Monday, February 9, 2009

Kemarau Island 2009

Kemarau Island comes alive only once a year during the last few days of Chinese New Year. Last year, we were a few days late and all we saw was a deserted island with all the temples locked up.

To recap, there is a temple dedicated to a minor Taoist deity called Toa Pek Kong. Minor or not, people from as far as Singapore come to worship here annually. Toa Pek Kong watches over households, villages and rural lands.

We went there again yesterday. It was the first day of the festivities. It was two years ago that I first heard of this place. People told me that once a year, many boats were used as a temporary bridge across the river. They used the word "many" and I understood the other word to mean "boat". In my mind, I imagined this type of fishing boat, lined up side by side across the river. It would have been an incredible sight and experience walking across.



I have to admit that I was disappointed when I saw what it really was. Maybe I misunderstood or maybe two years of imagining built up the scene too much in my mind because they weren't boats but barges!



Once across, I forgot that I was disappointed. The place was already quite crowded even though it was only 3pm and the main event was later that night.

People were, of course, worshipping:


Some were sending cash up to the heavens. The yellow/red paper in the pit is the "money". You have to use your earthly currencies to buy the yellow money but the exchange rate is extremely favorable.


There was a place that you could buy some protection. The yellow/red papers (different to the money) can be stuck in front of your house or carried in your wallet to protect you. Richard told me that as a child, his dad soaked the paper in water and then had him drink it.


There were also all sorts of vendors that setup shop here just for a couple of days to cater to the crowds.

Drinks...


Miscellaneous worship materials...


Birds for setting free...


Entertainment for the kids...


Restaurants...


I'd never eat anything there though. Take a look at the water they use to wash the plates.


We had a good time wandering around the island. Maybe next year we'll stay till the night and see what goes on after dark.

5 comments:

Mike said...

The last picture reminds me of the saying, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". I think I would bring my own food.

Bilbo said...

Another great travelogue! You ought to consider submitting some of these pieces to travel magazines (seriously!). The dishwater was a bit off-putting, though...

Jean-Luc Picard said...

You got there well in time this year!

Gratitude Gal said...

What great pictures and a great experience! I love the kiddie rides, how funny! I agree, don't eat there though. Rough stuff.
Cheryl

Nap Warden said...

Wow...so different from where I am standing. That's why I love your posts!