I saw many different religious buildings while in Penang. The one that I thought was particularly interesting was the Burmese Buddhist temple. Here’s a photo of one of he main Buddhas with Kate in the photo to show scale.
The first thing that stood out was the fact that the temple was instructive to the visitor. Many painted panels showed the story of the Buddha through his many trials and spiritual accomplishments. This was starkly different from all of the other religious buildings which had no such instruction. Not only did you have the painting, but there was a descriptive title plaque. Sort of like stained glass that you see in churches that tell Christ’s story, only with descriptions.
The second thing was its global approach. In many parts of the temple complex there were Buddhas or plaques representing the countries of the world where Burmese Buddhism (or maybe just Buddhism) is primarily practiced. Definitely a feeling of inclusiveness even though most countries went unrepresented. Again, this was a stark contrast to the other religious buildings.
Lastly, there were practicing monks that would give one a blessing. At the Thai Buddhist temple across the street, the monks asked for money. In the Chinese Buddhist temples, there was considerable commerce going on with candles and incense for sale. At the Burmese place, the gift shop was down the hall and off to the side. You get the idea.