Peak Nam Toong (碧南堂)

Peak Nam Toong Temple

Religion has been a source of inspiration for making of remarkable architectures and artworks, but the ideas need the devotion of followers to turn into a reality. Peak Nam Toong (Chinese name: 碧南堂), one of the most beautiful Chinese temples in Sabah, is a perfect example of such outcome.

The gate, door and incense burner in the middle is like a straight line leading to the main shrine
Peak Nam Toong looks like a palace in the heaven.

Chinese people are highly adaptive and willing to adjust their lifestyle to blend into the local society, but their cultures and religion are the cores that always remain intact. Therefore, a visit to a Chinese temple is a good starting point to see the dragon in their hearts.

The temple and pagoda of Peak Nam Toong (碧南堂)
Peak Nam Toong (碧南堂) is surrounded by houses and situated 300 feet away from the highway, but its towering 9-tier pagoda can been seen from miles away.

Even if you are a non-believer or atheist, your world view and values are more or less influenced by religions. For example, the karma, you wish good people go to heaven and your ex goes to hell right.

Family taking photos at Peak Nam Toong
Peak Nam Toong temple is really photogenic and you can find many excellent spots for taking pictures.

History of Peak Nam Toong

Visitors would be impressed by the magnificent golden temple and 9-tier pagoda of Peak Nam Toong, so it’s hard to believe that Peak Nam Toong was just a humble stilt house in the water village of Tanjung Aru Beach about half a century ago.

Front arch of Peak Nam Toong
In 1972, Peak Nam Toong was a small wooden building in water village and located about 300 feet away from the shore.

However, this first temple in the sea was so popular that it had to expand to accommodate more devotees. The temple was moved to Taman Fortuna less than 5 KM from Kota Kinabalu City and operated in 1984, this time it’s upgraded with bricks and cement structure. In the beginning, the new location was mostly empty ground. Now the temple is fully surrounded by residential housing.

Left: the pagoda of Peak Nam Toong; Right: The relief sculpture of five dragons
Left: the 9-level pagoda of Peak Nam Toong; Right: The relief sculpture of five dragons

Wherever Chinese lives, there is a temple. In the bygone era of North British colonization, thousands of Chinese sailed across the South China Sea to work as labours and farmers in Sabah. Away from their hometown and working in a foreign country, religion gave these ancestor pioneers from China some hopes to protect themselves against insecurity.

Tour package to climb Mount Kinabalu
Watch the video for a tour at Peak Nam Toong

Most of the Chinese immigrants are Hakka and Hokkien from Guangdong and Fujian provinces respectively, so naturally Guanyin (观音), Tua Pek Kong (大伯公) and Guang Ze Zun Wang (广泽尊王) are the three most common deities being worshiped in Sabah.

Lion decorations for the Chinese New Year
Lion decorations for the Chinese New Year. The place is clean and peaceful.

The Golden Temple

Taoism has a vivid vision of how a heaven looks like, so their temple is a mini replica of the palace. Peak Nam Toong fully incorporates the design of traditional Chinese architecture. The auspicious red and gold form the main theme colours. The area between the arch and temple are guarded by dozen of dragons and lions.

Day and night view of Peak Nam Toong (碧南堂)
Day and night view of Peak Nam Toong (碧南堂)

The most prominent structure of Peak Nam Toong is the 9-tier pagoda, one of the tallest in Sabah. For Chinese, a 9-tier pagoda is a Feng Shui tower that can transfigure negative energy. Pagoda is a symbol of stability and wealth too because it was used to be a place for safekeeping of sacred relics, literature and treasures. This 200-feet-tall pagoda is a spectacular sight at night when its colourful LED light glows.

Peak Nam Toong in daytimePeak Nam Toong in night time
You can move the slider on photo to compare the day and night scenes of Peak Nam Toong

The front of Peak Nam Toong is facing at the direction of the sea. For people who’ve never been to a Chinese temple, there would be many things that pique their interest. Every elements in the sculptures, murals, motif, reliefs, statues, all have a story or meaning.

Sculptures of 12 Chinese Zodiac
Sculptures of 12 Chinese Zodiac. They all look very rich.

Peak Nam Toong welcomes all visitors, even to non-followers who are respectful. The colourful statues of 12 Zodiac animals and Eight Immortals (八仙) at the compound are favourite spots of visitors for taking photos. For praying to the deities, the opening hours of the main prayer hall is from 6am to 6pm daily.

The Eight Immortals (八仙) in Chinese mythology.
The Eight Immortals (八仙) in Chinese mythology. They represent eight main categories of people.

Under financial constraint, the construction of new Peak Nam Toong would be impossible without the support by the community through fund-raising, donation, and sponsorship. Just a trivia. When deciding the scale of the temple, the committees determined to go grand, as Taoism in Sabah needs a majestic landmark to project their faith and status.

Left: door of Peak Nam Toong; Right: wishing ribbons booth
Left: door of Peak Nam Toong; Right: booth for hanging wish banners

Main Prayer Hall

Taoism is a polytheistic religion, so there are about 16 deities housed in three altars and different areas of Peak Nam Toong. Sitting in the middle altar is Guang Ze Zun Wang (广泽尊王 / 圣王公), the main patron deity of Peak Nam Toong, together with his wife, Miao Yin Xian Fei (妙应仙妃) and 13 children, Thirteen Taibao (十三太保). You can find 24 drawing on the wall of the main prayer hall about the journey of Guang Ze Zun Wang to becoming a deity.

