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Heritage Conference

Report of the event held in George Town 8-9 October 2009


The Heritage Conference which was held at G Hotel over two days was attended by over three hundred participants from all around the world, especially from Asia. All of us were treated to two days of a very well organized sequence of programs which were both educational and entertaining.

Heritage conferenceBesides the usual speeches, talks and case studies, we also had smaller group discussion sessions and also interesting site visits.

To top it off, both dinner functions were held at a couple of heritage buildings which were handsomely restored to their former glory: Pinang Peranakan Mansion and Suffolk House.

In the latter, we witnessed the presentation of a UNESCO Award of Distinction to Suffolk House.

For the academics, professionals, students and heritage lovers, all these were all very interesting indeed. Large buffet treats served during tea breaks and lunches were not disappointing either. Obviously the hotel had to keep up their reputation in that sense, since Penang is well known for its food.

The event was officiated by the Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng.

dr. tim curtis at the Penang  Heritage Conference
Dr. Tim Curtis

The keynote speaker was Dr. Tim Curtis, Head of Culture Unit, UNESCO Bangkok. A range of experts in architecture, legislators, administrators and also researchers presented their case studies and experience from their regions.

After such presentation, there was a discussion by a panel of more experts followed with questions from the floor.

On the first day (8th October 2009), four case studies were presented. The first two, involved two World Heritage Sites: Hoi An City in Vietnam and then Macau. Hoi An representative, Mr. Tran Van An, presented his report assisted by a translator as he spoke in Vietnamese. Nevertheless, the slides helped the audience to grasp the message that he was conveying.

As for Macau, the emphasis was more in creativity of the people there in promoting their heritage in original and new ways. Dr. Hilary du Cros showed us a few interesting examples how Macau managed to revamp their touristy products in order to move away from the typical trinkets that visitors were used to.

In the last two case studies, the success story of the restoration of Galle Fort Hotel in Sri Lanka and then, a thorough chronological report about historic city of Kyoto.

chew jetty visited during  Penang Heritage Conference
Chew Clan Jetty

Later the participants got to choose any of five different locations for site visit in George Town. We chose from Spice Walk at Little India, the Clan Jetty and Han Jiang Ancestral Temple, the Malay Mosque and Apprentice Project, Penang Heritage Trust office and Cheong Fatt Tze mansion. A fleet of buses carried participants to these locations.

nyonya dancers during Penang Heritage Conference
Nyonya Dance

That night, dinner was served with lion dance, Baba and Nyonya cultural show and some acrobatics for entertainment. What kind of cuisine would be appropriate here? It was none other than Nyonya cuisine. Perut ikan, asam pedas, sambal and also otak-otak accompanied the rice. Desserts were heavenly nyonya kuih and bubur cha-cha. We enjoyed the night at Pinang Peranakan Mansion very much.

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Day 2 of the Penang Heritage Conference

Day two of the Penang Heritage Conference with interesting talks about sustainable cultural practices, heritage visits and more:

Go to the second day of the conference.




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