Saturday, July 25, 2015

Tua Pek Kong Temple (Vihara Budhi Bhakti Temple) @ Nagoya District, Batam Island [Indonesia]

From the first time i stepped foot onto Batam Island, visiting the tua pek kong temple at Nagoya vicinity is a given although the positive thing is that i can see its development over the years. 

Let us start with the temple which hasn't really changed much; from what i remember, it is the oldest Chinese temple on the island and is also known locally as Vihara Budhi Bhakti.

Incense coils with good luck wishes and blessings took up the front compound like conical hats leaving out to dry under the hot sun. 

Seven-tier pagoda to burn the paper offerings; an imposing structure indeed. This is one Chinese religious practice that i could not explain rationally; but put it this way, we could not explain factually the existence of hell and heaven as well. *shrugs*.

Incense sticks holder outside the entrance - i gauge the popularity of a temple by the level and untidiness of the incense ashes and from the look of the above, the religious abode must be as popular as it claimed to be. 

Another clear sign of its fame; the irritation of your eyes when you step in. The worst i have ever encountered was at Kusu Island twenty years ago during its annual pilgrimage. 

Tour groups would have this temple as part of the itinerary and you do see a mixture of nationalities and races; Caucasians, Indians etc. 

Open courtyard where weather elements would affect you; i recollected once when it started to pour and you can see all the visitors rushing for the shelter, emptying the usually bustling center courtyard. 

Huge ass lanterns adorning the ceiling! Well, they should not come as a surprise for Singaporeans as this kind of display is pretty common among Chinese temples in the little red dot.

The candles were the ones that amazed us since such big-sized candles are no longer allowed in Singapore due to safety and environment reasons. Want to guess how long could each candle last?! 

Main deity for the temple; Tua Pek Kong! Rather small statue if you ask me; even the Qilin (a mythical Chinese creature) was bigger!

A colleague once asked me why Taoist temples have the tendency to have a separate area for Buddhism; i don't have the answer even though i tend to look at it the same way as countries where paganism and Christianity appear to have amalgamated. 

添油箱 - replenish the oil box where you make donations to the temple for blessings; seems like the Koreans are also one of their main clientele.

Why was there water when in normal circumstances, it should purely be sand based? This was situated at the courtyard and i guess it must be frustrating to keep changing the wet sand whenever it rains! 

The vibrantly coloured wall murals were also one of the main attractions of the temple; many of them depicted characters of popular traditional Chinese stories even though i could not pinpoint the character in the above picture.

This i know - Journey to the West with the main cast; Tripitaka the monk, Sun Wukong the monkey, Zhu Bajie the pig and Sha Wujing the demon! 

Differing from usual wall murals, the characters had three-dimensional elements! Quite scary though as the Zhu Bajie did appear as if he was embedded in the wall! 

Few decades ago, the temple was just a simple temple with a long history behind it. Tourists visit for its historical value while nowadays, many of them drop by also because of the many gigantic statues which served as interesting photo moments to show their friends back home. 

A few photographs for your viewing pleasure.

New building behind the temple which was housed within the same compound. From the Buddha statues on the glass panels on the top floor, i assumed this falls under Buddhism. 

There were some activities in the building which i eventually found out to be related to the Vesak Day celebrations. I didn't explore further as i could not find the rest of my family members! 

A section was reserved for candle light offerings - there was a banner listing the advantages of donating a candle light offering; one of which is "one would quickly gain enlightenment"! Total bullshit. Nowadays, i could not help but wonder the absurdity of how religions are being twisted and warped. 

Don't you think this is a pretty picture?! 

Ever wonder what is the magical power for each of the instrument that the Bodhisattva is holding in her many hands? The brain must be superbly intelligent in order to coordinate the use of each hand! 

More statues await us at the back of the temple! This one (think they were the seven fairies from heaven) also happened to be the pond for tortoises and fishes. 

Of course there was one for the Buddha too! As you can see, the statues were mainly donated by individuals and companies.

Make a guess of what this is supposed to depict! Many Chinese in Southeast Asia should know the voyage of Cheng Ho, the eunuch admiral from the Ming dynasty! 

Poor dragon has its teeth chipped off! Urgent dentistry work required! 

For a boat rumoured to be an impossibly 127 meters long and 52 meters wide for that era, the statue version was a tad disappointing in size. 

Golden Toad - like the Qilin, it was another mythical creature said to be auspicious as it can help to protect and attract wealth. Commonly used in Feng Shui, its placement is of utter importance! 

Near to the carpark was another building which was a bit more rundown.

Its devotees were rather specific; parents and children! It's quite uncommon to see children holding on to incense sticks and praying in Chinese temples. 

The patron deity in this case is Confucius although Confucianism isn't really a religion; more a philosophy of life. In this respect however, Buddhism is also quite similar. 

After the temples and the statues, it's time to take a well deserved respite from the hot weather and all the walking for  food and drinks! 

Aside from food stalls, there were convenience store and a shop selling religious offerings like oil, incense sticks, papers and cakes. Don't just think that you can use any paper to burn as offerings for the gods; there are in fact many to choose from and some can only be burnt to certain gods and/or during specific festive seasons. 

Jovyn and Jerald were more engrossed in the toys we used to play when we were younger. Replicating the roles of our parents, i have to explain why i shouldn't buy for them; i am an absolute believer that we should not promote the behaviour of kids getting everything they want at such young age! 

As lunch was just a three hours away, i decided not to have anything although i didn't have a fulfilling breakfast that morning. 

I did need a cup of coffee to perk me up though! Hate it when Kopi-O was given (10,000 rupiah) as i specifically asked for Kopi (which should come with condensed milk)!

For those in seek of good food, do remember the stall above along the same stretch. It should be easy to find as it was the only one selling kuehs, dumplings and fried stuff. 

Go for pandan kuih cara and eat them while they are still hot! The stall owner saw me almost salivating and offered me a sample! Could not resist and bought set for 10,000 rupiah! 

Delicious and not as sweet as those in Singapore although it's best to eat them right away; taste wasn't as fragrant and delicious once they turn cold. 

Another item which was a must-have is the prawn crackers!

At three for 8,000 rupiah (less than S$1 in current currency exchange), they were quite good for the pricing even though in my opinion, the chilli was the selling point! 

Lastly, a picture of our entourage! 

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For more information on my day trip to Batam Island (including contact details to rent a car with a chauffeur), click here

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