Oh Snake Oh Snake


I stayed up late the evening before, chatting with the brother from Holland who is a wealth of knowledge…travel, spirituality, health, language, literature, etc. Sparkles above his crown chakra. Wow.

I climb out of my sleeping pod and encounter a fellow hostel mate stretching like a yogi. She is a sister from the stars, another who has left her husband and life in the US to expand her wings of light. I send her love, sharing messages, as she is working through many layers of life now. We chat in asanas and the like. She is an avid meditator and considers Pema Chodron to be her most beloved teacher.

In the common area all are awake and enjoying the heat of the morning.  Hair styling has begun, appointment times distributed to those interested. The family here at the guesthouse is unbelievable. My Chinese Canadian uncle trims my hair in the back of the hostel, my body covered by a hostel sheet to protect from flying hair pieces. I will return payment in some form later for he won’t accept ringgits.

On the main street Happy helps me find the bus to the mall and then another to the Snake temple. The temple is filled with burning incense and a variety of long green vipers lounging near the altars; the snakes are believed to be rendered harmless by the sacred smoke. The serpents are high! Tale of temple…Chor Soo Kong, a powerful healer and Buddhist monk, gave shelter to found snakes of the jungle and they have remained since. There is a shrine in honor of Chor Soo Kong, he represented as a statue with a black face, as it is believed that demons tried to cook him.

Another homage to Quan Yin is in the rear of the edifice with a beautiful bonsai garden and lush trees. I meditate here under the shade of a Chinese pagoda, honoring the mother of compassion from my own heart.

A small snake farm is located next to the temple where one can pet many of the sacred animals. There is a long yellow boa with a sign next to it saying “Touch me from my head to my tail and you will have good luck for one year”. Being that my fortune needs rendering, I slide my hand down the entire body of the fat snake. It is splendidly smooth and a few Malay girls are in awe of my valor.

A short presentation followed where the keeper kissed a king cobra on the mouth. This man is truly fearless.

As I wait for the bus I select a voluptuous fresh coconut and nourish my body with the juice and then the meat, spooning out the slimy flesh and dusting it with the ubiquitous spicy salt cocktail. Back in Georgetown I peruse the streets of Chinatown, mainly the shops filled with drawers of herbs, dried berries, and so many other items I have no clue how to define.  Every store has a red spirit house or altar protecting the energy of the space fed with flowers, food, and incense. Buddha love. I purchase some goji berries to repay my hair stylist. Goji berries in Asia cost peanuts compared to the US but have equally as much holy nutrition.

Relax for a bit in a cool cafe where I am attended well before heading back to my homey hostel. My Chinese Canadian uncle shares countless stories about life in Toronto and Montreal, his career as a stylist, that he has three children (and grandchildren), details regarding his father’s immigration from China and the wife and family he left behind, and so on. Uncle shares that his father was born in 1880 and I kindly request to know his own age, in which he replies a young 79. I am stunned, inspired, and can only hope to have as much charisma, stamina, and vivacity to be cruising around Asia and crashing in hostel dorms when I am nearly 80.

He tells me he likes my aura with a wink, and then recommends daily exercise and light vegetarian diet to live well.  Aho!

“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. ” ―Pema Chodron

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