Cape Town colorful murals, street art & Woodstock Exchange. Off to Shanghai, Cebu, HK!

hongdae seoul cat cafe, cat's attic

Life has not been crawling at a snail’s pace lately: I’ve been overwhelmed with dream jobs and trips this year. Bear with me, as I put together coverage from my trips to Africa and Asia. In this post, I’ll give you a tour of Cape Town’s colorful art in the Woodstock district.

But first, announcing my next destinations. I’m going back to Hong Kong, and for the first time, I’ll be in Cebu and Shanghai! I’m working on a number of travel projects, including a partnership with a new hotel group. I’m also doing a major network TV shoot in Hong Kong, appearing on-camera as host and also arranging the production.

Finally, whenever my filmmakers and I have a moment to breathe, we’ll capture stories about Asia subcultures for you. If you have tips for places to visit, especially in Shanghai and Cebu, please leave me a comment. (Above, I’m in front of the Cat’s Living cat cafe in Hongdae, Seoul.)

graffiti abstract cat drawing

Now, let’s flash-back to my first time in Africa. Archbishop Desmond Tutu described post-apartheid South Africa as a “Rainbow Nation.” His words describe Cape Town’s Woodstock district particularly well. This neighborhood has developed from an inner-city slum into a colorful art haven. Locals live next to design studios, and in homes decorated by international artists.

woodstock murals art tours, rainbow nation

Juma Mkwela took my team and me on a Woodstock art walking tour. He came to South Africa from Zimbabwe, and was a victim of the 2008 xenophobic attacks. Juma turned this tragedy into an impetus for change: he now uses art to educate children, and inspire social development in disadvantaged areas.

woodstock district locals children

Not long ago, Woodstock was run-down with crime and drugs. In 2011, a local artist called Freddy Sam launched a revival project, aiming to bring pride and color back into the community. Today, Woodstock is a trendy hub with homes painted by dozens of international artists, mainly with messages of peace and love.

evil bart simpson graffiti

Using giant walls and buildings as canvases, these artists — coming from countries like Canada, UK, and China — created art in a mix of creative styles. We spotted what looks like an evil Bart Simpson. (Photography by Melissa Rundle, Eric Bergemann and La Carmina.)

elephant eye painting, woodstock

Many paid tribute to Africa, by depicting animals such as the ones we saw at Aquila Safari. An elephant eye stares out from this wall.

dog spraypaint art, cape town

Pets are a popular motif. This dog painting integrates with the existing materials of exposed brick and cracked walls.

JAZ not eating mural

Some of the works are provocative. Argentinian artist JAZ made this “Not Eating” urban mural, showing a big cat devouring a man’s head.

argentina street artist jaz, eating man

Here’s another version by JAZ, with colors that match the rust of the pole in front. Juma told us that these murals revitalized the area, and created a sense of pride in the community.

cute elephants urban art

The artists get permission to paint the walls, and work with residents to create a design. Many incorporate portraits of the homeowners, or elements that reflect their personalities. I suppose I’d live in this Victorian home with cute pastel elephants on the front.

One Heart One Love mural, Boamistura

Apartheid only ended in 1994, and locals still remember how it loomed over their lives. In the spirit of Nelson Mandela, many chose to paint messages of tolerance. One of my favorites is this “One Heart, One Love” mural by Boamistura, a group of five Madrid artists.

I’m dressed rather internationally: a rainbow lion t-shirt from Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, leggings from Hong Kong’s Izzue, a fuzzy jacket from Peace Now Japan, and a scarf from San Francisco’s Chinatown.

cern new york artist, cape town cat house

The “most fabulous” award goes to New York’s Cern, who made this purple marvel starring the homeowner’s deceased white cat. I like how he used the curve of the gate to make an elephant’s forehead and trunk.

vampire bat cat painting

Juma walked with us all around Woodstock, pointing out hidden works and talking about their inspiration. Colors and cute faces peeked out from alleyways.

capetown buildings painted with art

Andy Warhol would give a thumb’s up to this wall of product labels.

woodstock district, cape town neighborhood

The Woodstock art initiative has truly uplifted the district. Children help out with the painting, and locals say they’re proud of their decorated homes.

rainbow lion statue

What a coincidence: this segmented rainbow lion statue perfectly matches my Thailand t-shirt! Just by walking around and interacting with the designs, I felt uplifted. I’m a big supporter of using art as a means for positive change.

rhinos anti poaching mural

I could sense that the murals were made with passion. Some had important messages of anti-poaching; this one reminds us that hundreds of rhinos are still killed each year for their horns.

cape town house mural, Yumanizumu

Some works were black and white, and abstract. This intricate design is by Yumanizumu of Japan.

giant bees attacking girl

Others encourage you to pose and have fun. Help, I’m being attacked by giant bees!

israeli artist wall painting

Quite a few hint at the tumultuous history of Cape Town. Woodstock is next to District 6, where 60,000 people of all ethnicities lived together until they were relocated by force in the 1970s. Today, District Six is razed and empty.

