August 14, 2011

Boats amongst poles used for aqua cultivation

Location: Xiapu, Fujian, China (23° 46' 20" N, 117° 2' 47" E)
Date: 14 December 2008; 1.50pm
Camera: Canon 400D with Canon 70-200 f/4 L IS Lens

These days there are not too many exquisite places in China which are not swamped by tourists. More often than not, fabulous destinations are crowded with China tourists rather than foreigners. The main reason is of course, Chinese are getting wealthier and is more prepared to spend money traveling around their own country. On top of that, it is difficult for them to travel outside of China, without being part of a tour group or on official business. Another reason for such a phenomenon is the speed of news spreading via internet- and China has the world’s biggest internet population; hence news and reviews of any exciting new destinations will be known by many very quickly. An example is a small coastal town, Xiapu, in northern Fujian. Apart from some photography enthusiastic from Hong Kong and Taiwan, really only Chinese know of this sleepy town. The town’s main attraction to tourists is the scenery around the few coastal villages within a 20km radius. Such villages engaged in various aquaculture activities such as seaweed and oyster cultivation, fishing and so on. They are pretty and charming especially during the various harvest seasons with all sorts of activities on the coastlines. During the high season, droves of Chinese photography enthusiasts flock to this town, using it as a base- and there are only Chinese. Very, very few foreigners would even have heard of this place- so much so that there are only 1 or 2 hotels in town that are officially registered/allowed to offer accommodation to foreigners.


August 10, 2011

Kek Lok Si, South East Asia’s largest Buddhist temple is a Penang landmark

Location: Kek Lok Si, Penang, Malaysia (5° 23′ 58.29″ N, 100° 16′ 25.43″ E)
Date: 8 August 2011; 11.20am
Camera: HP Compact Camera SB360

Georgetown of Penang together with Melaka was awarded a UNESCO Heritage status, both being dubbed "Historical Cities of the Straits of Malacca ’s a couple of years ago. The town’s main claim to the UNESCO status was its amazing web of still enormous number of colonial buildings, churches, government buildings, temples and still-inhabited pre-war shops and houses as well as art-deco structures. The town is a living testimony to the multi-cultural heritage and tradition of Asia, and European colonial influences. In the “old-town” area, which incidentally is still the major chunk of Georgetown, one can spot an architectural and cultural gem in virtually any corner one turns, be it beautifully and lovingly refurbished heritage mansions or living clan temples and schools. The amazing thing about Georgetown is that it is a truly living old town where in very few exceptions, people still lives a normal life in these old buildings and structures. Life still goes on unchanged for the majority of the inhabitants despite the UNESCO award; unlike Melaka where one feels a distinctly commercialised and touristy atmosphere as businesses cash in the UNESCO status.

Penang is not only Georgetown as there are many other interesting tourist destinations on the island, including Kek Lok Si (Temple of Supreme Bliss), the largest Buddhist temple in South East Asia. Furthermore Penang is truly a food heaven, where its distinctly Penang Hawker Food is famed all over Asia. I will have a couple more posts on Penang in the next few days.