Penang



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Penang
Kek Lok Si Temple (Temple of Paradise) is one of the finest and largest Buddhist temples in South-east Asia. Built on sprawling grounds, it stands majestically on a hill in Air Itam, and dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. The 7 tier Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas dominate the temple. This building of the temple is influenced by the architecture styles of the Thais, Burmese and Chinese.
Within it there are tortoise and fish ponds. Several praying areas where smaller statues are display, for devotees offerings to the various temple deities. The temple has added a huge statue of Kuan Yin and renovation is ongoing to maintain it as the finest around this region.

The Botanical Gardens offer peace and tranquility amidst lush green surroundings, tropical plants and the vibrant colors of Penang's flora, adorned by a waterfall and nursed by a natural stream. This 30-hectare garden was created in 1884 by the British, it was meant as a tribute to Charles Curtis, its first superintendent who collected botanical specimens from the surrounding hills - specimens which have since become significant samples in the world's major herbariums.

Its proximity to Georgetown makes it a popular haunt for joggers, hill climbers and picnickers, as well as monkey watchers and teasers alike.This garden includes more than 400 types of trees, plus a garden area with a variety of flowers. Several paths, totaling maybe two miles, circle through the trees and is a great place to spend a whole afternoon.

Probably the only temple of its kind in the world, the snake temple or Temple of the Azure Cloud was built in 1850 and dedicated to someone called Chor Soo Kong. A sanctuary for pit-vipers said to be the servants to the deity. These poisonous snakes seen coiled round the pillars, beams and potted plants within the temple are believed to be rendered harmless by the smoke of the burning incense. Just for good measure, the snakes have also been devenomed. You can have your picture taken with the snake draped around your neck for a small token sum.

Penang Hill is Malaysia's first hill station, 830meters (2730ft) above sea level. Visitors can ascend to the top by either hiking or by the funicular railway which has been operational since 1922. A cool and refreshing climate greets you at the hilltop and you can enjoy the panoramic view of the city and coastal area. On the hilltop there are picturesque bungalows, a beautiful flower garden, a bird park and a hotel for those who stay more than one day. A tea kiosk located at the hilltop offers snacks and refreshments.

During the daytime there is water sports and tennis at the larger beachfront hotels. Island excursions can be taken which include hill and jungle trekking. There are two 18-hole golf courses for golf enthusiasts. Also the weekend horse racing at the Penang Turf Club is a huge attraction.

The nightlife on the island is pretty low-key even in high season. It is centred on the hotel bars, local musicians and a number of karaoke lounges.