Shrine of King Guangze (广泽尊王) in the middle
Altar of Guang Ze Zun Wang (广泽尊王) in the middle. He existed in Nan’an, Quanzhou, Fujian Province for over a thousand years.

The altar of Qing Shui Zu Shi (清水祖师) is at the right and Guanyin (观音菩萨) is at the left. They are accompanied by other deities such as Goddess Tian Hou (天后娘娘), Qi Xian Niang Niang (七仙娘娘), Lord Guan (关圣大帝), Tua Pek Kong (大伯公), Nezha (哪吒三太子), Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva (地藏王菩萨) and Daode Tianzun (太上老君).

Shrine of Qingshui (清水祖师) at the right
Altar of Qing Shui (清水祖师)

Each deity acts like an officer in heaven and has different roles and ranks. Most of them can answer general prayers about wealth, health, relationships, and some can handle specific requests like academic achievement and getting a baby. (Tip: For money matters, ask Tua Pek Kong.)

The shrine of Guanyin (观音菩萨) at the left
The altar of Guanyin (观音菩萨)

Usually devotees pray to Guang Ze Zun Wang to wish for blessing and a peaceful life. Guang Ze Zun Wang also has the power to ward off the evil spirits, and able to travel between heaven and hell. There are 13 Guang Ze Zun Wang temples in Sabah.

Workship on the birthday of Qingshui (清水祖师)
Praying on the birthday of Qing Shui (清水祖师). Note the three altars in the hall.

Taoism believes that kind-hearted human can transform into a deity, if she / he practices Taoism and does a lot of charitable works to help the people. Many deities were used to be a Taoist or legendary figure who is deeply respected as a philanthropist or hero.

Events & Celebrations

Peak Nam Toong would organise special celebrations on important dates to pay homage to the deities. If you enjoy watching vibrant cultural events, you could check out the following grand events:

Chinese New Year celebration at Peak Nam Toong
Chinese New Year celebration and stage performance at Peak Nam Toong
  1. Pray to Tian Gong (拜天公)
  2. Birthdays of Guang Ze Zun Wang (广泽尊王), Qing Sui Zhu Shi (清水祖师), Guanyi (观音)
  3. Hungry Ghost Festival (孟兰节)
Devotees at the main prayer hall
Devotees pray to King Guangze in the main prayer hall

Some events come with entertainment programmes including dragon, unicorn and lion dance, music and dance performances, grand parade, offering of various popular Chinese dishes to the deities, etc.

The glowing pagoda of Peak Nam Toong
The glowing pagoda of Peak Nam Toong

You can follow their social media or contact the temple for updates on their upcoming activities.
Facebook: peaknamtoongkk
Phone: +60 88-221616

Thank you Kapitam Lee Hing Boo (甲必丹李宏武) for sharing the stories of Peak Nam Toong.

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu City, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

10 thoughts on “Peak Nam Toong Temple

  1. Although you got some points there but you have to remember that children’s mind aren’t as complex as us. Another way of saying it is that: They read the story, accept it and be happy. They don’t question stuffs as much as we do so I bet the points you raised never even crossed their minds one bit 🙂

    By the way, Sabah got Popular now? Yay! Where is it? 😀

  2. Remmember hansel and grete from grimm’s tales, well they pushed the witch into the oven!! well thats murder, but its ok in children story land. i guess the moral is, read it to the kids, get em to sleep

  3. that’s true that children are not that complex as us. but we should not underestimate the influence. their brain is like a sponge, trying to form a behaviour pattern based on the knowledge and message they got daily. they also use the characters in the stories as role models. we have to make sure they pick the right examples.

    yes, the thinking that i mentioned that may not cross their minds, but they have silently accept these pattern as the correct attitude for their life (they can’t tell if it is right or wrong). that’s why it is not ok to let children watch violence movies, though we think they are too young to understand the cruel world.

    you also need to remember, for us the adult, it is a bedtime story. but for kids, it is a morale lesson and this has long lasting effect on them. this story forms a blueprint for them to judge what is right, what is wrong. 🙂 sorry ah, me very serious on this coz i think this is a serious issue. in fact, the Cinderella story and its variants have been criticized by many modern educators.

    The Popular bookstore is on 5th floor of Centre Point Sabah.

  4. but Cinderella can cook and clean! Has pretty face, so stay home become trophy wife! No one else sees but the prince charming.

  5. i don’t know where to post this one coz it is not a comment actually. I am going to mount kinabalu this friday with 30 UMS students. Just to test my 12x digital camera.. and of course, celebrating kong xi fa cai at mount kinabalu.

    still need 8 people. If you want to go with us, you can take that place. i already paid the laban rata hostel.The rental double already =(,

    It cost RM 150 include transport no meal. you intrested, contact me at 0178151519.

    Anyway, i don’t mind if you delete this one ;p

  6. Ehh….. wondering anyone going going to Mt Kinabalu somewhere March or April ???? I might want to go for ……. climb the Mt again to feel the Sunrise on top and …. ofcoz … Pictures ….

  7. Tea – N, it is not the world has gone insane, its your mind has gone insane.

    The world is nothing else than what you an I vison on.

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