First of all, I am totally not fond of snake but having lived in Penang for many years before, I found myself returning to the Snake Temple each time friends from other states or abroad visiting the island for the first time.
Penang Snake Temple, Bayan Lepas
The Snake Temple is no doubt one of the major attraction Penang has to offer. Located in Sungai Kluang, Bayan Lepas, it is perhaps the only temple of its kind in Malaysia since it was built in 1850, in honor of a Buddhist monk called Chor Soo Kong. It was said that snakes had mysteriously appeared in the temple upon its completion. The monk gave shelter to these snakes and after his death, they remain in the surrounding of the temple.
Snake is one of the zodiac sign in Chinese Lunar calendar. Ancient Chinese believed that snake in the house is a good omen and it means the family will not starve.
Coiling around the branches
Surprisingly, pit vipers are the only species to be found even until today though the number has diminished over the years due to rapid development of the area. They can be seen coiling around tree branches and some around the altar at the temple.
Since they are mostly in shades of green, these snakes camouflage with the leafy branches effortlessly. Hence you many not notice them easily but once you take a closer look, you will quickly spot them.
They were believed to be harmless despite being known to be venomous and aggressive. For safety sake, the snakes have been de-venomed but still with their fangs intact. Visitors are advised not to touch them. Most of the snakes seem motionless and still. It was said that the smoke of burning incense is sacred and causes the snakes to be submissive and motionless.
Python on display
However, there is a huge python on display which visitors are welcome to drape around the neck and have a quick photo session with the slithering reptile.
Visitors are welcome to pose with the python
Despite visiting the temple for many times, I'm still intimidated by these creatures and they never fail to send shiver down my spine. Having said that, I have friends who enjoyed the visit and even had fun posing with the python!
Another interesting fact about this temple is that it was featured in The Amazing Race 16 during the eighth leg from Seychelles to Malaysia.
Admission to the temple is free but donations are welcome. Small fee applies for photo session with the python and visit to the mini snake farm behind the temple where a small collection of reptiles can be seen. The temple is open daily for visiting from 6am - 7pm. Getting here is an easy drive or just a taxi ride from town.