Posted by Amanda
We called up Rachel and headed off the ship this morning to hit the snake temple. Our first task was finding a cab. There are lots of aggressive drivers waiting for us at the dock. It is like a swarm of flies to get passed them. Once you swat one out of the way, another one is buzzing at you. On the first day I asked one where the nearest ATM was. He wanted to drive us to one saying it was too far to walk. I didn't believe him and for good reason as one was about a block away. Anyway, we stopped at one guy. He wanted us to hire him by the hour but we convinced him to just take us to the snake temple. His first price was way too high. I ended up telling him that it cost us less to get back from the airport which was a set price than what he suggested and the airport was further away. He agreed to come down a bit, but it was still expensive. Well, by expensive, I mean that it was 35 ringgots which is about 11 dollars total then divided by 3 passengers. Sadly, his cab would not start. He finally had us get in someone else's cab. That driver then got out and helped him push start his cab. We then got back into the first cab. Finally we were on our way. Thankfully, even though he couldn't get his window up the entire way, he was able to get the AC going.
The snake temple was a bit of a let down. It is a Buddhist temple where snakes are worshipped. I had imagined there would be snakes everywhere. They told us that when you walk in the snake handlers try putting snakes on you to sell you a picture. There was none of that. Instead, near the back of the temple there were about three snakes. Now, they were pit vipers that are supposed to be drowsy from the incense.
The room next door was where you could have snakes put on you for a photo but they didn't do it unless you were committed to buying the photo. If you said yes, they put a big one around your neck and about three smaller ones on your head. All three of us passed. We did run into a few SAS people who recommended we pay the 5 ringgots to go into the snake education area. They recommended this not because of the snakes but because there were monkeys there that you can play with.
This was by far the best part. This temple should be called You Can Play with Monkeys Temple. They had three monkeys there that were leashed. After seeing the teeth on the monkeys yesterday at Batu Caves, we were all a bit scared, but we were told these were very nice and didn't have the crazy fangs we saw yesterday. It took us a bit of getting used to the monkeys. The first few times they jumped up on our laps we did flinch away. By the end, I was ready to take one home. They were so cute with their little monkey hands and monkey face. I liked to give them the tree flowers as they enjoyed eating those. They were insanely cute. When we finished Noah hoped we hadn't gotten lice. Way to bring us down, Noah.
Our cab driver waited for us as he said we wouldn't be able to find a cab back. We decided to ask him to take us one other place and Noah worked out the hourly rate for 3 hours. He was a good guy and did point things out to us but after India we were so fearful that that jovial behavior would result in a higher price in the end. It didn't.
Our next stop was another Buddhist temple that was huge. The Kek Lok Si Temple is at the edge of Penang Hill so it has lovely views of the city below. There is a large pagoda there that has a Chinese base, a Thai middle, and a Burmese top. They were actually still adding parts to the temple. They had recently added a huge statue of the Goddess of Mercy and were now building large columns around her to hold a roof as well as 2000 2 meter high versions of the same statue. We didn't see everything there because we were hungry and felt like we had had enough temples for the morning. It was odd to see swastikas everywhere in the temple. They really are ruined for westerners. With all of the lovely lanterns and lights around, I imagine this temple is gorgeous at night.
Our cab driver brought us back to Little India. As we walked around Georgetown, I was struck by how much it seemed to feel like a beach town in the off season. A lot of shops were closed and the streets were pretty empty. We hardly even saw any SASers around. We are a bit sandwiched in between two holidays--Mohammad's birthday on Thursday and Easter on Sunday--but it seemed really quiet even so.
We had a great Indian lunch right away. We all got to try the lassi that we were afraid to try in India. It is a yogurt drink that tastes a lot like an orange julius.
We walked around Little India taking in the mosques and temples we saw. Like Singapore it had that amazing phenomenon where on the same street you see a Hindu temple, a Buddhist temple, and a mosque. Of course I wanted to find some more sarees but Rachel wasn't as interested in shopping for them as I was.
Rachel was a bit tired so we walked her back to the ship and then we headed back to Little India and Chinatown. By this point it was raining pretty steadily. It felt great as it was so hot. We walked around some more and by 7pm headed back to the ship for an early night.