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Nestled on the Paya Terubong Hills, in some quiet little spot sits a very old 130 Taoist temple called Cheng Kon Sze.

Peaceful Cheng Kon Sze Temple Penang

Junnie reaching the 1002 Steps Temple

A simple untapped temple worshiped by the silent or quiet few Taoist devout devotees. During the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, Catherine rang me to inquire whether I would be interested to go up to 1002 Steps Temple or locals called it, Cheng Ji Chan.

1002 Steps Temple Penang

Peter (half body) and Junnie (half face) and Chandra looking down,wishing he gets permission to walk more as he waited for us. Sorry guys!

What do you think, I jumped with joy as I have not yet gone up to Cheng Jee Chan or Cheng Kon Sze in my life.With Peter (pulau-pangkor.com) as our guest as he wanted to learn more about Chinese custom and traditions, he gladly tagged along.

Central Penang view from 1002 Steps

Beautiful Penang, view from 1002 Steps Temple (look how far Komtar seems to be)

For Chandra’s sake as he is recuperating from a recent heart attack, all of us took the super cool van up the temple. So Catherine, Catherine’s mum, Steffi, Chandra,Ben Khaw ( not in any pictures as he wanders off to take his own), my sister Junnie and me, the ever happy to go anywhere person and not forgetting the crazy white man from Holland ( the web master of pulau-pangkor.com) got up to Cheng Kon Sze. Just joking, he is actually funny guy!

Hilltop in Cheng Kon Sze Temple

Hill top view at the greenery and natural vegetation of Cheng Kon Sze Temple

How pleased and thrilled we were when the van driver stopped to let us take this awesome shot of Penang. It was a good drive up the Cheng Kon Sze Temple, horning loudly all the way up as if we were some important VIP. But more because the hikers were making their way up on foot.

Apple Custard or Nona in Cheng Kon Sze Temple Penang

Have you seen this fruit, apple custard or locals called them Nona?

On the way up by foot to 1002 steps temple, my dad used to tell us, never to complain. Never utter the word, “why so far” or “why still have not reached the temple”.

Multi colors cactus plant in Cheng Kon Sze Penang

We see yellow, purple, red and green flower all over this cactus plan t in Cheng Kon Sze Temple, how awesome!

 

But two ladies have no one to tell them and as they complained, they got tired and waved our van driver for help.Seeing how tired and broken these two old ladies were, all of us squeezed tighter into the van to allow both of them in. Despite having a seat, both never stop talking about how far or how tired they were. No wonder..I thought.

Baba pukul Nyonya Plant in Cheng Kon Sze

Baba pukul Nyonya Plant in Cheng Kon Sze Temple

Baba pukul Nyonya plant is a delightful plant, did you know that? It blooms in the early morning in white. By mid afternoon, it turns pink. And in the evening, it is almost purplish. Such a refreshing plant, almost magical.

Taking a breath of fresh air

The Happy Trio taking a breath of FRESH AIR! Sitting on the granite slab, such bliss!

The natural vegetation, the multiple shades of green is a feast for our sore eyes. The fruits tree, flower plants, those I see when I was young makes me feel at home and child like. Huge galangal plant are everywhere. Galangal is still around in my neighborhood but I hardly see Baba pukul Nyonya Plant anymore.

Huge Yellow Candles in Cheng Kon Sze

Catherine praying in Cheng Kon Sze Temple Penang

Reaching the temple vicinity, we were surprised to see a fair amount of devotees praying, shaking the fortune stick for health or wealth.

Huge Joos Stick in Cheng Kon Sze Temple Penang

Huge Joss Stick, a common sight in Taoist culture in Penang, Malaysia and Asia

Nice, and I look at the monk sitting on the tiger reminds me of my childhood. This priest or abbot must be Thai Siong Lok Kun, the healer or caretaker of many healer temples. There is even a road along Air Itam market place named after him.

130 year old Bronze urn in Cheng Kon Sze Temple Penang

The Bronze Urn and Huge Lantern are as old as the temple.

This is the town I grew up. My sister and me used to walk to the market from our home. I remember when we were young, we hated walking for 20 to 30 mins to the market. I do understand why there is a need for modern facilities. I only wish there will be some heritage buildings left to see. But it is going away too fast. This is the very reason I have now over 10,000 pictures. Amateur I may be, still they are my own hard work.Some locals having gone to China now understand that our own hometown Penang is far richer in heritage then China. Every street or town has a story to tell. And I have lots of story to tell as my dad and uncles told us lots when we were young.

God of Education in Cheng Kon Sze Temple Penang

Observed the statue just behind the joss stick, that is the God of Education, bowed down my humble devotees, says he

As we prayed and watched others, everyone seems so solemn and quietly talking to Nine Emperor God, Dao Mo the mother of Nine Emperor Gods . MMm..there is even the God of Education, so if you want your kids to be intellectuality inclined, come and offer prayer to this God. There are boxes of pencils. What they do is this. Take two pencils, make a prayer then next year come back to return 2 pencils too. But I saw devotees returning more, two boxes or placing cash or kind if they know they wont be returning.

