Welcoming the Year of the Snake in Malaysia

Note: Don’t like snakes? I don’t recommend this post!
How about you read about my food challenge for 2013 which started in Malaysia or perhaps about the stunning Eastern & Oriental Hotel we stayed at in George Town, Penang?

Landing in Penang, Malaysia after 36-hours of transit – including an 8 hour stop in Melbourne – on about two-hours sleep had me feeling woozy. All I wanted was a shower and a nap, and perhaps a very large glass of pineapple juice; what I didn’t want was to be told that we were off to visit a Snake Temple.

Kek Lok Si Snake Temple in Penang

I have a very irrational fear of things with more than four legs, and a very rational fear of things with no legs; but no sooner had I tried to express this than I was being ushered inside the temple by Frankie, our guide for the week, and being introduced to the slithering locals.

Hesitantly walking into Ban Kah Lan temple I expected the temple to be dripping with snakes – slithering across the ground and hanging from the ceiling, thankfully they were confined to the alter area.

Kek Lok Si Snake Temple in Penang

At first glance I thought that they were fake – the midday heat renders them still and immobile, and their glossy skin and beady eyes looked like highly shone plastic. Our guide Frankie assured us they were real and explained that the incense leaves them drowsy and docile, and I didn’t want to push my luck to test if they were or not.

Kek Lok Si Snake Temple in Penang

Whilst the most common type of snake, and the only one I saw on the day, at the temple is the venomous Wagler’s pit viper, as a sign of gratitude for not removing them from the Hokkien Buddhist Temple after construction was complete, the snakes have never bit anyone and coexist harmoniously with humans since 1850. As such the species have been nicknamed ‘temple vipers’.

If you haven’t had enough of the snakes there is also a snake exhibition next door which charges a small admittance fee but gives you access to see other species of cobra and python, and if you’re brave enough, hold one!

Kek Lok Si Snake Temple in Penang

Selemat Tahun Baru/Happy New Year

How are you welcoming in the year of the snake?

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Penang Snake Temple (Ban Kah Lan)

Sungai Kluang, Bayan Lepas
Penang, Malaysia

Open Daily from 7am to 7pm

Note: If you’re still a little afraid of being bitten note that the hemotoxin venom which the Wagler’s pit vipers have is painful, but not normally fatal to humans.

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  • Reply
    February 9, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    I can handle snakes, it’s the spiders that freak me out!

    • Reply
      February 11, 2013 at 2:45 am

      Eek! We can be in the same boat. 🙂
      Hope you don’t encounter any creepy crawlies of the 8-legged variety anytime soon!

  • Reply
    February 12, 2013 at 6:32 am

    Woahhh, quite a Year of the Snake celebration! Good job the incense was there 🙂

    • Reply
      February 14, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      Yes, they were pretty scary even if they were subdued!

      Happy year of the snake! 🙂

  • Reply
    February 12, 2013 at 7:45 am

    omg I couldn’t handle it…give me the year of the rabbit lol

    • Reply
      February 14, 2013 at 5:28 pm

      Well next year is the year of the Horse (woohoo! my year!) – hope you can handle them 😉

  • Reply
    March 27, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Hey dear. Great post, great blog! I’m from Malaysia and I’m glad you enjoyed your time there. Happy new year to you too! (Selamat Tahun Baru instead of Selemat though)

    Cheers for more to come! 😀

    • Reply
      March 27, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      Blast! And here I thought my Malaysian was coming along nicely! Thank you so much for the correction, Kai.

      You have a fantastic country! I can’t wait to head back there and explore later this year. Do you have any insiders hot spots?

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