Quan Yin, The Goddess of Mercy Temple

Smoky and dimly lit, the centuries-old Goddess of Mercy Temple in Penang’s Georgetown is a mysterious and exotic place to explore.

The temple is dedicated to Quan Yin, the Buddhist goddess who comforts the sick, the lost, the senile and the unfortunate.

What better place to start a photography tour? Especially a tour designed to teach this lost soul how to use her first “grown-up” DSLR camera, the impressive-looking Nikon 7000.

The tutor/teacher/guide was Dave Hagerman, who recently moved to Penang from Kuala Lumpur with his wife, food writer Robyn Eckhardt, who blogs at EatingAsia. (More on this formidable husband and wife team later.)

Dave helped me capture some great shots, taught me about light and framing. It was an amazing morning. I hope to get more tuition from him in Chiang Mai, a place he visits often.

Quan Ying Temple, Penang

Goddess of Mercy Temple, Penang

Goddess of Mercy Temple, Georgetown

Goddess of Mercy Temple, Georgetown


You can see some of Dave’s pictures from the same morning on his SkyBlueSky blog.

The temple is such an amazing place I went back there in the afternoon, without Dave. It was one of the last days of the Chinese Hungry Ghost Month and I found some actors preparing for that night’s performance in a makeshift theatre in front of the temple.

I just love the contrast between the old and the new world here


And under the theatre …

This post is part of the Budget Travelers’ Sandbox‘s Travel Photo Thursday. You can see more TPT posts here.

Postscript: I snapped this fearsome photo of Dave in a nearby wet market. He was teaching me about light again. I call this pic “the unsmiling assassin”. He’s actually not as scary as he seems in this pic!

Dave Hagerman Photography tour

Dave Hagerman, the unsmiling assassin

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8 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. These are excellent photos!! Love the monk with Crocs! πŸ™‚
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..Tongue Thai’ed: Taking a Cooking Class in Thailand

  2. Love these photos. I’m part Chinese and have very fond memories of going to the Chinese temple to light incense for loved ones and pay respect to Quan Yin. I loved the ritual of lighting incense and bowing to each of the Buddhas.
    Tracey @ Don’t Mess with Mama recently posted..Ridiculous Consequences for Kids

  3. Muza-chan says:

    Great photos πŸ™‚
    Muza-chan recently posted..Japanese traditions, Bon Odori Dance

  4. Sara W says:

    LOVE your pictures! Thank you so so much for sharing.

  5. Tracy says:

    Great pictures. My favourite is the ‘Georgetown-018’ – the lighting, colours and contrasts are perfect.

    I think the lesson was well worth it. I didn’t realise who your teacher was until reading this – you were telling me about the lesson and showed me his pic but now the penny has dropped. His photos are amazing!
    Tracy recently posted..Beers and sandcastles: Sunset in Batu Ferringhi

  6. Nancie says:

    I love this temple. I’ve taken a lot of photos there the two times I have been in Penang.

    I did a photo walk with Dave last winter in CM, and loved every moment of it. Dave’s a great teacher, and yes that photo really does not show his true character :)………….(at least to the paying customers) haha. You took some great shots.

  7. jade says:

    I really want to take a photography tour- looks like this one was really great.
    jade recently posted..Nan Madol: Because Stone Lasts Longer than Wood

  8. I would love to do a photography tour/ class like this.

    Your “contrast” photo is great.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Russian Cocaine in Buenos Aires?

  9. Laurel says:

    Love the light and colors in your photos. A photography tour sounds like so much fun! Also love the name of your last photo – spoken like a true artist.
    Laurel recently posted..View from Panorama Ridge, Banff National Park

  10. Eileen Ludwig says:

    Great photowalk inside – my inside pictures with artificial light need more working knowledge.

  11. Maria says:

    You captured it all – architecture, religion, culture, people… kudos!
    Maria recently posted..Wheels Down – Part II

  12. LOVVVEEE your photos. Beautiful. Look forward to more beautiful photos as you get to know your DSLR. πŸ™‚
    Cheryl Howard recently posted..From The Roof of Milan’s Duomo.

  13. Snap says:

    Great shots and location! Seriously makes me want to get a new (real) camera. Love the Reverse Bucket List too…I always repeat mine to myself when I ‘m flying in a plane πŸ˜‰
    Snap recently posted..Angel’s Juice

  14. Ayngelina says:

    Love love love the photos, you really paint the picture.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Ididamile and I want more

  15. such incredible photos – brava! he is obviously an excellent educator – and i love the photo you took of him!

    my fave? the last one. it’s so hidden. πŸ™‚
    wandering educators recently posted..La Tavola Marche: Growing Strawberries in Italy

  16. Great photos! I love the first one of the lady reaching up.
    Christy @ Ordinary Traveler recently posted..Tips for Taking a Road Trip around Europe

  17. These are exceptional photos πŸ™‚ I especially like the candid portraits – you really captured these well.
    Nomadic Samuel recently posted..Girl | Reflection | Chicago, USA | Travel Photo

  18. Andrea says:

    Beautiful photos! I love all the great fabric textures
    Andrea recently posted..When Money Gets Wasted on the Road

  19. Grace says:

    So I didn’t realize you can find so many folks napping under the theater! Boy is it roomy under the stage. Cool photos!
    Grace recently posted..Taking a moment for The Con and all things Nerdawesome!

  20. Christina says:

    I especially like the candle pictures. They really capture the atmosphere. Made me feel like I was in one of those beautiful temples again.

  21. Angela says:

    Seems like the student learned the tricks, great shots πŸ™‚
    Angela recently posted..Getting lost in Granada’s Alhambra, in pursuit of the Moorish connection

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