Cheng Kon Sze, Air Itam – A Different Way to Explore Penang

This is an unusual post and is not about food, instead it is an adventurous and historical write up. During the first nine days of the 9th Lunar month, certain places in South East Asia celebrate the Nine Emperor Gods Festival. During this period, devotees will have to going through a vegetarian diet for 10 days, 3 days or 1 day depending on the vow made. One of the 9 Emperor Gods’ temples is located on a hill of Penang Island and the name of the hill is called “1002 stairs” (千二层). The name of the temple is known as “Cheng Kon Sze” (清观寺).


To reach the temple, other than hiking another method is driving. Those who prefer to take the car can board the vans and MPVs at the foot of the hill which will take you right up to the temple at a cost. For those who would like to challenge themselves in a healthy way, hiking up is one of the best ways to workout and inhale fresh air. During the hike, you can feel the soft gentle breeze brushing through you face and cooling down your body.


Part of the hiking trail is via the muddy road. The mud trail of foot prints shows the path that had been used by devotees to hike up to the temple. The sound of the crickets chirping with surrounding symphony and the morning dews that dripping to the edge of the tender buds. Despite the physical tiredness from hiking, experiencing the beauty of nature makes your soul peaceful, calm and relaxing.


Just a distance away before reaching the destination, you already can smell the essence of joss sticks. During this period of time, you can see devotees coming from all over the places just to pray and perform their vows.


“Cheng Kon Sze” (清观寺) is one of the oldest temple in Penang and back in the olden days this temple is a place for Taoist priests to practice their teaching here. However, now this place is just a place for devotees to pray and make their vows. The figure of the master priest of this place has been carved into a statue sitting on a tiger. The look of the the status looks so much like the actual person. Most of the devotees recalled this temple by this status rather than the name of the temple.


The writing on the right hand side of the main temple is an ancient calligraphy that spells “dragon” in Chinese.


The name of the temple “清观寺” was written on the main entrarnce.


During the Ninth Lunar month, this place is usually packed with devotees.


A few steps down from the main temple, there is another smaller temple.


If you walk down further, you will find there are even more temples along the way.


During this special period, vegetarian food will be provided to the devotees. It is usually prepared by volunteers and donators. Devotees can donate based on their willingness and ability.


Every time when I hiked up here, I will not miss the chance to enjoy the food provided. Partially due to being hungry after the long hike, the food always tastes delicious.


For those that want to extend your endurance and stamina, you can always take the challenge to hike up further to the “Tua Pek Kong” temple. This temple will a further 300 steps up.


A “Tua Pek Kong” is place in a hut that overlooks the whole Penang Island.


Overall, if you are looking for a healthy and different lifestyle, try hiking up to this temple and you will find out how magnificent and exciting this place is.

GPS: 5.407515,100.303928

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