For a moment, I thought it was my friend Emily Lowe. The Ipoh journalist and Ipoh-centric blogger is also the webmaster of the Nine Empeor Gods’ Kew Ong Tai Tay Temple in Ipoh.
Jeez! What are the requirements for a webmaster these days? As it turned out, it wasn’t Emily for she is fearful of a pin prick.
Funny thing is that I was playing with her metal spike laid out on a table earlier. Surprised they didn’t do any form of sterilization except to pour liberal doses of cold water when the spikes, knives and spears are inserted into the cheek. Anybody knows why cold water is used, except maybe to numb the skin?
The original Ampang Temple is like a modern day Mega Church. Apart from donations and other forms of temple tax, everything from parking to hawker space is monetized.
I have been writing about this unusual mix of religion and commerce for years. Their mega success in becoming a mega cash cow inspired many similarly-themed temples in many other towns and areas.
Think of the original temple as the popular Line Clear and Nasi Vanggey nasi kandar restauants. They spawned many unofficial and unsanctioned outlets elsewhere, all hoping to cash in.
It is not an easy act to follow though. The Ampang temple plough back some of their revenue into charitable acts such as a public kidney dialysis centre, old folk homes and donations to schools.
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 2500, f4, 1/80 sec.