Journey to Enlightenment @ Chin Swee Cave Temple, Genting

TRIGGER WARNING: This post contains images that may be disturbing for some. Reader discretion is advised. 

….I don’t know, they always put that on TV shows. Anyway, if you’re the easily offended kind, here is a nice picture of flowers, and you can safely proceed to the X button. If not, read on.

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I blogged about visiting the Chin Swee Cave Temple in Genting in my last post. It’s a beautiful place up in the hills, with giant deity statues and amazing views of the valley. But there’s a section in this Taoist temple that chronicles the ‘Journey to Enlightenment’, which explains the different levels of hell one has to go through before rebirth. In Chinese diyu or hell, there are said to be 10 ‘courts’ where souls go to face their judgment and subsequent punishments (similar to Dante’s Inferno).Discounting the brutality of the punishments, the exhibit is actually a very interesting insight into Taoist/Chinese culture and mythology.

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We begin in the First Hell Chamber, which is overseen by Qin Guang Wang. he manages a book which dictates birth and death in the mortal realm, determining if they’ll live a long life or die a premature death. He’ll also do ‘sorting’: so if you’ve done a lot of good deeds, you’ll go to the Heavenly Realm (ie heaven/ like a Chinese version of Nirvana). If you’ve done both good/bad, you’ll be sent to the 9th chamber to be reborn into the mortal realm and if you’ve been a real rotten egg… well, you know what awaits.

The ideal is, of course, to achieve Nirvana and go to heaven, but unlike in religions where you only get one shot at life, Taoists believe that you can be reborn many times over. As devotees, one should strive to do as many good deeds as possible not just to avoid hell, but be finally free of the rebirth cycle.20160731_090159-tile

Taoist hell is a terrifying place with Hell guards and loads of suffering. Some of the prominent characters here are the ‘Guai Chai’ or Black and White Ghost Guards (picture above) who escort prisoners to the Underworld. Like Yin and Yang, they represent opposing forces of good and evil, balanced as a whole entity.

**More info here: Heibai Wuchang 

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In the right chamber there will be a mirror which shows the prisoner their past misdeeds. The Hell Guards will be there to keep an eye on the prisoners. They are depicted as fierce-looking demons, ready to mete out punishment with swords, spears, whips and chains. Two prominent Hell Guards that feature in every folklore is the Ngao Tao (ox head) and Ma Meen (horse face).

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The second chamber of Hell is ruled by Chu Jiang Wang and is dubbed Reviving Hell. Kidnappers, doctors who intentionally caused harm through malpractice, those who caused disabilities in others, adulterers, and those who have committed suicide will be punished here after death, according to the placard written next to the exhibit.

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It gets worse from here. Third chamber of Hell is ruled by Song Di Wang, and is called the Black Line Hell. Cheaters, disloyal and dishonest individuals, those who harmed others for self benefit, robbers and thieves will receive punishment here.

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This is the fourth chamber of Hell, or the Rounding Up and Crushing Hell. People who evaded taxes, cheated in sales, disrespected the elderly, bullied poor folks, did not abide by the law, were prone to vanity, etc are punished here. I don’t know why the ‘rules’ are so specific that they would have punishments for people who didn’t pay taxes (??) but sometimes things get lose in translation from Chinese to English. Also, bear in mind that these are based on folklore and belief blended with religion.

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Moving on, we have the Fifth Chamber of hell, or the Howling Hell. Those who haggled over fame and fortune, rapists, liked to fight and gamble, was jealous of the kind hearted, those who shot poultry and birds, wrested away farm land or destroyed water sources will be punished in this chamber. For their sins, prisoners are tied to a fiery rod to burn.

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The Sixth Chamber of Hell is controlled by Bian Cheng Wang, and is dubbed the Great Howling Hell. It’s not enough to call it Howling Hell, so they added a Great – so you can bet the punishments are really severe. Those who disregarded the gods and their teachings, violated ethical practices and wasted staple food will be punished in this hell.

I understand the part about wasting staple food. Ancient China was an agricultural society and food sources were not always easy to come by, especially during famines. My bro and I were taught never to waste food, and we even have sayings to deter food wastage, like “if you don’t finish every grain of rice in your bowl, your spouse is gonna be pockmarked.”

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This is the Seventh Chamber of Hell, or Heating Hell. No points for guessing what they do to prisoners there – they boil them alive. And saw their heads. Those who lived lavishly, gambled, practiced abortion , bullied the weak and fabricated truths will receive punishment here.

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Filial piety is a pillar of Chinese culture, and those who disobeyed, disrespected or treated their parents badly will suffer in the Eighth Chamber of Hell, called Intense Heating Hell. They’ll be crushed by heavy slabs, or thrown into a pit of fire.

The final chamber is called Ultimate Torment Hell. Crimes: Abortionists, men who raped young girls (apparently there are separate hells for rapists and rapists of young girls, the latter considered more severe?) and ‘those who enticed young men’… whatever that means.

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We’re almost at the end of the long and arduous journey. In the final Chamber, prisoners who have gone through their punishments will then be sorted to be reborn into the mortal realm. Even after punishments, if your sins are too severe, you might be reborn into an animal’s body in your next life. Else, you’ll become human again.

