I wanted to end my last day in Penang with something breathtaking and worthwhile. I didn’t get my desired sunset at Kek Lok Si temple so I made sure to wake up early for the sunrise this time at Penang Hill. Hoping the odds for good light would be better. Also known as Bukit Bendera, the distinguishing peaks seen from the city of George Town is easily accessible. With only around 6km from the city center to its jump-off at Air Itam, it’s one of the favorite cool escapes for the locals and tourists alike.
I was looking for a place to take night photos in Penang when an image of a beautifully lit Kek Lok Si Temple popped up on my searches. The fantasy-land like lights of the temple would offer plenty of photo opportunities especially after sunset. Reading more, I learned that there’s a lot of superlatives going for this temple. Kek Lok Si is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia and one of the largest in Southeast Asia. It has the tallest Buddhist pagoda, tallest granite pillars and the tallest statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. My interest deepened that I made sure to hop a bus at KOMTAR to Air Itam one afternoon in Penang.
We were riding a modified pick-up truck to take us to our home in Gunung Mulu National Park, the Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa. The painted sceneries of caves, forest, hornbills and more wrapping the truck got me excited on the things we may experience during our stay in this UNESCO world heritage inscribed site. It’s not easy going to this part of Sarawak, Malaysia. On air, only MASwings flies direct from either Kuching or Miri. The long arduous way is by road, boat and a little hike. And what better way to compliment a stay in this nature reserve? Be amidst Borneo’s rainforest.
The 3rd Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival held last September 27-28, 2019 finally concluded. It was not without challenges as the haze coming from Indonesia forced the organisers to move the event to an indoor venue. It may have lost its “waterfront” feel but the coming together of jazz artist from different parts of the world and sharing their expression of this eclectic genre of music remains. The heart of jazz still brims loudly at the humble MBKS Community Hall. Ironwulf.net was fortunate enough to witness this revelry and what could be a milestone for the annual event as the Philippines participate in this annual musical gathering in this lively city in Borneo.
I grew up with jazz music as one of my soundtracks of my youth. I can clearly remember beach trips with family with smooth jazz setting the mood in the air while lounging by the sand and sharing stories with siblings and parents. Kenny G, Swing Out Sisters, Style Council where blaring through cassette tape players then. Then came modern jazz artist that accompanied travels like Norah Jones, Michael Bubble and some Everything But the Girl. I may not listen to them as often lately but memories associated with them are always pleasant and strong. Music somehow makes our lives more sweeter. Memories of road trips more vivid with songs. And with much excitement I’ll be visiting Kuching, Malaysia next week for the Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival. Now on its third year this 2019, this festival brings together a round of talented jazz art from Asia and beyond on a 2 day musical festival this 27-28th of September, 2019. It would be a good opportunity to get familiar with other talents from our neighbouring countries.
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.
For those who had been reading this blog for quiet a while now knows that I love to walk around when I’m new to a place. It’s my way of orienting myself with a destination. Getting a feel and really going up close to the locals. George Town is such a pleasantly walkable city. Charming old streets adorned with street art against the beautifully aged walls. I was able to rest that afternoon when I got back from my Historical George Town tour. Revitalized after a few hours rest for my walk at this city’s Street of Harmony. I’m glad to be accompanied this time by Cebuano travel blogger Brennan of Weekend Dispatch who is now based in George Town for work. After his office duties he was glad enough to show me around.