One ticket of fortune Please, in Cheng Kon Sze Temple Penang

What is my fate or fortune, Uncle?

After prayers, most will seek some spiritual guidance. Tai Siong Lok Kun, according to my late father, is revered for answering or granting wishes. This one thousand and two hundred steps, supposedly should be one thousand and two steps. Not two hundred but somehow along the way, pronunciation or translation got lost.Seeking spiritual guidanceOn the table near the ticket giver, one can find a round container with fortune or fate stick. No idea what it is called, ( I dont claim I know everything, ok?) Anyway, taking that round container with stick, the devotee will bowed in front of the gods and virtually mutter for guidance. Then shaking the stick and till it jumps out, that is your answer. Take the fortune stick that jumped out to the counter.

Translation of the fortune sheet in Cheng Kon Sze Penang

The all knowing one,Translation of the fortune sheet

Take it to the corner of the temple, claim your fate sheet and look for someone who knows how to read to you. It is written in mythological mandarin so one must understand some chinese legends or myth. With that, the all knowing one will share with you in story form what is in store for you. up to you to translate the result, how about that?

Por Oon Shrine

Por Oon Shrine,(Prays for better luck or fortune from this shrine), funny though i though, letter 5 in chinese character is missing). (But as was advised, it was done purposely long time ago), FENG SHUI I suppose

But sometimes, if they felt it is not a good fate, you will be guided to pray for better fate or luck.

Blessed Meal in Cheng Kon Sze

Great fried Vermiceli, porridge and dessert. A real treat!

What a bliss, it is a small temple. We should be able to come down by half hour, right. But no we were there for a few hours, why. So much to see and while feasting our eyes of the greenery, we had a blessed meal then washed our own plates, chopstick and cups. Again Coffee is BEST!And Cheng Kon Sze Temple, we will come back and soon before someone decide to vacate you too!Remember besides Thaipusam in January or February, in October Nine Emperor Gods festival is celebrated vastly in Penang Butterworth, all of Malaysia and world wide. cheers

With the preparation for the upcoming BIG Event in Malaysia, to celebrate our Independence Day, one cannot forget our forefathers, the Chinese Coolies.

Nothing to be a shame of really. And if you really learn your family Chinese ancestry and their humble beginning, you will find out that you either belong to the Hai San or Ghee Hin secret society.

The end of Qing Dynasty, the start of Taiping Rebellion and Opium War triggered the real rush of Chinese immigration by the mid 18th century. And the real big rush came in the 19th century lured by the lucrative tin mining concessions granted by the Malays rulers. This time around, the big in flux of Chinese coolies were from Guangdong and Fujian. And the Chinese coolies were running away from China due to the fighting of the Opium War in 1840. The western power used advanced warships and artillery to force open China’s doors.

In 1853, my great great great grand father Kee Lai Huat at 19, together with his younger brother who was much younger travelled in a tongkang over to Malaya and worked as coolies in a sugar plantation.

Recently my aunt told me stories of Chor Chor Kee Lai Huat. It was amusing yet sad. When he first arrived here, and with no one to care for them, they were very sickly and weak. Chor Chor Kee Lai Huat’s brother didn’t survived the hard living and died at the age of 19, a year after he arrived in Bukit Tambun.

But Chor Chor as you know, was damn hardworking and frugal. He worked hard until he gained the trust of the Bukit Tambun sugar tycoon and even married his only daughter Khaw Bee Gek.

One particular story, aunt told me was that one day when Chor Chor was resting by the riverside, some coolies called out that the Towkay was on the way to the river.

Chor Chor felt he was caught sleeping and was going to be scolded for sleeping on his job. In his fright, he stepped over and ran across the rivers full of crocodiles. Such was his fright for the towkay. He forgot about the crocodiles in the river.

The other times was when he was sermon by the towkay (boss). He did not know why he was sermoned and was so scared that he ran away to Parit Buntar and hid himself. The people had a hard time finding him and got him back to the boss. The reason for finding him was to ask him to marry the tycoon’s daughter.

Such was the respect they have for their bosses. It amazed me how we have changed.

Khaw Bee Gek was another story to tell. It seemed the she was engaged to her first suitor who died before they could get married. So it was believed that she was (the Chinese would say), “Tua Sieow” (a person with great potentials). And she would need a match or else suitor after suitor would have bad things happening to them.

And after their marriage, the sugar tycoon gave them a gift, that is a zinc house in Sungai Bakap. It was said that every month, the sugar tycoon would send a tin of spanish coins for the daughter to use. (If you can remember the cream crackers square tins). The sugar tycoon Khaw lau Hup of Batu Kawan, was none other then the father of Ghee Hin Leader Khaw Boo Aun.

Read about the Malaysian Chinese coolies humble beginning here.

Malaysian Chinese Coolies
Our Chinese Forefathers

Read more about the roles played by the Taochiews in the 14 years Larut Wars and how actually Khaw Boo Aun was involved in blocking water to Penang resulting in the third Larut War.

The Human Horse

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