Nine Gods Festival 九王爷 is celebrated differently in Ipoh. We have edible pink turtles!! Not the real critically endangered ones, but cute pinkish made from flour ones.
I have been visiting this temple with my mom and sister for as long as I can remember. Try to find a parking outside the temple and try your best to avoid the joss sticks selling touts. They bug and bug you until you buy a packet of joss sticks from them but, please refrain from buying from them because the amount of joss sticks are not enough for you to stick onto every altars!
Joss sticks and mantra papers by the roadside.
Once inside, you can buy joss sticks that are ngam ngam from the official temple's counter. From RM 1 to RM 3 per packet.
Yellow is the official color. This is a basket-ful of joss stick plastic wrapper trash.
There are two type of pink paus. Turtle shaped and peach shaped. Buy those pink paus from stalls outside the temples. With just a few stalls to choose from, just head to the stall with most costumers. Paus are used as offerings or just to eat because they are so hot and fluffy!
You can choose from these peach shaped piping hot paus or the un-steamed ones on the yellow trays. Same price RM1 per pau. But they do not look peachy shaped right? Now, what about turtle shaped ones?
Pink- Lotus fillings
Yellow- Pandan fillings, my fave :)
Oh look, some business tai-ko had ordered thousands of pink turtle paus as offerings! All the stalls run out of pink turtle paus stocks
Some auspicious words are stamped with blue ink on the paus, in the older days, the words are piped with colored flour, too much work I guess. Unless it's big pink turtles paus like below. Turtles paus do not have fillings. It's just plain pau. Plain?! How boring?! Not really. Not when you follow my recipe here.
The words are written with colored flours.
Yellow turtle paus!
Eyes are made from red or green beans. Cute! I love the cute white flippers/ paws/ legs. LOL!
Superdupercutesmaller ones.. RM 1 per pair. Not edible the seller insists.
"Mom, can I keep one as pet?"
A closer look at the entrance, shaky shot of a nails covered armchair!! Not built for comfort for sure.
There are few rules and procedures when entering the temple.
Mom loyally repeat this phrase, year after year "Do not step on the door block, you must cross it without touching the poisonous step". I added the poisonous word in though. Not sure why though but I heard mothers reminding their children not to step on it too. But some just don't care. Remind me to ask my mom why the taboo next time.
Took me less than 30 seconds to shoot a picture of someone on the block of wood. Sorry kid.
I will try to guide you with one eye close from the smokiness. It's so smoky inside! Imagine few hundreds people lighting up their mass of joss sticks! Someone should measure the API level in the temple. =)
Try to find a place on any tables and do the followings as fast as possible;
1. Clear the space. Space can be as small as the space for two small paus.
2. Light up all your joss sticks from the many oil lamps.
3. Stick one joss on one of the pau.
4. Go to the middle to say your wishes/ prayers. Stick 3 sticks on the main altar pot.
5. Go to the altars on your right first and put 3 sticks into each available pots.
6. Once all the pots inside the temple are filled, proceed to the outside. Remember, no stepping on the wood block at the entrance!!!
7. Find all the pots and finally allocate 9 sticks for the altar that look like below. That's the main one.
8. Don't forget the papier mache horse.
Spot the lucky number :D
9. Time to do the very fun, three circles under the idol's counter/ table routine. Used to be the highlight of this trip last time because before they renovate the place, we have to crawl under real wooden tables! Now it's a human height passage, not so fun.
10.Taketheyellow amulet paper from the guy standing outside the passageway. One free piece of amulet per person.
11. Circles three round and end with smoking your wallet/ purse on a fragrant incense pot.
Reason: Must be something to do with fortune and money, money, money!
Phew.. finally, you can pack your paus and leave the temple after making some donation. Like usual, we will go to the temple's vegetarian food court to eat our breakfast. You can visit the temple at any time of the day. Not sure if the food court is open 24 hours though.
One our way out, we saw the parade of devotees carrying kavadis much like the Thaipusam parade. Few gory pictures ahead, skip if you are the queasy type.
Ready to remove the sharp through- the-chins-piercing
Sharp at one end
Daggers at another end
3 and out!! See the pointy end!
Chinese opera stage opposite the temple entrance. Shows only starts at night. Looks eerie to me even in daylight.
Let's go to eat instead..
Vegetarian food court's food is a miss this year. Too many MSG involved and repetitive dishes.
Fried stuff and noodles.
More fried stuff. Did I mention repetitive?
Sister's mushroom porridge. RM 2. Note of encouragement: My sister followed the strict vegetarian diet for nine days for this festival.
My sweet sauce chee cheong fun. Not as good as the one I had years ago but acceptable. RM 2.
Mom's spicy pan mee. Bad. Can't finish.
Some fried yam stuff. Forgettable. RM 0.8
Soursop Smoothies. RM 2.5. Not nice.
We are disappointed with the food. There are few good vegetarian restaurant in town but sadly they are not selling their goods here though. On the way out, we peeked at the pau stalls for pink turtles paus. Yay! They are on sale!! So I grabbed two pair (RM 2 per pair). Yum!
Wow. What a long post! Try for my Pink Turtle Paus recipe okay!
Address: Tokong Tow Boh Keong; 12, Jln Tokong, 31650 Ipoh
To know more about how they celebrate the festival in the Klang Valley (Ampang, to be precise) , please visit Riki's post here.