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Prisoners will drink a liquid called ‘Mang Po Tong’ (Blind Woman’s Soup). The Blind Woman is a figure who helps souls pass on to the next life. Her elixir will wipe out all your memories, so you won’t have any recollection of who you are in the past and can start afresh.

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Souls pass on through bridges into the mortal world. There are several categories that you can be reborn into, including Human, Mammal, Bird, Aquatic creatures (fish, turtles, etc) and Insects/invertebrate. The higher realm is of course, the Heavenly Realm resided by gods and deities.

…and that was the Journey to Enlightenment exhibit, although it was more a journey through hell.

I can’t say I agree with everything, but it’s not for me to judge. Different cultures/religions have different beliefs. Understanding is more important than judging, I say.

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Less trigger-ing pictures. Gorgeous mountain views.

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From Hell to Heaven – ‘Fairies’ on clouds, pulling a carriage in which the Heavenly Mother or Wong Mo is seated. The scene shows preparations for her birthday celebration, where all the gods and deities come together in heaven for a feast.

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Fook, Look,Sau – three deities that represents prosperity, wealth and status, and longevity.

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Wong Mo’s birthday always features giant peaches, which grow in heaven and promises longevity. In the Chinese classic Journey to the West, Sun Wukong the monkey wreaks havoc when he steals into the garden and eats all the peaches meant for Wong Mo’s birthday celebration.

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Part of the temple complex.

Chin Swee Cave Temple is a great place to visit for the views, culture and architecture. Entrance is free, but donations are welcome. If you stay at their accommodations, the money is donated to charity.

HOW TO GET TO CHIN SWEE CAVES TEMPLE

The best way to get to Chin Swee Caves Temple is by taking a cable car from Awana Skyway at the base of the mountain, near the Genting Highlands Premium Outlet. The temple is one of the stations where you can hop off at no extra charge.

Travel Diaries – Genting Outdoor Theme Park

Every kid my age must remember growing up to at least ONE visit to this iconic theme Malaysian theme park : Genting! It has been 8 years since my last visit. Went up with the fam over a weekend. I was really excited coz I needed the holiday to escape from mounting stress at work. x__x Also coz they were revamping the place so it was a timely excursion before they shut it down for a couple of years. Apparently they’re building a FOX theme park here!

To those who don’t know, Genting Highlands is a theme park atop the mountains of Pahang, about an hour’s drive from KL. Going up with a car can be really taxing for the engine, so some people take the bus/taxi up or the cable car. Recently there was a huge bus crash here – a bus driver lost control of the vehicle and it plunged down the ravine.. more than 2/3 of the passengers died. So I’ve officially sworn off taking the bus up here even if it means taxis are more expensive lul.

Apart from the theme park(s) (there’s an indoor one too), what Genting is most famous for is definitely their casinos. But more of that in another post.

The weather was absolutely lovely. Bright, clear but cold. Reminded me of English summers.Despite being a weekday, there weren’t many people – probably coz we caught the place in it’s last legs – they’re closing it down soon for renovations. Most of the rides have been there for ages.  The place recently celebrated it’s 48th anniversary, so you can imagine how old it is. The entry for both outdoor and indoor was RM70 (pretty pricey! Considering that they closed down most of the rides already. The price we paid was purely for ‘nostalgic purposes’, imo.  :x)

This was probably the last time I would get to ride on these creaky old attractions. They were REALLY old. I don’t remember them being so forlorn and worn down from my last visit. The mechatronics made screechy metal noises, like they’d fall apart at any minute. It’s sad that this once most-sought after theme park has fallen to this dilapidated state, while everyone else goes for newer attractions. Good thing that they’re revamping it then!

On the Ferris wheel! Moo was absolutely terrified of heights, she closed her eyes through the entire 10 minute ride lol.

Wei, pops and I went on the ‘Space Shuttle’ ride (right). Which is basically a really tall tower-like structure where guests are strapped in, taken up about a 100 feet and plunged down at high speeds. The ride slowly takes you up and suspends you there for a few seconds before taking the plunge, whereby your butt literally flies off the seat. So awesome.

Nearby Dino Park was still open, but badly maintained. The river was dirty and had clumps of i-dont-even-know-what floating in them. The dinosaur animatronics were creaky, and I think T-Rex had an exposed robotic claw, with skin peeling off it’s sides. Also their roars were not synchronised with jaw movement, so it seemed as if it was roaring with it’s mouth closed lol.

One of the worst rides was probably the ‘haunted house’. A complete RIPOFF. They should just call it ‘Dark house’ coz you couldn’t see shit inside. It was dank, smelly and there wasn’t even a fake mechanical ghost to pop out at us.

Another thing that was still open was the bumper boats and boat rides where you have to pedal to make it move. Didn’t go on those coz didn’t bring change of clothes in case we got wet.We also went on the roller coaster ride, which was a lamefest as well. Idk if it’s coz I’ve been to the ones in UK and Disneyland, so the local ones are unexciting in comparison.

Overall I was rather disappointed with the outdoor theme park. It brings back a sense of nostalgia, but they’re definitely not up to grade for today. Most of the rides were squeaky and looked like they had since the 1970s, some were closed for maintenance. It’s just sad to see such a nice theme park that used to be so grand in such a dilapidated state. Oh well. Hope the renovations are for the better!