Jun 032011

My original Monday plan was to rent a motorbike and ride around the whole of Penang island (outside Georgetown itself), but as work emails and route-planning took far longer than expected, I decided to knock off a few remaining local sights and save the ride for tomorrow.

First up was a tour of Cheong Fatt Tze’s mansion – the favorite residence of one of China’s most famous rags-to-riches success stories.

Having been born to a poor Hakka family in 1840, by the time of his death at the ripe old age of 76, Cheong Tze Fatt had managed to amass unparalleled wealth, fame, and political influence (including government titles in three different countries). The tour itself was so-so, but required if you want to go inside.

From here I looked up Wat Buppharam on Google Maps and began a 4km walk that turned out to be nothing more than an incorrect maps listing. Doh!

At least the walk itself was entertaining though; I spent nearly the whole time on a video Skype call with my mom over the 3G network, showing her around the city in realtime.

Modern technology is amazing.

Eventually I did find my way to Wat Buppharam, where I relaxed my feet for a bit before engaging in the activity for which it is famous:

Lifting a small statue of Buddha, which answers your questions in weight. If it’s light the answer is yes, and if it’s heavy the answer is no. My answer was no. Too bad I didn’t ask, “is it simple to see how this trick works?” πŸ˜›

Next I was planning to head back to town and do the second LP walking tour (Chinatown),

But a friendly local told me instead about two other nearby temples that are well worth a visit.

So I continued my temple-hopping day, stopping for some fresh watermelon juice and rojak, one of the few “can’t miss” Penang dishes still remaining on my menu.

The two temples were Wat Chaiyamangalaran and Dhammikarama, spectacularly colored Thai and Burmese Buddhist complexes directly across the street from one another.

Then, thoroughly exhausted from miles of walking, I headed home via the nice waterfront path just North of where I’d finished.

What I really wanted to do was pop in for a quick nap and cram a few more sights in before evening, but unfortunately I yet again got caught up online. Surprise, surprise – no matter what I try I can’t get the emails to stop :roll:

So I instead finished my day with just a quick walk to Little India for dinner, and that was about it.

Note: These posts are behind realtime; the above narrative took place on Monday, January 17th.

  15 Responses to “Temples and Mansions”

  1. So what *did* rojak taste like?

  2. Honestly, I can’t remember exactly (>5 months ago!). I just know that when I ate it, it was very different from what the LP had described.

  3. haha,……good or bad taste?

  4. So-so? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t really rojak tho, it was just too different from what it said in the guidebook πŸ˜›

  5. Pic 3: No, I don’t think you can use dichotomy like that. πŸ˜›
    Such colorful temples.

    How does the weight of Buddha change for every visitor?

  6. >>I don’t think you can use dichotomy like that

    Can’t I? The definition is “a division or contrast between two things that are opposed or entirely different” – which is pretty much what I was trying to say…

    >>How does the weight of Buddha change for every visitor?

    By magic. Or my guess: a powerful electromagnet under the table where a guy sitting in the next room can control if it’ll hold the statue down or not πŸ˜›

  7. Something’s missing, but I can’t place my finger on it. Can we have an English major clear this up? haha. Maybe if you had said a visual dichotomy, because the religions themselves are not a dichotomy. They need to be opposed forces, not simply “entirely different”. Otherwise an apple sitting next to an orange could be a dichotomy as well.

    But anyway, here’s a video of a magnet: http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2011/12/dropping-a-magnet-through-a-copper-pipe.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+makezineonline+%28MAKE%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

  8. I believe Nick should step in and help us settle this.

    Haha that guy is WAY too amused by his little experiment πŸ˜›

  9. I believe there is no magnetism involved. Since the magnetic force gets weaker by the square of the distance, you’d feel it really well. Unless of course they had a nuclear powered massive one under the floorboards. In that case even the metal in your shoes could make it feel like you were walking on Jupiter πŸ˜›

    Without knowing, I’d guess the answer is as simple as psychology. I bet you were not allowed to try it several times in a row and that it weighed differently…?

  10. Actually, when it answered “no” it was fixed to the table so heavily that I couldn’t lift it *at all*. Which is one of the main reasons I guessed there was a huge electromagnet under there, pinning it down to the table – toggle it off and it lifts easily, toggle it on and it won’t budge. It’s not a subtle difference. It’s more like “liftable or unliftable.”

  11. Ah, I see. In that case you’re probably right. You should have watched your temple guide’s hands and feet, to see whether he was touching any switches or levers πŸ™‚

  12. There was one monk covered in robes sitting in a decorative chair just outside the room (with a view inside). Would be VERY easy for him to conceal a tiny remote in his hand…

  13. …or perhaps it was in fact the real deal… πŸ˜›

  14. A magical statue that reads your mind, knows the answer to every question, and adjusts the laws of physics according to the answer. Yep, could be! πŸ˜†

  15. …that’s why it’s called *magic* πŸ˜›

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