Sunday, May 31, 2009

World Harvest Festival - Sarawak Cultural Village Part I

Sarawak Cultural Village's World Harvest Festival (formerly known as Gawai Tourism Night) is held each year around the same time and it is an opportunity for the local village to celebrate the harvest by showing off its cultural talents. It also involves performances from invited international cultural troupes and the highlight of the event (certainly for me) - the staging of a theme play on a legendary Iban warrior entitled "Apai Balang" - more on that later!

This year, the invited cultural troupes spanned across the globe - Sri Lanka, India, and Latvia!

First event of the day for me was the Sarawak Cultural Performance, held in the Dewan Lagenda.

While photographing the cultural dances was quite a challenge (due to lighting and movement), I managed to get som e shots of the action.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Wonderfully Wild Adventures of Jungle Girl - Borneo, Part IV

I digressed a little by putting photos up of Sentosa Island, Singapore, however I remembered that I was still yet to write the final series of my Borneo adventure!

Now... where was I.... oh yes.....

After coming back from the nature walk up on Mount Santubong at around 2pm, I had a quick swim in the resort pool to cool down and a little bit of a rest on the hammock to replenish the energy levels. I then headed down to the Sarawak Cultural Village for the World Harvest Festival - where I was supposed to have been had i not gone for the walk! As it turns out, the festivities were only just starting so I look back in hindsight and am glad that I did not go any earlier - it would have made for a very long day!

The Sarawak Cultural Village is found on the foothills of Mount Santubong, 35 km away from Kuching. The website ( describes it as:

"[a] living museum [that] depicts the heritage of the major racial groups in Sarawak and conveniently portrays the respective lifestyle amidst 14 acres of equatorial vegetation. Here, it is possible to see Sarawak's ethnic diversity at a glance.

The handicraft is both bewildering and tempting, including the Kain Songket (Malay cloth with gold inlay), Pua Kumbu (Iban housewives textiles), Melanau Terendak (sunhat), Bidayuh tambok (basket), Iban parang (swords), Orang Ulu wood carving and Chinese ceramic."

Visiting this Cultural Village was definitely one of the highlights of my stay in Sarawak. It allowed me to come face to face with Borneo's culture in its entirety, from the famous Borneo longhouses that the native tribes built, to the way they cooked, the utensils the tribes used, to the celebrations that matter to them most. I spent much of the afternoon wandering around, visiting each of the longhouses and exhibits, including the Bidayuh, Iban, Orang Ulu and Melanau longhouse, a Penan hut and a Malay village house, and a Chinese farm house.

Hopefully, I am correct in my recollection of the differences between the tribes! Each tribe - Bidayuh, Iban, Orang Ulu and Melanau - has its own unique characteristics. Their longhouses are unique to each tribe as well as their methods of hunting and agriculture.

IBAN - For centuries the Iban, a tribe which lived near the rivers of Borneo, were feared because they practiced headhunting. Now that headhunting is banned, they have learnt to live peacefully as agriculturalists alongside their neighbours. Thankfully! They have their own traditional dance, music, textile-weaving, blow-piping, fishing and game-playing and spend more time exhibiting skills than the headhunting ones!

ORANG ULU - is a tribe which describes the collection of groups from the interior region of Borneo. These groups include the Kenyah, Kayan, Kelabit, Lun Bawang and Penan. They make up on 5.5% of the Sarawak population and are known for being the most artistic of all of the tribes. The photo above right is the Orang Ulu longhouse.

MELANAUS - Wikipedia states that "the Melanaus have been thought to be amongst the original settlers of Sarawak". Wikipedia also says that traditionally, "Melanaus were fishermen and still today, they are reputed as some of the finest boat-builders and craftsmen". The house in the photo on the right is the Menlanau Tall House.

BIDAYUK - This tribe is concentrated on the west end of Borneo and make up 10% of the population of Sarawak. Wikipedia says that the Bidayuhs are "well-known for their hospitality, and are reputed to be the best makers of tuak, or rice wine. they also do arak tonok, some kind of moonshine."

I spent a lot of the day with my camera to my eye, taking as many shots as i could before the festival crowds started to roll in, ready for the evening's events.

Enjoy the numerous photos that represent Borneo's culture - a culture that all Borneans maintain with pride - in both their dress and in the stories they tell.

Spice utensils

A wooden musical instrument in the New Orang Ulu longhouse.

Artwork in the Melanau Tall House

Wooden Carving in the Melanau Tall House

Traditional Light Coverings.

Sentosa Island - Making Friends with the Locals

Sentosa Island Underwater World - All Creatures Great and Small!

Sentosa Island Underwater World - JellyFish!

Sentosa Island Underwater World - JellyFish!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Beautiful Traditional Dress - Malay/Indonesia

In Borneo, I had the pleasure of attending the World Harvest Festival at the Sarawak Cultural Village. More on this later, but I wanted to share some wonderful photos taken on the day...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Borneo - More Nature Shots

The Wonderfully Wild Adventures of Jungle Girl - Borneo, Part III

The Nature Walk to Mount Santubong with the Malaysian Nature Society

I woke up bright and early, having gone to bed straight after dinner the night prior. I had also decided, as I lay in bed the night before, to head to the Sarawark Cultural Village, which was only ten miles down from the Village House. I had been informed that there was a Harvest Festival on at the Cultural Village, so I wanted to get down there so I could get busy with the camera.

As I headed out towards the gate, I was greeted by Donald and Marina, the owners of the homestay. They were on their way to an outing with the Malaysian Nature Society, which was going part way up Mount Santabong to study rocks. They asked me if I wanted to join them and I jumped at the chance, despite still being a little under the weather with shingles. I would not have had the opportunity to do a jungle walk at any other time, as I generally do not do things like that on my own (for obvious reasons). So I raced back to the room, changed into more appropriate clothing and climbed into the car with Marina and Donald. It was an unexpected excursion but it ended up being a great experience – I could not go to Borneo without going into the jungle, could I?

We arrived at the entrance of the Mount Santbong jungle walk and we received a briefing from Hans, the leader of the excursion. He informed us about the kind of nature we would come across, the kind of rocks that we would be looking out for and a few other interesting bits about the area.

I also had the absolute pleasure of meeting and walking with Datuk Ose Murang, Secretary of Sarawak's Urban Development and Tourism Ministry and Miri Resident. I was honoured to be in his presence as his knowledge of the Sarawak area and its nature was simply amazing. It was just another magical part of my experience in Borneo, and I shall let the photos speak for themselves.

Out and About with Malaysia's Nature Society

(above: Marina from Village House, laughing at me nearly falling off the side of the bridge)

(above: Sarawak's Senior Government Official, Ose Murang)

(above: the nature enthusiasts, marveling at the Borneo jungle)

(above: Hans Dols, author, nature enthusiast and much more)

Rocks and Creatures at Mount Santabong

(above: Ribbit)

(above: Hans inspecting sandstone mixed in with granite... or was it ignius rock... oh dear... i forget!!!)

(above: not a special rock, but looked pretty with the leaf on it)

(above: Hans thought this was a great example of sandstone.. and i think ignius rock...oh dear, I am not so good at geology)

(above: but i know a pretty vine when i see one!)

The Weird and Wonderful Fungi of Borneo!!