Friday, 20 February 2009



We arrived in the Marina in Penang. Tanjong City Marina. The less said the better. Its redeeming feature is that it is adjacent to one of the best cultural centres in Asia. George Town is a World Heritage listed site and is a living Museum of Chinese, Indian and Malay culture. The most diverse food and cultural heritage combined with fabulous architecture dating from the 1700's . To cap the experience here its the finale of Chinese New Year Celebrations and Thaipusam.

Thaipusam is an Indian festival. Body piercing in the extreme. Devotees indulge to fulfil their vows to the Lord Muruga. Symbolic milk pots are carried and many have them attached to fish hooks and hung all over their bodies. Large fish hooks are also inserted through the body and tied to ropes which in turn are tied to carts or held firmly by a follower. Gruesome and fascinating. The Kavadis are heavy frames worn over the shoulders and held aloft for the duration. They are often attached by rods which pass through the skin and back to the structure to hold it in should tell it all. The whole procession which is miles long goes to a temple up 270 steps on the mountainside. Music blaring and lots of dancing and free food ensure this is a celebration you wont forget in a hurry. The piercing is banned in Tamil Nadu south India so many devotees make the journey to Malaysia to participate in this festival.

Hitori and Machiko, artists and friends from Penang also hosted us to a stunning Japanese dinner in their home whilst we were there. We were able to reciprocate by taking them sailing down to Batu Muang and en route to sail past the fabulous sculpture on the water front designed by Hitori. They hadn't had the opportunity to view it from the water previously so this was a great thrill for us all.

Onward towards Singapore from where we will fly home for a wedding.

Hitori's Beyond Blue.