Interesni Kazki zebra suit painting

I thought the most successful works were the ones that were vivid, had a connection to Africa, and made you think. Interesni Kazki’s “Zebra Suit” is a great example, and leaves the meaning open to your interpretation.

fresh prince of bel air mural, will smith

When Juma told us to look up, we all grinned and did the “Carleton dance.” It’s Will Smith, as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air!

woodstock exchange art galleries

Time to explore Woodstock Exchange or WEX, a modern building that incubates young artists and creative shops. The open space is very Portlandia-hipster, isn’t it?

public art, swing chair woodstock

Woodstock Exchange features public installations, like this swing. I’ll later take you inside the creative studios, where artists work and play.

sleeping dog statue, Frank van Reenen

I’m a fan of this sleeping dog statue by Frank van Reenen. Next door, there are multiple design and fashion boutiques, and art galleries.

superette sandwich, cape town cafe

We had a healthy lunch at Superette. I could eat their veggie sandwiches and protein-salad plates every day; everything is prepared with locally-source seasonal ingredients. For a drink, it’s hard to decide between the fresh lemonade, ginger kombucha, local roast coffee, and craft beers.

On a different day, we ate fresh seafood at Ocean Jewels in WEX. $4 US for a plate of grilled angelfish and sweet potatoes. Once again, I could have this daily!

lady bonin's tea room

Leave room for a drink at Lady Bonin’s Tea Parlour, described as a “Purveyor of Magical Infusions and Tasty Curiosi-Teas.” I tried brewed buchu, a South African woody plant that has traditional medicinal properties, and is drunk to help digestion.

cape town tea parlor, buchi

Lady Bonin also serves gluten-free and sugar-free snacks. We tried the matcha, and rooibos with mocha.

bam bam hair bone

Isn’t the street art in Woodstock incredible? Gotta love this blue fellow with Bam Bam hair. Thanks Cape Town Tourism and Juma for the inspiring tour.

rainbow graffiti cape town, Okuda

I leave you with multicolored works by two Spanish artists. Okuda…

Spanish artist Remed mural cape town

… and Remed. Without doubt, South Africa is a Rainbow Nation.

PS: Don’t forget, I will be in the Philippines (Cebu), China (Shanghai) and Hong Kong soon! Let me know your travel suggestions, and follow along my trips in real-time on my social networks (@lacarmina, linked in the right sidebar).



  1. MelissaR
    Posted September 15, 2014 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Love this!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3

    Posted September 15, 2014 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    Congrats !

  3. ThatsVy
    Posted September 15, 2014 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    I lived in Shanghai for years! If you need any suggestions, let me know! =)

  4. Charie
    Posted September 15, 2014 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    :) Can’t wait to see

  5. Semilion
    Posted September 16, 2014 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    I love Shanghai!!!!

  6. George
    Posted September 16, 2014 at 7:02 am | Permalink


  7. MS
    Posted September 16, 2014 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Yeah ❤️❤️❤️

  8. daniflou
    Posted September 16, 2014 at 7:02 am | Permalink


  9. ElectricMoi
    Posted September 16, 2014 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    A lot of visitors go to Cebu for the beaches: However, you might also wanna visit a handful of museums and old churches if you’re interested in Philippine history and culture (Casa Gorordo, Museo Sugbo,Magellan’s Cross, Sto. Nino church, Fort San Pedro Museum). You should eat lechon! It’s Anthony Bourdain’s favorite. He likes Zubuchon, but my friend who’s a locale recommends CNT Lechon (be sure to be there early at around 11am to get the best ones for the day). You may also cross to Bohol (also one of the popular destinations in thr country) by boat and have a day tour. It is home to one of the wonders of nature Chocolate Hills and the bizarre but very kawaii tarsier. :)

  10. Valencia
    Posted September 16, 2014 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    in love with everything is this pics <3

  11. Roy
    Posted September 16, 2014 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    you look gorgeous. Take care. ^^

  12. Marni
    Posted September 16, 2014 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been to Cebu many times and I always love it. Please check out my hometown too, Davao City, the safest and one of the most liveable cities in the Philippines according to a survey. There are also a lot of beaches here and the food is great too! Maybe you can put it in your bucket list. :)

  13. Suzie
    Posted September 16, 2014 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Whoooooot! Many blessings!

  14. Zelda
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 3:22 am | Permalink


  15. REESE
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 3:23 am | Permalink


  16. Wan
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    Shanghai <3 it was fun!

  17. karo
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Come to Milan XD

  18. Sh5
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 8:17 am | Permalink


  19. Julia
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    ヽ(ω・,,ヽ)ウレ!! (ノ,,・ω)ノ

  20. Keiko
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Very nice. What a jetsetter.

  21. Velvet Aura
    Posted September 19, 2014 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    Many Thanks La Carmina

  22. Illy
    Posted September 19, 2014 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    Welcome! Beautiful images.

  23. Josh
    Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    OMG,,,,CEBU??? Philippines??????

  24. Loung Tan
    Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    come to my house XD

  25. Zima
    Posted September 19, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    We are very excited for the next posts!

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