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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY20, 2018

Borneo Happy Farm - the newest attraction in Kuching

Borneo Happy Farm is the new addition to tourists' attractions in Sarawak which had recently open its door to visitors last year. The farm is located near Moyan Square,Batu Kawa-Bau which is about 45 minutes’ drive from the city center. You can easily find the location of this farm on the internet. It is recommended to use Google Map instead of Waze because Waze will direct you to a totally different location.
 
This place spans of over 130 acres of land that is surrounded by the greenery. Based on their website which is, borneohappyfarm.com, their concept is to create awareness of nature conservation, green ecology, local cultures, traditional foods and health regimens. Besides that, Borneo Happy Farm also focuses on agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, aquaculture, and leisure and healthy lifestyle. The farm is a little bit far away from the main road so brace yourself with the bumpy road along the way to get there.
 
 
 
The big signage of Borneo Happy Farm at the main entrance welcomes you.
 
 
The best part about this place is it opens every day including public holidays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. So, you don’t have to worry when to visit the newly opened Borneo Happy Farm. But, please take note that the ticket counter will be closed at 4:30 p.m. 
 
 
 
Borneo Happy Farm ticketing counter at the main entrance.
 
 
 
The lobby at the main entrance of Borneo Happy Farm.
 
 
 
 
Wide parking space for all Borneo Happy Farm’s visitors.
 
 
 
You will be given a printed map of the farm together with your entrance ticket. The map will help you to know the place better and you can use it to guide you throughout your visit. You can refer to the map, on which place to visit according to the number. Borneo Happy Farm is one of the place for you to learn about the nature and its wildlife. It is very convenience for us to learn as they have provided the first ever automated voice over system in Sarawak throughout the farm. Visitors can just press the buttons to hear explanation of the attraction in English, Bahasa Melayu or language they have selected. Besides that, they also put as much information on board for every attraction.
 
 
 
 
The map of Borneo Happy Farm (Picture credit to Borneo Happy Farm)
 
 
 
Other than that, you can enjoy the attraction while collecting stamps at each points. At the back of the entrance ticket, there is a space for you to stamp your point. They have a different stamp for each stop which it can be very fun especially for kids.
 
 
 
 
Stamp station at Asian Arowana attraction point.
 
 
 
Automated voice over system throughout the farm.
 
 
 
Once you have settle down with your ticket purchase, you can make your way to the lake where there are farm’s freshwater fishes that includes Silver Arowana, Red Arowana and Empurau. These fishes are rare and valuable Asian Arowana.
 
 
 
 
More information about the fishes on the board.
 
 
Binoculars are provided for visitors to see the fishes – feel free to use them.
 
 
 
Other than that, the next attraction in this farm is Bunny’s Farm. For those who loves rabbits, this is definitely your favourite stop in this farm. Not only they have rabbit, they also have guinea pig in the same bunny pen. You will have the chance to go inside the bunny pen to pet and feed them. However, they only allowed maximum 8 people to enter the pen.
 
 
The Do’s and Don’ts for interacting with the animals inside the pen.
 
 
One of the visitor is feeding the rabbits.
 
 
 
Besides that, there are tortoise and soft shell turtle at the next stop which is Longevity Village. Those are raised in the farm for educational purpose. In here, you can touch, pet and feed them but please be reminded to follow the do’s and don’ts. You also will learn about the different types of turtles and tortoises.
 
 
Information on different types of turtles.
 
 
The guide is showing the turtle to the visitors.
 
 
Longevitiy Village with the colourful painted row of turtles display.
 
 
Pitcher plant or also known as Periuk Kera at Longevity Village.
 
 
Asiatic Softshell Turtle also locally known as Labi Labi Asia. Photo credit to Borneo Happy Farm
 
Besides fishes, tortoise and rabbits, they also have other animals such as goats, sheep, dairy cows, calves and horses at the next stop which is Savanna. When you enter Savanna, you will be entertain by the view of Mount Serembu.
 
 
 
 
Breath-taking view of Mount Serembu.
 
 
 
Savanna is the place for the herbivores, where it is a green grassland paradise for them. This is where you can stumble across these animals eating the grass, if you are lucky, you can see them running around the field.
 
 
Three goats in the corner, they are a little bit scared of people.
 
 
They called him Bobby – he loves wagging its tail like a dog.
 
 
 
 
Cows can be seen on our way out of the farm.
 
 
Tapang Tree, the oldest and tallest tree can be found in Borneo Happy Farm.
 
