What Made Our 2019 Great?

idiscover team

What Made Our 2019 Great?

Wait, is it 2020 already? Excuse us as we are still recovering — and we mean this in the most positive way possible — from the whirlwind that was 2019. From exploring and mapping many more heritage hoods in Asia, to co-curating exhibitions and accepting awards (thank you!), our team hasn’t really had the time to sit still. And we are very grateful for that; after all, our busy schedules mean that you guys love what we do as much as we love doing it! 

As we are gearing up for 2020 — from the looks of it, this year isn’t going to be any quieter — we would like to take a moment to look back at what 2019 brought us. It was difficult to narrow it all down to just a few bullet points, but we managed! Without further ado, here are our seven highlights of last year: 


1. The new iDiscover App wins three awards

idiscover sai kung town app

Our app got a makeover and we are super proud of the result. And what’s more, our efforts didn’t go unnoticed! The W³ Awards, which celebrates digital excellence, gave us a silver award in their ‘Mobile Apps/Sites-Travel for Mobile Sites & Apps’ category, DFA Design for Asia Awards gave us a bronze trophy, we received a Certificate of Merit from the Hong Kong ICT Awards in the ‘Smart Tourism’ category. 


2. We explored 12 new historic neighbourhoods in Asia 

idiscover malaysia butterworth map

That’s 200 authentic shops, cafés, temples, and other sites mapped, their stories largely untold. We like to explore places that are lesser-known and off-the-beaten-track. One example is Butterworth, the often overlooked Penang neighbourhood at the ‘other side’ of the water. A bit more raw and rough than the charming heritage gem of Georgetown, Butterworth is a multicultural melting pot where the spirit of old Malaysia is still very much present. We joined forces with community-focused urban regeneration organisation ThinkCity and local illustrator Valen Lim to find out what makes this place so special. 

north point

North Point in Hong Kong is another old neighbourhood well off-the-tourist-radar but packed with so many interesting stories waiting to be told. Together with the Hong Kong Institute of Architectural Conservationists (HKICON) we won a grant from the Development Bureau to map the hood’s hidden heritage gems. Thanks to a bunch of young creative spirits, who added their magic touch to the project, we were able to present our finds into a really cool exhibition at PMQ. Curious? Read some of our North Point stories here


3. We created our very own Hong Kong Board Game

Hong Kong Family Board Game

We love board games! That’s why we jumped on the opportunity to work with the fabulous folks of People On Board to create our own board game, which we launched at the Hong Kong Book Fair. We can now share Hong Kong’s history, culture and insider favourites in the most playful way possible. Wonder how we captured the spirit of the Fragrant Harbour in a game? Or what makes a good board game? People on Board’s founder Thomas Wong tells you all about it here.


4. Our high school discovery project was a great success

For one semester, we worked with a group of 15 students of Hong Kong Academy — an international school located in the middle of Sai Kung town — to map their own neighbourhood. For 8 weeks, they explored its small alleyways, interviewed and photographed locals and created their own walking route for the Sai Kung Map & App. Well beyond the comfort of their classroom, this project was an immersive learning experience for all involved: “different, caring, inspirational, exciting and fun,” is the feedback we got. The students even got a speaking slot at the Hong Kong Business of Design Week!

Looking for a nice outing for Chinese New Year? Click here to download our app to discover our new Sai Kung route. 


5. We mapped for Cultural Diversity in Myanmar

UNESCO Myanmar asked us to map diversity in the city through the eyes of youth. We got a group of Yangon youngsters from different cultural backgrounds together to zoom in on the multicultural neighbourhood of Sanchaung. We asked them to show us their favourite places to see, eat, pray and play. The result is an illustrated map and a storytelling walking route for our app. Created, designed and powered by locals, expertly executed by the star team of social enterprise Doh Eain. Stay tuned, soon you’ll see the map as a mural under the Myaynigone flyover. For now, download the iDiscover App here to explore Sanchaung and more historic Yangon Neighbourhoods. 


6. We organised the ‘People of Galle’ exhibition in a VOC spice warehouse

Galle Fort is a spiritual place where churches, temples, and mosques are all in the same street, and people from all faiths live together in peace. “Galle Fort is unique. We are strongly tied across faiths,” as Reverend Lakmal Wijeratne, Pastor of the Christian Reformed Church in Galle so aptly puts it. A message that has never been more important in Sri Lanka, especially after the terrible Easter bombings. 

We worked with the passionate people of the Galle Heritage Foundation to tell the stories we found in the streets of this unique, multicultural, multi-faith heritage town; stories of compassion, creation, pleasure, profession, reflection and passion. And it is not every day that you get the chance to exhibit in a 17th century VOC spice warehouse! A joint initiative of the Dutch Embassy in Sri Lanka and 5 leading hotels in Galle Fort. Read some of our favourite stories here


7. We celebrated 115 years of the Hong Kong Tram

Celebrating the 115th anniversary of Hong Kong Tramways 香港電車 brought us a little glimmer of positivity amidst the protests in Hong Kong. We joined hands with local Instagrammers Jeremy Cheung and Kevin Mak to co-created an open-air exhibition at 10 tram stops across districts. The objective? To showcase the beauty along the tram tracks and to share insider stories behind 10 neighbourhood stores. While the exhibition has ended, you can still find the stories here

And that’s it for our 2019 roundup! Thanks again for your continuous support. Without your encouragement, there would be no iDiscover! We are very much looking forward to continuing on our mission to #KeepHeritageAlive and #MapWhatMatters in Asia’s heritage cities in 2020! Keep your eyes peeled on our App and follow us on Facebook and Instagram, because we have many exciting projects in the pipeline. Here’s to an adventurous, fruitful and inspiring new decade. Cheers!

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