An Intense Spiritual Experience

The Saint Anne’s Feast is a very unique cultural experience. Although it is a Catholic event, you are likely to see Hindus, Taoists, Buddhists, Protestants, atheists, Vietnamese and people of various faith or non faith from Penang attending. I asked them and many said it was about receiving blessings and also they like to be immersed in the spiritual side of the rituals. On another year, I saw a Muslim girl in tudung who stood out and I asked her too. She said she was the Chief Minister’s photographer and was there early to snap her boss’s arrival.

Indeed, it was a very intense experience to be sandwiched and pushed along by the crowd moving up the steps with lighted candles. For me, it was also about waiting for the moment when twilight balanced nicely with the church founded in 1846. Cameras in 2004 weren’t as sensitive as today and I was nervous about the fading sky and changing disco colours lighting up the building.

#stanne #feast #bukitmertajam #penang #catholic #church #dusk #twilight #sunset #event #mycenhotels

Give Thanks

Give Thanks.

I think it was 2004 and there were thousands of pilgrims at the holy site. I spoke to an anonymous Christian man from the Borneo state of Sabah. He told me he was grateful to one man, besides God. Taken aback, while standing next to a grotto, I asked him who? He said it was the owner and founder of budget airline AirAsia who allowed him and his family to make a pilgrimage from Sabah for the first time, for which it will otherwise be unaffordable to him, as in previously. The honest and simple man told me he is illiterate and didn’t know how to convey his appreciation to the correct person. By God’s will. he picked me out from the sea of crowd and came to the right person.

I conveyed what he said To Sir Tony Fernandes via Twitter @tonyfernandes immediately and Tony was quite pleased.

Remember to book or find your hotel at MyCen Hotels by searching for Penang or Bukit Mertajam from my site at http://www.mycen.my/
Picture of pilgrims congregating on the steps of the shrine in 2016.

St. Anne Church Of Bukit Mertajam, Penang on Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/St.AnneChurchBM/>
MyCen Hotels on Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/mycenhotels/>
Tony Fernandes on Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/tonyfernandes/>

#stanne #feast #bukitmertajam #penang #catholic #church #event #sabah #sabahan #airasia #mycenhotels

Pretty and Petite

I met these two strangers at St Anne’s church in Bukit Mertajam in 2004, I think. I wrote in a blog post captions as reproduced below. Fortunately, I always send by mail for Instagram posting and over the years, every post was archived in Gmail, including the attached pics.

“I thought these two petite lasses looked quite pretty with the warm sunset setting behind their tinted hair. So I asked the strangers if I could take a picture of them. Cousins Leow <@leowyh> (left) and Chin (right) <@mellisa_phei> graciously agreed. They are from Penang Island and were at the St Anne’s Church doing selfies as tourists. When I told them I might post their pic on Instagram, they launched their app and followed me on the spot. I did likewise. Haha. Geeks don’t exchange phone numbers”

I followed them on social media over the years and saw them grow. I hated Leow’s love affair with Snapchat filters and Boomerang antics but like Mellisa;s record of going to university in Taiwan. It was was like watching her lifestory unfolding. Leow is now @leow_bbbbb and Mellisa is at @mchinlife on Instagram,

The Feast of St Anne is on 21st July to 30th July this year at the St Anne Sanctuary in Bukit Mertajam. I usually stay in Penang island as the hotels in Bukit Mertajam were usually fully booked. Not unexpected when there are millions of pilgrims from the region. Facebook of St Anne’s Sanctuary BM 大山脚圣安纳堂

Book or find your hotel at MyCen Hotels http://www.mycen.my/ by searching for Penang or Bukit Mertajam from my site.

Rooms may already be tough to find from today, Not unexpected as the celebrations attract millions of pilgrims from the region. Next, I’ll post some pictures of the church from 2004, 2008. 2014 and 2016

#stanne #feast #bukitmertajam #penang #catholic #church #event

The U Hotel Penang

When I was last in Penang, I stayed at the area known as Bayan Lepas at the U Hotel. It is a budget boutique hotel in a relatively peaceful and unknown part of Penang. Even Penang island friends don’t know where it is. They know the exact area when you mention Tesco Extra Sungai Dua though, which is just behind the blue hotel.

Address: 676, Jalan Sungai Dua, Taman Pekaka, 11700 George Town, Pulau Pinang.

I know there is a U in Blue – I like blue. But what is the U in its name then? It is explained vaguely in their web site as “Urban. Unpretentious. Utterly Unique”. Sounds Like Utter Marketing Speak Bullshit to me. Undisguised 🙂

It is also near the campus of University of Science, Malaysia or USM in Gelugor. I don’t like that its car park is at the back and very dark at night, Same shit as Tune Georgetown  Penang Hotel that I stayed previously and liked. I wanted a fairly cheap hotel as I needed a hotel for several nights to attend the annual St Anne’s Feast in the mainland town of Bukit Mertajam.

Getting on and off either Penang bridges was quite easy due to its location. I also like that the hotel is near food places and many food courts. For its price, it is comfortable, serviceable and functional for someone like me who spends 18 hours outside. Not cheap at about RM150 a night though.

Better book in advance if you are going to St Anne’s in July. See also Hotels in Penang at http://www.mycen.my/hotels-in-penang/

Check a room availability and book the U Hotel Penang.

Find around 700 hotels in Penang here.

Land Of The Giants

My petite Panasonic GM-1 is dwarfed by a giant leaf in an isolated and remote rain forest trail. I was on my way to the unknown Sungai Sendat Waterfalls located in the Batang Kali Forest Reserve. In the land of giant leaves and trees, the Lilliputian GM-1 camera belies its sophistication.

It is a very capable m43 mirrorless system camera. Serving as my backup and secondary camera.

My love and fascination for giant jungle leaves started when I was a kid spending my school holidays up in Cameron Highlands. My uncle worked at the power station there and he would stop his car for me to marvel at giant fallen leaves strewn by the roadside. For a young boy, everything was gigantic in Cameron Highlands, from giant trees, giant leaves, massive waterfalls, very wide Rajah Brooke birdwing butterflies to enormous rhinoceros beetles.

Penang Peranakan Mansion museum director and author, Lillian Tong, is seen here using a giant leaf as umbrella or shade. Picture copyright Lilian Tong and used with her permission. I will feature some of her dressed up pics in future.

The gorgeous Peranakan (nyonya) culture expert from Penang is normally prim and proper in stunning kebayas. You can read more of her expertise at her Naughty Nyonya blog http://naughtynyonya.blogspot.my/ She was in a jungle trek in Teluk Bahang near Batu Ferringhi and Monkey Beach of the Penang National Park. She went for “jungle bathing” – a new hipster fad or trend, I think.

The giant leaves are disappearing like old culture and is getting harder to see with the depletion of primary jungles.

Love for the environment and nature ought to be inculcated from young.

Happy Earth Day.

See over 132 hotels in Cameron Highlands here. In Ringlet, Brinchang and Tanah Rata. Availability may depend on your booking dates.

#earthday #jungle #rainforest #nyonya #penang #selangor #pahang #cameronhighlands