 
 
There are also a place for duck, goose and chicken in the farm which is called Geese Duck Chic.  They are released freely to walk all over the area and the visitors can feed them with the food that is provided by the staff.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
You also can go to Tropical Rainforest Trail which have 3 routes and is 600 meters long. Throughout the journey, you can see experience the beauty of reserved rainforest and if you are lucky, you might see wildlife along the trail. Please do ask for guide before you enter the trail as it might be dangerous to go alone without the park rangers.
 
 
 
The entrance of Tropical Rainforest Trail.
 
Notice sign next to the entrance of the trail – advisable to read them first before enter.
 
 
 
Do not worry about food, there is a canteen in the farm, Tropical Farm Café where you can sit and relax while enjoying your meal. The canteen is based on a self-service concept. You can order and pick up your food at the counter. They also have provided the cutlery return station. They serve variety of food, hot and cold beverages and snacks.
 
 
 
 
 
The cutlery return station at Tropical Farm Café.
 
 
 
Just next to the café, there is a Food and Handicraft Gallery where they have different type of food and handicraft of different cultures in Sarawak. You can play with the equipment display and feel free to take photos with them.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Other than that, Borneo Happy Farm is also suitable for team building activities as they have rock climbing, flying fox and more. For the safety purpose, the activities will be held according to the age of participant. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Borneo Happy Farm is a great place to visit especially when you are coming with families. You can get the chance to interact with the animals and you can learn about the nature. There are many pretty spots to take pictures such as Dino Dino andLongevity Village.But, please keep an eye on your kids if you bring them along as it can be dangerous for them to run around with the lakes all over the place. When visiting, please watch out for your steps as the path along the farm can be very slippery. Since the farm is an outdoor environment, prepare your visit according to the weather forecast especially when it is raining season.
 
 
Dino Dino, a great place to take pictures with the beautiful colourful dinosaur statues.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The exit to the main lobby of Borneo Happy Farm.
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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 23, 2017

A One Day Tour at Kuching

I recently went on a day tour in Kuching with a group of retirees from Johor Bahru to Sarawak Cultural Village, Cat Museum, Dayang Salhah Cake House and more. To me, it felt like going on a trip with my own grandparents. They were very friendly and nice to me even though they have never seen me before. Hence, I was able to enjoy spending time with them the whole trip.

 

Billy (the one with the blue backpack) giving a brief talk to the tour group

 

 

I arrived at 56 Hotel at 8.15am to meet the group and our tour guide, Billy, at the hotel lobby. The group came down to the lobby from their room at 8.40am and Billy gave a short briefing about the day trip. At 9am, we got on a coach, which was the transport for our trip, and took off to our first destination, the Sarawak Cultural Village.

It was a long trip to Sarawak Cultural Village, taking about a bit over an hour to reach there since it is located far from the city and also due to the traffic that day. I helped in distributing mineral drinks to each of the group members as so to keep them hydrated for the day.

Once arrived at the destination, I was the last person to leave the coach and made sure all of them got off the coach safely. Billy went to the reception counter to get our tickets while I kept an eye on the group. I also helped a family to take their photos at the Rainforest Music Festival statue.

Soon enough, we entered the ‘living museum’ led by Billy.

 

Signage at Sarawak Cultural Village

 

The bamboo bridge route to get to the Bidayuh Longhouse

 

Our first stop was the Bidayuh Longhouse. There was two routes to get there; the normal route and the bamboo bridge route. Everyone except only 2 or 3 of them did not go for the bridge because they had pain in their legs. So, they took the normal, longer route with Billy.

At the Bidayuh Longhouse, other than objects that are of the Bidayuh culture, there was a person playing a musical instrument, similar to a flute, to entertain the visitors. The group members looked around looking fascinated and some of them even took photos with the people who wore the traditional Bidayuh costumes in the house. They also bought some souvenirs from there.

Our next stop was the Iban Longhouse. I was assigned a task by Billy to collect the stamps at each stop as a proof of the visit, while also keeping an eye on the group. In the house, there was a lady who was frying an Iban traditional snack, known as Kuih Jala, to sell to the visitors. 3 of the members bought some and shared with the others. I also got my share of it because they were so nice. The snack was sweet and pleasant, perfect for a teatime snack, in my opinion. They took photos with the people wearing Iban costume in the house before leaving the house.

 

The view at Sarawak Cultural Village

 

Then we went to the Penan Hut. There were not much to see except for the musical instrument Sape and the tools that the Penan people used for daily survival. Billy explained that the Penan people live a nomadic life and that is why they lived in a hut instead of a house.

