are several spots to place ashes of loved ones, many are directly behind the reclining Buddha Statue.
There are several other shrines and statues to look at on the grounds of this temple.
Directly across the street from the Thai Temple is the Dhammi Karama Burmese Temple. This was the first Burmese monastery in Malaysia. It was built in 1803.
This temple is a bit different than the Thai temple across the street. It features more gardens and water features. There are more places one can find to sit quietly and have some meditations. There are also more monks visibly in residence here. The main feature of this temple is the bell town in which you can climb to the top of and get some pretty nice views of the surrounding area.
In this picture I would like you to notice the construction of a new condo building in the background. This what living in Penang is like summed up in one shot. The old and new right on top of each other. People trying to fit new modern buildings and conveniences but keep the old traditions alive. Temples with monks that take a vow of poverty within walking distances of expensive condos and stores like Chanel. Wet markets and grocery stores within short distances of each other. There is contraindication here on so many levels. This is a complex and intriguing culture, one that I am glad I will get to know even more of.
We have reached the 6 month mark in our stay here in Penang. I am not sure this place will ever feel like home, no I take that back, I am pretty sure it won’t and that’s okay. There are people, dogs and places that I miss too much for it ever to really be home. It is not nearly as overwhelming as it once was. We have figured a lot of things out which lessens frustrations to a point. There are things that are still frustrating even though they are not surprises anymore. There are of course good and bad days here. Sometimes I am so homesick I would pack up and leave right that minute. There is a real isolation from family and friends not being able to pick up the phone and call because it is the middle of the night, and only 2 in the afternoon here. That can be really hard, and something you don’t really get used to. That being said I would not give up this experience for the world. We as a family have gained knowledge and perspective of the world that only living abroad can give you. We have become more aware of other cultures and religions in a way that is just not possible living the bible belt. We have gained more time with one another, which has no limit on it’s value. We already had a desire for travel that is just growing and becoming a real priority for our family. The single most important thing we have gained as a family unit is gratitude. Gratitude for each other, gratitude for what we have, as we are incredibly fortunate. Gratitude for America, even tough I am really, really glad I am watching this horrifying election cycle from afar. I am certain that when we return to the states in we will return with a different set of priorities and I hope a real drive to contribute to our community on a fundamental level. Also that 6 hour drive between Austin and OKC is going to seem like nothing now.