Tag Archives: UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Street Art of Georgetown, Penang

Georgetown, Penang is best known for its jetties and street art. Named after Britain’s King George III, the inner city of Georgetown has been inscribe as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its unique architecture and cultural townscape.

A newly painted colonial building in Georgetown
A newly painted colonial building in Georgetown
Old Town, Georgetown
Old Town, Georgetown

Recently the town had a surge of excitement and interest with the emergence of mural paintings on the old walls in Georgetown. Started by Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic, the murals mostly depict children in playful and fun scenes. A trip to Georgetown can now be about finding each of these wall art.

"Little Boy with Pet Dinosaur" Ah Quee Street, by Ernest Zacharevic
Weather beaten “Little Boy with Pet Dinosaur” Ah Quee Street, by Ernest Zacharevic
“Boy on a Bike” Ah Quee Street, George Town by Ernest Zacharevic
“Boy on a Bike” Ah Quee Street by Ernest Zacharevic
"Little Children on a Bicycle" Armenian Street by Ernest Zacharevic
“Little Children on a Bicycle” Armenian Street by Ernest Zacharevic

Other artists followed Ernest’s footsteps and started creating their own work. Deaf-mute freelance artist, Louis Gan has a few of his works on various streets.

"Brother and Sister on a Swing' at Gat Lebuh Chulia by Louis Gan
“Brother and Sister on a Swing’ at Gat Lebuh Chulia
paumural
“I Want Pau!” Mural at Armenian Street

_DSC6373Because walking on 35 degrees Celcius temperature in Georgetown is not very ideal, we decided to rent a bicycle so it would be easy for us to move around.  Bicycle rentals can easily be spotted near the jetties. We got our bikes for 10 RM.

Other mural projects include the “101 Lost Kittens” project, which aims to create awareness on animal care and adopting stray animals. Below are murals along Armenian street.

Cat
Giant Cat Mural
"Giant Rat" Mural
Giant Rat Mural
Cat and Mouse
Cat and Rat

Although some of these murals have already faded, like the boy with pet dinosaur, I am positive that artists will continue to create these kinds of art work in public spaces.

 

 

The Great Wall of China at Mutianyu

The Great Wall of China is the world’s largest military structure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built from the 3rd century BC to the 17th century AD by successive Chinese Empires, from the Qin Dynasty to the Ming Dynasty, and has a total length of more than 20,000 kilometers. There are three sections of the Great Wall that are near Beijing. These are Badaling, Juyongguan, and Mutianyu. The first two are nearest in Beijing and more crowded. Mutianyu is a well-restored section of the Great Wall and the longest section open to tourists. It’s a bit  farther but significantly less crowded.  The two other sections open to tourists, Jin Shan Ling and Simatai are farthest and require full day tours. 

Mutianyu Great Mall Map
Mutianyu Great Mall Map

We booked our tour to the Great Wall through our inn. The tour includes Mutianyu Great Wall and the Ming Tombs and includes traditional Chinese lunch and an English-speaking guide.

Mutianyu Great Wall has a ski lift that can take you up to the wall, and a toboggan ride on the way down.  Otherwise, you can hike. The hike takes about 4 hours. We chose to take the ski lift and the toboggan ride down because it is fun.

Ski Lift Ride
Ski Lift Ride

greatwall1

The difficulty-level of hiking the Great Wall at Mutianyu is different in the left and right sections. The right section has steep steps and the left section is comparatively smoother characterized by an easy walk. The view of the mountains and the snake-like wall from the watch towers are a sight to behold. This is the view of the wall in early spring (March).

View from one of the watch towers
View from one of the watch towers
The Great Wall, snaking through my imagination
The Great Wall, snaking through my imagination
Mutianyu Great Wall
Mutianyu Great Wall
Me on the way to watchtower
Me on the way to watchtower

Shirakawa-go Winter Light-Up Event

The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama is a UNESCO World Heritage site and located in the mountainous region of Gifu Prefecture. The farmhouses in Shirakawa-go are built in the 合掌造り(gasshou-zukuri) style and are quite known for their unique architectural structures well-adapted to their environment. During winter, it snows heavily in this region, and the farmhouses’ steeply-sloped thatched roofs help snow to fall off. The roof looks like two hands pressed in prayer, which is what the term gasshou means.