After that, we visited the Orang Ulu Longhouse and the Melanau Tall House. Both houses are built high above the ground with sturdy wood holding them up, so it was a long walk up and down the stairs for the visitors. Billy gave a short talk about the respective cultures while the group members looked around the house and enjoyed some Orang Ulu snacks sold in the house.

Lastly, we visited the Chinese Farmhouse. The group members paid respect at the praying area and walked around to see the tools and items inside the house which were used by the Chinese people living in a farmhouse some time ago.

After the cultural houses tour, Billy led the group to the hall for a cultural show performances. The show started at 11.45am sharp and ended at 12.20 in the afternoon. The group members enjoyed the show and went to have their lunch at the cafeteria next to the hall.

 

The view in front of a Melanau Tall House

 

Our next destination was the Cat Museum. It is the World’s first Cat Museum, devoted to all things feline, is in Petra Jaya in the Kuching City North City Hall. Cat lovers will find a range of exhibits, photos, feline art and cat souvenirs; over 4,000 of them. The group members bought small souvenirs from the souvenir shop inside the museum after walking around to see all the artefacts.

 

The entrance of the Cat Museum at Dewan Bandaraya Kuching Utara (DBKU)

 

Then, we went to Dayang Salhah’s Cake House. Billy and the group members all tried the tester prepared by the place’s owner, filling their tummy with the sweet delicacies. Some of the group members even bought the cakes they tasted.

Our last stop for the day was Sin Piao. The group members went on a shopping frenzy at the shop. They bought a lot of Borneo spices and snacks, some even bought in boxes, to bring home to their families and friends. They were clearly happy and satisfied with the last stop and we headed back to the hotel to end the day trip. The group members thanked Billy and me for the day before going back up to their rooms.

Tags: Kuching Day Trip | Sarawak Cultural Village | Kampung Budaya | Cat Museum |

MONDAY, FEBRUARY29, 2016

VIVACITY Megamall, the newest and largest shopping mall in Kuching

Shopping malls had increased these past few years in Kuching. One after another opens up their doors to welcome people from all over Kuching, even from all over Sarawak to their mall. The newly opened VIVACITY Megamall, the newest addition to malls in Kuching, had just opened its doors to visitors last December 2015.

The mall was designed by Archicentre, the same team that designed Setia City Mall in Shah Alam. There are also hundreds s of condominiums and suites, called The Jazz Suites @ VIVACITY on top of the mall. It is currently the biggest shopping mall in Kuching, and the carpark has about 3,800 parking bays at basement, podium and roof levels, each with its own dedicated entrance and exit.

The four-level shopping mall is currently buzzing with activities. Almost all shop lots had tenants. On lower ground there are supermarket, specialty food, essentials and services, while on the ground floor, they have international fashion, jewellery & timepieces, cosmetics & skincare and alfresco & cafés such as Nando’s; the first branch in Kuching, the first Tony Roma’s in Borneo, Burger King, The Library, Quiznos Cafe, Secret Recipe and many more.

Besides several newly opened branches of restaurants in Kuching, there are also many firsts of their respective brands or chains opened here in Vivacity. You can find Tokyo Station on Level 2, where you can find lots of Japanese stuff such as groceries, snacks, household products, skincare range, stationery items, luggage and home furnishings. This is the first of its chains in Malaysia. You can even see the “ransel”, a firm-sided backpack made of stitched firm leather or leather-like synthetic material, most commonly used in Japan by elementary schoolchildren sold at the shop. Customers get to purchase Hokkaido Matcha Milk, never-before-seen KitKat flavours such as Cheese Cake, Pumpkin and Sweet Potato, and many other stuff that you may never encounter in our local shops.

Visitors can also visit Sports Direct, the UK’s leading sports retailer, selling varieties of internationally recognised sports and leisure brands; Calliope, an Italian interpretation of the latest fashion trends and the first of its chains in Malaysia; Samba, an Ipanema, Zaxy, Ryder & Grendha Concept Stores from Brazil of which opening ceremony was graced by the “Samba Queen” from Singapore, Farah Dawood De Morais; KAISON, the decoration and gift retailer, focusing on selling affordable yet well designed products; Seoul Garden, an authentic Korean-styled BBQ Buffet restaurant; and so much more!

For those who are not familiar with the roads in Kuching, the mall is located at Jalan Wan Alwi, Tabuan Jaya Baru 2. From city centre, it will take about 20 minutes’ drive.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s head over to Vivacity Megamall now and check out this new mall!

