New place, new adventure. We are quite curious about what’s gonna happen the next days. We are volunteering at a Hare Krishna temple in Butterworth Malaysia. The only experience we had so far to this religion was in the streets of Germany. Young men distributing free books to people. Men with special haircuts wearing apricot robes. So we really don’t know a lot.
It is not far from Georgetown to Butterworth, an other part of Penang. We walk to the ferry station to leave the island and take a local bus. Finding the right one is not that easy, google maps is not always right…But we make it and after a short 20 min ride the driver drops us at a bus stop next to a big street. Following the direction of our smartphone we walk across a narrow bridge passing a bird park and one temple after the other, buddhist, hindu, even protestant church. Looks like an industry park, but for religions.
We walk in the temple area and it’s huge. The Hare Krishna temple itself is a nicely decorated three stories building with white elephants in front, two other buildings behind and connected by gang ways. The ground floor of the left one is an open space and a lot of people are sitting around talking and eating.
Shy because of all the people we slowly enter the area. A smiling man in the cloths of a preacher is approaching us and it is Siva, the guy we message to via workaway.info. First thing to do – eating. Every friday free food is offered fo the public. That’s why so many people are here. We take a seat next to a Chinese guy and start eating our first “Prasada”. That’s how they call the holy and healthy food they eat at Hare Krishna. It is Indian style, only vegetarian and without eggs. It is so delicious. Hare Krishna sometimes is called “the kitchen religion”, so this is also going to become a culinary week for us 🙂
While enjoying the food we talk to the Chinese guy. He is together with Siva co-president of the temple and knows a lot about the religion. The most important book he tells us is the “Bhagavad Gita as it is” from A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who translated it from Sanskrit to English. It is the most important book of Hinduism. Prabhupada travelled from India to America and started to spread the religion. In just eleven years before his death he established temples all over the world and gathered two million devotees. The temple here in Butterworth opened 2015 and is now the biggest all over Malaysia.
Happy after all that yummy food and the nice and welcoming atmosphere we follow Siva to the guest rooms. We can choose from a room with aircon on the sunny side or with fan on the shaded one of the building. We decide in favor of the aircon, but more because it seems more clean. But most of the rooms are in quite good condition with a private bath room and bunk beds. We disassemble ours and convert it to a double bed 😉
After moving into our new temporary home we ask Siva what we should do and he tells us it is up to us how much we want to do. They can need help in the kitchen with cleaning after cooking and washing the dishes. After everybody finished dinner, we start with doing the dishes around 9:30. Never ever did I saw so big pots, bowls and spatulas.
The following morning Siva asks us to help cooking for 300 students. We peel potatoes and carrots. Tons of pots has to be washed and we clean the kitchen after cooking is finished.
Washing the dishes is the main thing we are doing the next days. Beside that we are cleaning different staircases and public areas. It is nice to help the people so that we can give back a little bit for all the good food, the warm smiles and comfy room.
The afternoons we spend mostly with walking to the nearby super market, getting softdrinks and sweets.
One evening we attend the Hare Krishna ceremony. A lot of people are coming. Laying down in front of a Prabhubada and a Krishna statue, singing and dancing. Men on the left, women on the right side of the temple. Some guys are playing an interesting type of drum. Mostly one guy is singing first and the others repeat. After more than one hour all are sitting down and the Chinese co-president is thanking different people for different services and donations.
The week passes fast and so we are packing again our stuff to move on. The next destination is Kuching on Borneo. Helen and I decide to split up for some days there to see how good it works and that everybody has some days for himself. Siva contacts the Krishna temple in Kuching. I can stay there again for free as a volunteer. He is handing us a free copy of the Baghavad Gita as a gift before he drops us at the ferry station. This week has been an amazing time with lovely people, that shared so much with us. Thank you Siva, thank you Hare Krishna!