St. Anne’s Feast Day 2009

St. Anne's Shrine Bukit Mertajam
St. Anne’s Shrine Bukit Mertajam.

St. Anne’s Feast Day falls on July 26. The celebration usually begins well before that. Wuan and I were fortunate that we made the trip back to Penang just as the celebration began. We went to the Church of St. Anne in Bukit Mertajam on Sunday with my two maternal aunts. These two plucky septuagenarians are my mother’s younger sisters. Most of the relatives on my mother’s side are Roman Catholics.

Statue of St. Anne with a young Mary inside the St. Anne Shrine
Statue of St. Anne with a young Mary inside St. Anne Shrine Bukit Mertajam.
Photo by Wuan.

The church compound was not crowded. It was very hot though. It had rained a while before we arrived. With little cloud cover, the sun bore down hard on us. I had gone up to the shrine two years ago for the first time since using a wheelchair when Bryan and Reallybites went with us. It is a long steep path from level ground.

The Ten Commandments carved into a rock near St. Anne's Shrine Bukit Mertajam
The Ten Commandments carved into a rock near St. Anne’s Shrine Bukit Mertajam.
Photo by Wuan.

It would take a lot of effort for Wuan to push me up. So we gave going up to the shrine a pass. Instead, we checked out the makeshift stalls set up at the car park to sell candles, flowers, statues, religious items, books, and snacks and drinks. My aunts bought a box of candles each and slowly limped their way up the granite steps to pay homage to St. Anne inside the shrine. Wuan and I browsed through the books at the Daughters of Pauline stall.

Fifteenth Station of The Cross - The Resurrection of Jesus at St. Anne's Shrine in Bukit Mertajam
Fifteenth Station of The Cross – The Resurrection of Jesus – beside St. Anne’s Shrine Bukit Mertajam.
Photo by Wuan.

I got myself the Saint Joseph Personal Size Edition of The New American Bible and a PVC cover to protect it. I have been looking for one that I can take with me whenever I travel. We also bought a few Rosaries. Among them were two rose scented Rosaries for Wuan’s parents who were baptized earlier this year on Easter. After that, Wuan took the camera and went traipsing around while I took shelter beneath the shadow of the stalls and observed the activities of the growing crowd as the sun began to set.

Penang Drivers Are Crazy!

The thing most prominent about Penang now is not its good food but the crazy traffic. Wuan and I were on the island from Wednesday to Sunday last week to finalize the preparations for our upcoming wedding banquet. It was like a warzone on the roads. Most of the roads were congested. Drivers do not give way. Some attempted to squeeze me off the road to get just one car ahead even though I had the right of way. There was simply no courtesy in Penang roads. Saying that it was a harrowing experience is an understatement.

Blogging workshop at Penang Spastic Centre
With Blogging Workshop participants at Penang Spastic Centre.

We dropped Cheeky and Fei Por off in Ipoh on Wednesday for boarding at the veterinarian in Ipoh Garden, had lunch with Wuan’s parents and sister and then went up to Penang on the same day. On the evening that we arrived, I met with a few ex-schoolmates from La Salle School that I have not meet since I left St. Xavier’s Institution in 1983. The gathering was also sort of a farewell for our schoolmate Alec who was going back to the United Kingdom. Seeing how much we have changed over the years really made me feel old.

Basically, this trip was rushing from one place to another giving out invitation cards and meeting relatives I have not met in a while. On Friday, we were over in Bukit Mertajam to meet my cousin who then went with us to Alor Star to see my seventh paternal uncle. It has been three decades since I was there last. The only two things that I remember about this state capital are the Balai Besar and Miramar Hotel. What I like most about Kedah is the wide expanse of paddy fields. Another trip to Kedah is in the works for Wuan and I to capture these rustic sights for posterity; soon hopefully.

Heavy rain at the North-South Expressway
Caught in the heavy rain at the North South Expressway.

I took time off on Saturday to conduct a half-day blogging workshop at the Penang Spastic Centre. The topic of the workshop was centred around using blogs as a tool for advocacy on disability issues. Half day was not sufficient to cover the pertinent points but that was all I could spare. Perhaps, I will do a followup workshop just to get the participants to share the progress in their blogging adventure in a few months’ time. We made our way back to Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, stopping by in Ipoh again to pick up our cats, have lunch, bought some pomelos and made our way south only to be caught in a heavy thunderstorm from Simpang Pulai to Ulu Bernam.