The temple itself is lovely with walls covered with ornate carvings and paintings. I spent over an hour reading the displays and exploring all around. Its a popular attraction with a steady stream of tourists coming through and children running around. Not like other more serene temples I'd visited.
Day 2 was transfer day from Georgetown to Batu Feriringi (or BF). Through the hotel, I organised a driver to do some sightseeing along the way before being dropped off in BF. First stopped I planned was Penang Hill. As it was Merdeka day, it was crowded with 1000s of visitors. My driver suggested we came back later to see if the crowds subside. So we headed to Kek Lok Si. Leaving me at the top of the rise in front of the huge Kuan Yin statue, my told me where to meet him and drove away. I spent a lot of time enjoying the surroundings.
I loved the little funicular from the top temple and gardens down to the main temple (with the massive shop with 100s of items on offer...). In the main temple area, there was the "Pagoda of ten-thousand Buddhas", a seven story handcrafted pagoda. I climbed the narrow stairs, around and around the various levels, each with a shrine and balcony to look out, to the very top for the view. From the top, you could look down into the remaining temple area and gardens and over to Tanjung Bunga and Gurney Drive with high-rises lining the beaches.
I also visited Wat Chayamangkalaram (reclining Buddha) and Dharmikarama Burmese temple that are across the road from each other and both free (though I always make donations). Very few other visitors were there with me, so I enjoyed some peace and paid my respects. The reclining Buddha is said to be one of the largest in the world at 33 meters in length. Ringing the huge Buddha are many other Buddhas in varying mudras.
The Burmese temple had much more to see and I spent time exploring the grounds and various shrines. Some monks were offering blessings in the main temple. I approached with a "mingalabar", which they were surpirsed to hear (it being the usual greeting in Myanmar). I had a quick chat to one who knew a few words in English. In a side shrine near the entrance is a magnificant standing Buddha, that reminded me of the huge Buddhas I'd seen in Bagan, Myanmar. At the rear was a huge bell tower with three levels of shrines and carvings. A lovely view met me at the top. This temple felt like a small piece of Myanmar right in the heart of Penang.
By mid afternoon, I was in Batu Ferringi and refreshed before a short walk along the beach. It's crowded with people and full of boats, parasailers, jetskiis and other water sports - not somewhere where you'd want to sit and relax. The beach itself isn't that great either. So I returned to the hotel (Holiday Inn) for a swim and drink.
My last night, I ate at one of the hawker stalls and had an excellent stir fried noodle dish with a beer that was very tasty. I took one last look through the street market, buying a lovely little pewter lamp, before returning to my room to pack and prepare for my long trip home.