Tags: Vivacity Megamall | Kuching |

THURSDAY, JULY 10, 2014

7 reasons why you must visit Sarawak Cultural Village, Kuching

If you are sightseeing in Kuching make sure to add Sarawak Cultural Village to your bucket list because Sarawak Cultural Village is a must visit place when you are in Kuching. The cultural village showcases the arts of different longhouses and guests will get to experience the way of living of the local tribe. Furthermore, entertaining yet educational cultural show in an air-conditioned theater is the perfect closing for your trip!

 

1. Summary of Culture in Sarawak

Sarawak Cultural Village is a place for tourists to see the lifestyles of most ethnic tribes in Sarawak. It is not called a living museum for nothing. Each house has residents, where the staffs of Sarawak Cultural Village wear traditional clothes, based on the ethnic house they “reside” in. Sometimes if you are lucky, you might find a man wearing traditional cloth playing sape at the Iban house.

 

2. Amazing performances

They have live performances every day. Each performance is a mixture of suspense and entertainment. After the dance, one guy would hold a blow dart as if he was going to blow the dart at your face. However, be rest assured that the blow dart is empty. Then, he will show you his amazing skills at blowing darts by popping balloons that are quite far from where he is standing.

Even though their routine is the same for every performance, you will not get bored as they will invite one lucky audience to come up on stage and play the blow dart. Each of the performers looks like they are having fun on stage, with bright smiles plastered on their faces.

Cultural show performed by dancers wearing traditional clothes

Cultural show performed by dancers wearing traditional clothes

 

3. Traditional food and handicraft

There are traditional foods sold at the houses. You can try these delicious foods, made by the locals while you browse through the house. They are kuih jala (rice cookies), kuih ros (rose cookies) and kuih sepit (love letter). You can watch them being prepared by the ladies at the house. Try it while it is still hot!

There are also beautiful beadwork and pua kumbu on display. Each design has tribe motives with colourful beads. You can even buy them as souvenir.

Kuih jala or rice cookies sold at one of the house  Rice cookie being prepared in a small wok

Kuih jala or rice cookies sold at one of the house

 

Kuih Chuan or rose shaped cookies  Kuih Chuan being deep fried in a wok after dipping the chuan / acuan (mold) in batter

Kuih Chuan or rose shaped cookies

 

4. Rainforest World Music Festival

Sarawak Cultural Village is home to the famous annual Rainforest World Music Festival where performers from all over the world gather here to perform their traditional music. Also, these performances will captivate you and the music will raise your spirits. You might even be dancing along with them in no time.

 

5. View house architectures

Each ethnic group has their own house designs. For example, rumah panjai lives up to its name as it is a very long house. However, the longhouse at the village is not as long as the common longhouse in Sarawak since it will took so much space in the area.

The house consists of many units, resides by different families. They have one long veranda in front of the houses, where families gather and celebrations are held.

Melanau house is also a sight to see. They traditionally lived near the sea, so the house was built uo to forty metres above the ground.

 

Orang Ulu Longhouse  Melanau Tall House

Orang Ulu Longhouse (left) and Melanau Tall House (right)

 

BIdayuh Longhouse  Malay House

Bidayuh Longhouse (left) and Malay House (right)

 

6. Recreation place

The location of Sarawak Cultural Village is just opposite Damai Central, a place for sea dipping and occasional bike riding. Families often visit this place for picnic, and there is a food court here where you can try the local delicacies at a reasonable price.

 

Beach at Damai Central

The beautiful beach at Damai Central

 

7. Great view

With Mount Santubong as its backdrop and rainforests surrounding the village, the picturesque view will take your breath away. The calm and peaceful lake in the middle of the village is rather beautiful, especially for people who love photography.

 

The bustling entrance with Mount Santubong at the back

The bustling entrance with Mount Santubong at the back

 

 

Sarawak Cultural Village is a must-visit place in Kuching. Leaving Kuching without visiting the village is akin to eating red bean ice without the red beans. It is a one-of-a-kind experience where you get to see a summary of Sarawak culture in one place.

