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The standard Iban mat is made of bemban, a white-flowering reed of the arrowroot family (Donax spp) that grows in swampy places. The village women tend the plants, and allocate appropriate harvesting rights to the mat-makers. Suitable lengths are cut, then the shiny outer skin is stripped off; this is the working material. Read the rest of this entry »

Kuching is a perfect destination for a traveller to start exploring Sarawak in Borneo, especially if you travel with children and are aware of responsible travel.

Kuching  is a nice town offering a wide range of good museum – maybe among the best in Malaysia -, nice heritage buildings from the 19th century, wide and safe sidewalks that allow you to discover the place slowly  – everything is at a walking distance –  and the best sunset I have ever seen in Malaysia

Kuching giant spider BakoNature and wilderness – proboscis monkeys, orang-outan, turtles,birds, big spiders..- are easily accessible at less than one hour, as well as nice and quiet beaches. And no leeches waiting for your blood, that’s great! 

The place offers also many opportunities to learn about the indigenous communities of Sarawak.

Check out the 2 posts we already published :

The Society Atelier, which conducts research and promotes the traditional craft of Sarawak, especially weaving. Now you can even have your lunch in the beautiful bungalow.

The Tun Jugah Fondation, Kuching, Sarawak : a must see museum for textile lovers especially for the indigenous ikat weaving of the Iban, called Pua Kumbu.

Check out our selection of useful links before I finish my writing about Kuching. Read the rest of this entry »

GT-Armenian stWhen asked 15 years ago about conservation efforts of historic Georgetown ,  Salma Khoo, director of Areca Books – a heritage and historical books publisher based in Penang – would answer, “What really matters to Penangites is food; they simply take their heritage for granted”.

In July 2008, international recognition was given to Penang when George Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site; completely transforming local perception. Melaka (Malacca) and George Town (GT) are jointly inscribed on the list as “The Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca [where] the influences of Asia and Europe have endowed the towns with a specific multicultural heritage that is both tangible and intangible. The two towns constitute a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia. Both towns bear testimony to a living multi-cultural heritage and tradition of Asia, where the many religions and cultures met and coexisted”.

This recognition is an essential milestone for the handful of Penangites who have strived for years for the preservation of the tangible and intangible heritage of GT. Read the rest of this entry »

Take a stroll through the heart of George Town and immerse yourself in the Asian cultural blend

GT-encens burnerThe “Street of Harmony”, a one-kilometer trail designed by the Penang Heritage Trust (PHT, Heritage guides of Penang) is a good place to begin to experience the religious and cultural coexistence of Georgetown.

You can follow the trail on your own with the very clear and informative map (World Heritage Site Map of George Town) published in October 08 by Areca Books, or ask for a guided tour at the PHT office (about 50RM/hour).

The trails leads you through narrow streets framed by buildings representing the major world religions – Mosques, Hindu, Taoist and Buddhist temples, Anglican and Catholic churches – and rows of old shop-houses. It also takes you through the different communities and trade quarters, some still existing and alive like Little India; or those immortalised through streets plaques: Armenian street, Chulia street, Aceh street… Two other self guided heritage trails are available; the Historic Enclave walk and the Colonial Heritage walk. Check at the PHT office or on their website for the guided tours available. Read the rest of this entry »

Meet local artisans and craftspersons and support Georgetown’s intangible cultural heritage

Incense maker in Gorge TownOne of my children’s favourite activities when we visit Asian cities is to watch artisans in their workshops. Most of the time we observe – after asking permission – and then we discuss the craft at hand with the craftsperson. We can easily spend one hour in a workshop. In George Town it is even possible to return home with an illustrated brochure to remind us of the craft process and the story of the craftsperson. These brochures have been designed and illustrated by some of GT’s students involved in the Anak-Anak Kota (children of the city) project undertaken by Arts-Ed in collaboration with Penang Heraitage Trust (PHT). These traditional trades – joss stick maker, signboard engraver, beaded shoes cobbler, goldsmith – are also located on the World Heritage Site Map of Georgetown (Areca book publisher).

Read the rest of this entry »

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