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Published: Saturday December 14, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Saturday December 14, 2013 MYT 7:25:26 AM

'Taoist god' goes on a walkabout'

Looks easy but it isn’t: The participants taking turns to wear the ‘Tu Di Gong’ costume as they make their way around Penang island for four days on a 84km journey.

Looks easy but it isn’t: The participants taking turns to wear the ‘Tu Di Gong’ costume as they make their way around Penang island for four days on a 84km journey.

GEORGE TOWN: A group of youth is making heads turn as they walk around Penang island wearing a human-sized costume of a Taoist god.

The 22 youth, aged between 14 and 22, will be taking four days to complete the 84km journey, which began from the Chio Tian Culture and Arts Troupe Penang centre in Permatang Damar Laut, near here, at 8am yesterday.

Twenty-one of them are members of the troupe, which organised the journey, while the remaining participant is a volunteer. Several other non-members will join them along the journey for a day or two only.

The costume of Tu Di Gong (God of Fortunes and Virtues), which they take turns to wear, is a sight to behold, with its long white eye brows, moustache and beard. It weighs about 15kg.

Thong Kaw Wenn, 15, said it looked easy when she watched her teammates walking in the costume but found it tough when she had to do it herself.

She could only walk for 10 minutes before passing it on to another participant.

“At the end of the journey, the sense of achievement will overshadow everything else.”

Kelvin Lim, 16, said the journey was an activity which boosted the troupe members’ teamwork. “This is an invaluable experience since the chance to walk around the island as a team does not come by often,” he added.

Non-member Ong Cze Chee, 15, said she wanted to to experience what life had to offer.

“Although the task seems daunting, the sense of accomplishment I obtained from the journey makes me proud,” she said.

Troupe leader William Voon, 26, said he hoped that the journey would expose the participants to the difficulties of living outside without the care of parents.

“We will be walking for more than 10 hours every day and will stay overnight at a temple, a primary school and a hall,” he said.

The group completed the 24km first leg of their journey earlier than expected in Balik Pulau at 4.30pm yesterday.

Today, they will walk 21km from Balik Pulau to Batu Ferringhi from where they will trek another 18km to George Town via Tanjong Tokong tomorrow. The last day on Sunday will see them walking 21km from George Town back to Permatang Damar Laut via the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway.

The public can expect to see them play seven drums carried by a lorry accompanying them at pit stops.

This is the second consecutive year the troupe had made a round-island journey on foot. The costume, made in Taiwan, costs RM6,500.

Tags / Keywords: Family & Community, chio tian culture and arts troupe, round penang island

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