Penang – clashing and cuddling cultures

I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth repeating – the way this melting pot of a city comes together is quite beautiful. So many cultural backgrounds, so many religions, so many different people on the streets.

For me, in a city this small, one of the easiest places to see this is in how they pray.

The official religion is Islam (I think – don’t sue me if I get this wrong!) but interestingly there are only a few mosques inner city – we saw more as we whizzed past suburbs in taxi’s, on the search for my personal temple; H&M…

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What you mostly see in George Town are Buddhist temples. Grand scale, small scale, hidden behind gates, the heart of a community, ornate or simple… They’re found on most corners, welcoming any and all in. The smell of incense, the step over the wooden step into the concrete floored holy place – bare feet on cold ground.

To go off point for a moment, my favourite Buddhist temple is one with an open courtyard in the middle. I love the feel of cold concrete underfoot which suddenly changes to painfully hot sun drenched stone. I like that there’s more air, that there’s some sense of inside and outside – because if you’re going to believe in a god, wouldn’t it be one that exists in both places? But that’s just me…

Anyway, there were so many different temples to be a tourist inside of;

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From there you see a wonderful and smaller mix of number Christian churches and Hindu temples. I read somewhere along the way this week that there used to even be a Jewish enclave, now diminished or gone.

Penang. So much mixed up goodness.

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