You’re going to want to stay tuned after viewing this.  I’m not just telling you about a very cool place I visited to photograph.  This is a world-famous site where I hope to lead YOU to photograph in the months to come.

In the northwest corner of Penang island, Malaysia is a fishing hamlet called Teluk Bahang—roughly translated “Heatwave Bay.”  Because this small town is majority Malay Muslim, it comes as a surprise that here is located a Hindu temple that’s fairly important to local devotees—Kuil Sri Singamuga Kaliamman. 

It’s not important because it was featured on “The Amazing Race” (Season 16, Episode 8), but because it’s the venue for an occasional annual Hindu events.

Penang island in Malaysia is a fascinating place because it’s one of those unique convergences of several civilizations.  Where those civilizational tectonic plates come together one of two things can happen.  Either they create a lot of friction & heat that leads to ethnic clashes, or people manage to find some way to get along, & everyone profits from the multi-faceted culture.

Malaysia is a place that has long succeeded at the latter. 

No visit to Brunei Darussalam’s capital—Bandar Seri Begawan—is complete without a visit to the Kampung Ayer—reputably the world’s largest water village with over 30,000 inhabitants. 

Looks & first descriptions can be deceiving.  Don’t look here for clapboard shanties over the water as seen in smaller water gypsy settlements in this part of the world.  At first these houses standing on stilts over the water may appear like a water gypsy settlement.  But you need to look closer.

Most visitors to Brunei never get far out of the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan or Seria—the next biggest city.  But a visit to these sea & river-faring Malays is not complete without a trip up the Brunei River on a traditional Malay wooden perahu. 

In the old town of Georgetown, Penang--a UNESCO World Heritage Site--is a road called the "Street of Harmony".  There's an old colonial Anglical church at one end, an old Achenese built Mosque at the other, & houses of worship from other major religions in between.

The Hindu Thaipusam festival is an astonishing event to witness in Penang, Malaysia.  In honor of their god Murugan, Hindus create huge & colorful kavadi or burdens that devotees then carry several kilometers to Murugan's temple.  Many of the pilgrims allow themselves to have many body piercings--even with large skewers piercing their cheeks and the tips of their tongues.  A few weeks ago I had opportunity to participate in Matt Brandon & Gavin Gough's Thaipusam Workshop.

Most years Brunei Darussalam is the richest per capita nation on earth.  A place about the size of Connecticut, but that sits on huge oil reserves means lots of money for nearly everyone.  

Sometimes when living as an expatriate overseas you come across customs & sports that are as amazing as they are strange.