Tags: Sarawak Cultural Village | Kampung Budaya Sarawak | Interesting place in Kuching | Longhouse in Kuching | Longhouse in Sarawak | Melanau House | Iban Longhouse | Bidayuh Longhouse | Orang Ulu Longhouse | Penan Hut | Malay House | Chinese Farm House |

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2013

Kuching Parachute Jumping Competition

 Kuching Parachute Jumping Competition
 
Have you ever seen a parachute jumping competition in Kuching? For the first time ever, there will be a parachute jumping competition in Kuching and there are nine teams participating in the competition including one from Indonesia. The parachute jumping competition and other activities during the two days are organized as a fund raiser to help their less fortunate members of the armed forces.
Parachuting or popularly known as skydiving, is a sport where people board an aircraft into the sky and jumping off it. They will then be in a free fall state until the last part of the descent before releasing their parachute to slow down the speed of their descending.
Sky diving was actually a safety procedure for the military for saving their aircrews from emergencies during flight. It was then used to send soldiers into battlefield via the air and now, it has become an extreme sport and people who are unfit are not encouraged to try. This sport is also not encouraged to be done on bad weathers such as during thunderstorms and high winds. Parachuting is allowed at night however, there are a number of safety measures that needs to be taken in order to do a night jump.
Over the years, parachuting has gain popularity and many variations are made to make skydiving much extreme such as a formation jump where a group of skydivers jump together and make a formation in the sky. The formations for skydiving also has a wide variety such as the vertical formation where skydivers jump with their head facing the earth and also the canopy formation where the skydiver jump in groups and fly their parachutes near to each other and then docking on other jumpers parachutes. Skydiving requires a lot of concentration and discipline as if you are not mentally prepared, you might faint in the middle of free falling and that could be fatal.
There was never a parachuting competition held before in Kuching. However, on November 2nd and 3rd 2013, there will be the first parachuting competition at Padang Merdeka. The competition is also held in conjunction of Sarawak’s 50th independence ceremony. Nine teams are expected to be joining the competition with various security forces including the Royal Malaysian Navy Commando Unit, Royal Malaysian Air Force Commando Unit and also one team compromising civilians not forgetting another six parachutists representing Indonesia. It will surely be a lot of fun to watch them glide through the skies and landing at their drop zone which is Padang Merdeka.
During the event, there will also be other various activities going on such as a joggerthon and also the displaying of the country’s warships. The Scorpion submarine will also be brought over if the depth of the Sarawak River is enough to let it through.
Come and continue Sarawak’s 50th independence ceremony at Padang Merdeka, Kuching and watch as the nine teams parachute their way through the skies of Kuching. Don’t forget the joggerthon and also the warships that they are planning to display on the day. It would all make up to a beautiful site not to be missed.
Tags: parachute jumping competition | Kuching | first | parachute | competition |

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 14, 2013

Shopping mall attractions in Kuching, Sarawak for the Shopaholics

Kuching, Sarawak has been rapidly growing in the past few years and the opening of a large number of shopping malls in the city makes Kuching one of the ideal destinations for shoppers and window shoppers to fill their desire and spend their money.

 

Together with MASWings, we are taking you to the Cat City and look around a number of shopping malls in Kuching.

Sarawak Plaza Kuching

image courtesy of http://www.sedctourism.com/sp.asp

 

The first shopping mall in Kuching, Sarawak that we would like to introduce to you is Sarawak Plaza. Located in the city area, Sarawak plaza is a 4 floor mall next to Grand Margherita Hotel. In 2008, Sarawak Plaza had undergone an interior makeover for a couple of months giving it new life thus re inviting more customers back into the mall. Most of the tenants in the malls are selling clothes, shoes, toys and gift shops. 

Tun Jugah Shopping Mall Kuching

 

The second shopping mall, Tun Jugah, Kuching, is just across the street from Sarawak Plaza. Tun Jugah Mall is named after a national hero who was involved in the independence and formation of Malaysia. The shopping mall comprises of 3 Levels with the first made up mainly of food and beverages. The second floor compromise of electronics, clothes, optical stores, toys, and a hair design centre. The third floor is made up mostly of Popular Book Store with a food court situated at the back.

Plaza Merdeka Kuching

 

The third shopping mall that we would like you to keep in view is Plaza Merdeka, Kuching. Plaza Merdeka has a number of floors ranging from the lower ground to the fourth floor. It is one of the shopping mall that houses many tenants and thus making it easier to choose and find products that you would like to buy. Its tenants are mostly upmarket branded store.

The Spring Shopping Mall Kuching

 

The Spring Shopping Mall, the fourth mall that we will be introducing is located at Simpang Tiga, Kuching. The Spring shopping mall which was opened in 2008 is said to be one of the best lifestyle shopping mall in Kuching. The Spring shopping mall houses a number of branded products and various items from electronics to books and entertainment. Besides that, on the top level, it also houses MBO cinemas for movie goers to enjoy themselves.

