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.
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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.
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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.