The mountains in Shirakawa-go
The mountains in Shirakawa-go
View from the bus stop with some gasshou-style houses
View from the bus stop with some gasshou-style houses

The village of Ogimachi in Shirakawa-go has preserved these farmhouses. During the peak of winter in the weekends of January and February, the village organizes special illumination events. We were there on 1 February 2014 to witness the Winter Light-Up event.

The path leading to the Shirakawa-go Viewpoint
The path leading to the Shirakawa-go Viewpoint
Shirakawa-go during the Winter Light-Up Event
Shirakawa-go during the Winter Light-Up Event
A lit-up gashou-style house
A lit up gashou-style house
Gasshou House with candles
Gasshou-style House with candles

We stayed in J-Hoppers Hida-Takayama and booked our tour through them. The bus departs in front of JR Takayama station and reaches Shirakawa-go in about an hour. Our tour provided us with a simple snack of delicious onigiri and hot tea.

View from the highway
View from the highway

The road to Shirakawa-go offers a beautiful view of the Japanese Alps and countryside.  The snow-capped mountains are glowing in the distance.

Lovely view of the mountains going to Shirakawa-go
Lovely view of the mountains going to Shirakawa-go

After seeing the illuminated houses from the viewpoint we headed to Kanda house, one of the few houses where visitors are allowed to enter for a minimum fee. The house is like a museum which has valuable information on the history of the village and the gasshou-style houses. On the second and third floor, there are displays of farming and sericulture tools.

Inside Kanda House, where a documentary about the gasshou-style house was being played
Inside Kanda House, where a documentary about the gasshou-style houses was being played
Wooden gasshou-style house on display inside Kanda House
Wooden gasshou-style houses on display inside Kanda House
Reading up on the gasshou-style houses with this huge picture book
Reading up on the gasshou-style houses with this huge picture book
A tea to warm yourself inside Kanda house
Tea to warm yourself inside Kanda house
Farm Tools
Farm Tools
Tools for sericulture, a major industry in Shirakawa-go
Tools for sericulture, a major industry in Shirakawa-go
The center of Kanda house
The center of Kanda house
View of the village inside Kanda house
View of the village inside Kanda house

The view of Shirakawa-go during the winter light-up event is one of the most idyllic settings I have seen. I can’t wait to come back and see the village during a different season.

 

Borobudur – The World’s Largest Buddhist Temple

Although I’m not Buddhist, I’m very interested in Eastern spirituality. And so, on my third trip to Indonesia, visiting Borobudur was on top of my priority list. We arrive Yogyakarta via Air Asia from Jakarta, coming from a busy week at Bogor in Sentul City, our flight to Yogya was the start of a cultural tour of Indonesia after being stuck inside the Sentul International Convention Center for our company produced event. We booked a tour to Borobudur costing us IDR 90,000 per person, which takes us to Borobudur, the nearby Mendut Temple & Monastery both in Magelang, Central Java, and back to the city to see the Hindu Temple of Prambanan in the heart of Yogya.

We arrived Borobudur at about 6:00am, we waited a couple of minutes as the park is not yet open. During this time, I wonder about the Borobudur sunrise tour offered by the hotel nearest it, Hotel Princess Manohara. After experiencing Borobudur, I took a mental note that if I ever come back, I’ll definitely stay at the Manohara.

It had been very sunny in Jakarta that when we climb up Borobudur I was pleasantly surprised to feel the cool mountain breeze on my skin, and the breathtaking view of Mt. Merapi.

20120923-000559.jpg
Candi Borobudur
stupa.jpg
Stupas with a view of Mt. Merapi

20120923-000730.jpg
Borobudur is beautifully peaceful. The climate is ideal and I managed to complete one circumnavigation of the narrow alleys of the temple grounds. This is a sacred ground and a pilgrimage site for Buddhists and the path of circumnavigation the temple grounds as one go up leading to the highest level of enlightenment can be likened to the path to Nirvana.

Looking at the stone carvings makes me wonder about the skill of ancient people who drilled these hard stones. Carved stones of Buddhist cosmology in relief panels and some Buddha statues in different positions (cross-legged, lotus-positioned) are truly a sight to behold.

20120923-003453.jpg
Buddha Statues
20120923-003359.jpg
Relief Panels

20120923-003408.jpg

20120923-003423.jpg

Borobudur, Mendut, Prambanan Tour – IDR 90,000
Borobudur Entrance Fee – IDR 189,000
Prambanan Entrance Fee – IDR 165,200