Saturday, 25 February 2017

My annual worship of Tua Pek Kong

Earlier this month during the Chap Goh Meh morning, my wife made the rare decision to follow me to the Quah Kongsi where we were having our annual worship session for the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month. After that, we proceeded to Armenian Street as I had wanted to visit the Poh Hock Seah temple. This is the temple that houses the Tua Pek Kong deity.

On the 14th day of the first lunar month, the Tua Pek Kong would be taken on a procession around the city, starting from this temple, and wind its way to the Hai Choo Soo temple in Tanjong Tokong. At night when the high tide covered the biggest boulder in the sea, the chneah hoey or flame-watching ceremony would take place. The members of the temple committee would fan the urn until flames shoot out from the embers. The height of the flames would predict the prosperity of Penang until the next year.

And on the 15th day, the Tua Pek Kong would be invited back to his seat at the Poh Hock Seah, accompanied by firecrackers when the procession reached the temple's entrance.

Since about six years ago, after the worship at my Kongsi, I would make my way to the Poh Hock Seah. It's only a short walk away from the Kongsi in Carnarvon Lane, not more than 15 minutes, and no big deal for me. And in the past six years, I've been lucky to have been around Armenian Street once to witness the Tua Pek Kong arriving home. Even though I missed the event this year - the deity having already arrived back - I would pay homage at the temple.

That annual offering over, we ordered a plate of mee goreng from the mobile hawker across the road. In her quest to find the definitive plate of mee goreng in Penang, which she hasn't discovered yet, my wife wanted to taste the food from this particular stall. Who knows, this might be a gold mine.

Unfortunately, no. It turned out to be about the driest and most tasteless plate of mee goreng that we had ever had. In my opinion, the hawker, in his haste to earn the tourist dollars, had totally compromised on the quality of his fare. It was the worst of the worst. Unsuspecting outstation tourists may not know better but never again would we locals order anything from this stall. And I think nobody else should. Be forewarned.

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