Monday, 18 November 2019

From Malacca to KL

The stay at the Hotel Rosa was all too brief because after breakfast, we had to check out from the rooms to begin our exploration of Malacca. Our first stop was the museum located in the Stadthuys which was within the heritage zone of the city. And after that, we climbed the St Paul's hill and visited the ruins of the old St Paul's cathedral.

After lunch, we were caught in a horrendous traffic congestion as the bus driver tried to navigate his way to the Malacca river cruise terminal. By the time we finished our little tour of Malacca, it was already past three o'clock, meaning that once again, we were way behind schedule.

The bus only reached Kuala Lumpur at about eight o'clock. A quick dinner, a 30-minute stop at the twin towers to allow the foreign monks a glimpse of the KLCC park and music fountain, and then we were dropped off at the Hotel Royal for another brief overnight stay. One full day gone and another one ahead of us.

The monks from the Nandaka Vihara meditation centre in Bukit Mertajam preparing themselves for breakfast at the Hotel Rosa in Malacca.


The monument dedicated to the Chinese seafarer-explorer, Cheng Ho

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Onward to Malacca

From Dengkil, we then proceeded to Malacca, about two hours behind schedule. First stop was for dinner at the Atlantic One Nyonya Restaurant and then a short 45-minute diversion to Jonker Street before we ended up at the Hotel Rosa for the night, rather tired after a whole day on the road since seven o'clock in the morning. There would still be two full days of travelling ahead of us.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Dhammavijaya meditation centre

My wife and I spent the last weekend on a jaunt through Malacca and Kuala Lumpur. In the company of several Theravadin monks and many of her friends from the Nandaka Vihara Meditation Centre in Bukit Mertajam.

You see, the Nandaka Vihara was arranging a trip to visit the Dhammavijaya Meditation Centre in Dengkil, Selangor, and the organisers thought it would be a good idea to take the monks on a sight-seeing trip to nearby Malacca and Kuala Lumpur as well.

Incidentally, the visit to the Dhammavijaya coincided with their annual kathina celebration. This year's celebration was significant as the founder of the Pa-Auk monastery in Burma, the Sayadaw Bhaddanta Acinna, was there as well. So last Saturday, we all took a chartered bus to Dengkil, spent about two hours at the Dhammavijaya.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

A rehabilitated Sia Boey

I was passing along Prangin Road this afternoon and noticed that the barricades along this main road in George Town had been removed, revealing the restored Sia Boey which has been touted as the first urban archaological park in the country.

Intrigued by what I had been reading about this place in the past months, I decided to go take a look at the place. Luckily, I was able to find a nearby place to park the car. What I saw when entering from the northern entrance was a rehabilitated Sia Boey, not as a market but as a refreshing green park in the city. There was a waterway with clear water and Japanese carp were swimming in it.

But as we now know, this wasn't the original canal at all; not the canal that carried filthy water all the way to the sea. No, this was a closed off portion of the original canal that had been cleaned up. Unseen to visitors to Sia Boey, however, the murky water has been diverted into a parallel underground or covered-up conduit.

Several months ago, this project had attracted a lot of incredulity and controversy when pictures appeared of how fish was now swimming and thriving in what was once the murky waters of the canal. Could it really have happened that Penang had succeeded finally in cleaning up the infamously filthy Sia Boey canal?

Then it became known that in reality, the dirty water had simply been diverted into a separate conduit that had been constructed in parallel to this old stretch. There were accusations of a deception and the authorities were forced to clarify the situation.

Anyway, all this is behind us now and it is time for us to appreciate the good work that had been done to rehabilitate Sia Boey. Apart from the heritage Sia Boey building which used to house the old wet market and the fish pond running beside it, there is also a children's playground at one end of Sia Boey. It's a little green lung in the midst of the city and I am okay with that.

Monday, 4 November 2019

Jalan Dr Wu Lien Teh

Somehow, you would begin to realise that your contributions may be starting to bear some fruit when you see positive changes around you.

For example, I've been in the committee of the Dr Wu Lien-Teh Society for quite a while - since its inception, actually - and one of our objectives is to reconnect Penangites with this doctor who had been largely forgotten with the passage of time.

After all, it has been 140 years since Dr Wu Lien-Teh was born and 109 years since he fought and won against the dreaded plague. Next January would mark the 60th anniversary of his death.

I've written about him several times on my blog too; click here to read.

Recently, I was alerted that there was a new road in George Town, which connected Jalan Kampong Jawa Baru with Jalan SP Chelliah, and it was called Jalan Dr Wu Lien Teh. That got me pretty excited and I made it a point to track it down.

So now, in addition to Taman Wu Lien Teh (mind you, this is the name of a road and not a garden) in a residential area opposite his alma mater, Penang Free School, and a Jalan Wu Lean Teh (a misspelling, no doubt) in Ipoh, there is a new Jalan Dr Wu Lien Teh in Penang.

Apparently, the Penang Government must have listened closely to all the noise that we in the Dr Wu Lien-Teh Society have been generating since 2012 and decided that it was time to remember this great man again. A real-life Penang-born hero.

And I can tell you that we, the Old Frees around the world, are feeling pretty chuffed as well, ever since I broke the news on facebook and in my whatsapp postings.

Or maybe, the fact that the bust of Dr Wu Lien-Teh is now displayed prominently on the grounds of the Penang Institute in Brown Road had something to do with it. The bust, which is a gift from the University of Harbin in China, is an irresistible attraction. Standing in the front of the Penang Institute for a few years now - it used to be located at the Penang Medical College - it can hardly be missed by visitors.