SIBU: Two tourists from Holland witnessed what they described as a ‘Little China’ experience at the Tua Pek Kong temple here as religious practices carried out thousands of years ago in mainland China unfolded before them.
The two in their 20s had not expected to see this in a land thousands of miles away from the mainland.
Ales and Annabelle said they had heard of the cultural colours in this part of the world, and had travelled together to Malaysia, with Borneo in mind.
They landed in Kuala Lumpur before travelling to Kuching, arriving in Sibu on the eve of the Chinese New Year.
“We know of this major festival in Asia, and we walked over to the temple for a glimpse, but found ourselves walking into a world of colour and sounds we have never seen before.”
Their first glimpse was of hundreds of worshippers entering the temple to light joss sticks.
“Out of curiosity, we followed them to see what they did. We also offered incense. We were thrilled.”
Temple committee member Soon Choon Kui, who met them at the temple’s main gate, welcomed the foreign tourists with open arms.
He said Tua Pek Kong Temple had attracted thousands of tourists for more than a century.
The colourful events handed down to them by their forefathers intrigued tourists who witnessed a culture well preserved outside China.
He said what the two Dutch tourists saw on the eve of Chinese New Year were offerings of roast pigs, fruits, drinks and other food, the burning of paper money and joss sticks and other ceremonial events.
Sitting on stone slabs outside the temple next to the main entrance under the trees, Ales and Annabelle looked skyward as smoke from thousands of burning joss sticks rose upwards.
Fireworks exploded overhead so they were also surrounded by the sounds of firecrackers.
The smoke was thick but it did not bother Ales and Annabelle although they got teary-eyed at times.
Ales clicked her phone camera to capture magical images of the large dragon joss sticks and worshippers offering incense.
The two visitors left Sibu yesterday, heading for Miri before going to Sabah.
Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Tourists enchanted by Sibu's temple experience.