The island of Basilan interestingly has two major cities. There’s Isabela de Basilan, now the center of commerce and trade. Then there’s, Lamitan, the government seat of Basilan province. In 2017, the provincial capital was transferred from Isabela de Basilan to Lamitan City as it is formally part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). In terms of tourism, one of the main highlight for a visit in this city is to learn more about the Yakan tribe, one of the first original inhabitants of the island of Basilan.
As one of the most populous city in Malaysia, the City of Kuching seemed provincial and laid back despite the city developments. I like those kind of cities where it doesn’t feel rushed yet has the infrastructure comfort of urban living. Sarawak River threading through the city, adding a steady flow of balance between tranquility and hustle. We had a chance to see more of Kuching when friends from Place Borneo gave us a little tour to compliment our own wanderings.
Prior to visiting Kuching, the capital of Sarawak is under my radar of places to visit. I had an initial impression it would be similar to other cities in Borneo like Kota Kinabalu. Surprisingly, the city along the meandering Sarawak River has a different vibe. With my usual practice of exploring new cities on foot, Kuching felt more like a counterpart of George Town in this side of Malaysia. The vibrant and artsy streets, affordable and tasty food and the easy going lifestyle of the people.
The gorgeous colonial city of George Town consists of more than 12,000 old buildings and structures of varying Asian and European influences. From Charming shophouses, jetties and temples, colourful Indian temples, Muslim Mosque and British colonial government offices earning its place under the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 2008. It’s a real delight to stroll around the city and feel being transported back in the old world of Penang. In 2012, Penang municipality decided to breath life into this old walls by incorporating street art into public spaces. While I love street art, done wrong can make the place messy. But seems like George Town found just the right artist for the job.
If you’ve ever wondered how the shapes of the islands, the elevation of peaks, and the depths of seas are measured and translated into easily readable maps that common people can understand, it’s all about the science of geodesy and datums. Even before Google Maps ever existed, surveyors and scientists used datums or geodetic reference points to collectively gather information on the lay of the land and sea in longitude and latitudes. That is why I had much appreciation to finally visit the Luzon Datum of 1911 site in Marinduque. A pivotal reference point used to triangulate networks of different datums in the country. It is, literally the center of the Philippines in a geodetic sense.
One thing I really like about Taiwan is how bike-friendly the country is. Bikeways are some of the main attractions in Taichung. Still at Houli district coming from the Chungse Tourist Flower Market, we found ourselves near a horse ranch and city park where there are several bike rental services in the area. The area is part of the Houfeng Bikeway (also called Hou-feng Bikeway). An extensive 4.5 km bike path running along an old mountain railway. It offers a unique experience of varying sceneries from the country side, the longest railway tunnel and a steel bridge.
I was so excited in my first visit to Penang. I’ve heard so many good things about this island state, particularly Georgetown. Much like Malacca, it’s a known food haven for gourmands and a place to stir up your creative juices with numerous street art in the city. I came early morning with little sleep since I had an early flight in the morning from Kuala Lumpur. Before coming here, I made sure I had arrangements for a Historic Georgetown tour via KKday. My hotel check-in time was after lunch so I decided to kill time with a morning tour after leaving my baggage at the hotel.