CityOne Shopping Mall Kuching

 

The fifth shopping mall, CityOne, is located at Jalan Song, Kuching. It is designed after the Bird Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing and comprises of two sections. It is said to soon be the largest mall in Kuching upon completion. A shopping mall housing various different tenants, it has also recently open up Golden Screen Cinema at the top floor thus making more members of the public to stop by CityOne to watch movies.

 

OneJaya is another shopping mall located at Jalan Song, Kuching. It is a 4-story building and the management of OneJaya is dedicated in bringing people in the surrounding neighborhood to enjoy a different experience in shopping.

 

The next shopping mall introduced is Kuching Sentral which is located at 6th Mile near to Kuching International Airport. Also a bus terminal, Kuching Sentral is a stop for those wanting to travel to other parts of the state via buses or coaches. Although it is used as a bus terminal, you will be surprise at what kind of products that you can find in the mall.

Boulevard Shopping Mall Kuching

 

One of the popular shopping malls in Kuching is Boulevard Shopping Mall. Boulevard Mall, located just 5 minutes from Kuching International Airport is a perfect destination for those looking for a mid-range priced products. The shopping mall will be one of the main attractions in Kuching as it is still expanding and more entertainment in the shopping will be available in the near future.

The Summer Mall Kuching

 

Another shopping mall which was recently opened is The Summer Shopping Mall. Located at Kota Samarahan, Kuching, The Summer is a three-story landmark building looking to cater to the needs of the people in the area. The Summer Shopping Mall will also house the region’s largest Lotus Five Star Cineplex and also the Summer Lagoon Water Theme Park.

Eastern Mall Kuching

 

Eastern Mall, Siburan is one of the newest shopping mall in Kuching. Located at 17th Mile, Eastern Mall is a single story shopping mall and is fully air –conditioned. Eventhough it is a small one-story shopping mall, it houses a number of tenants and is worth checking out.

 

A well-known shopping mall has also branched out to Kuching which is the Giant Hypermarket. In Kuching alone, there are two branches of Giant Hypermarket which is at Tabuan Jaya and at Kota Padawan. Giant houses a number of tenants mainly in the food and beverage, fashion, and electronics department.

 

These are some of the shopping malls in Kuching and each has their own unique architectural build and selling various kinds of different things. It is worth visiting all of these malls and who knows you might find something that you are really searching for all this while. With MASWings, purchase your tickets at www.maswings.com.my to Kuching now and search for various kinds of products and entertainments available at each mall.

Tags: Kuching | MASwings | Best Kuching Hotels | The Spring | Sarawak Plaza | Tun Jugah Mall | Grand Margehrita Hotel | Boulevard Shopping Mall | MBO Cinema | City One | Golden Screen Cinema | Kuching International Airport | Giant Hypermarket | |

THURSDAY, MARCH 21, 2013

Kuching Cat Icon Monument Wears a New Hat

 

 

 Kuching City’s famous Cat Icon Statue recently received a new urban art makeover from a group of Kuching volunteering knitters. The new look of the Cat Statue, now has a new purple with cream and a white hat, as well as a golden yellow purplish scarf that makes it looks like a Boy Scouts team.

 

 This Kuching City Cat Statue iconic monument wears different costumes for different occasions. Before this, it was the Chinese New Year festival season. The Cat Statue was well decorated with Chinese costume in conjunction with the holiday festival season.

 

 The art makeover volunteered by the group of Kuching knitters, was led by Crafthub director, Heidi Munan. They stitched a nine metre strip of yarn into a hat and another three metre into a scarf. To ensure the hat is well placed on the Cat Statue, it was reinforced with metal wires making sure it will last long under the humid weather in Sarawak.

 

 Materials used were from recycle and unwanted items such as thrown away water bottles and pompoms.

 

 Miss Heidi Munan, the director and leader of the club for Crafthub, mentioned the idea to start out and decorated the Kuching Landmark Cat Statue was proposed by a group of non-government organisations since last year.

 

 It took the group 6 months to complete the costume. During that period of time, they met up once a week to do the stitches and some of them who were looking forward to it eventually decided to continue the job at home with the given materials.

 

 The only cost involved was labour as the beautifully produced yarn was made from recycled items or a half completed work and unwanted yarns.

 

 Heidi was inspired by the design from the latest urban street art called yarn bombing. Originally yarn bombing was used to decorate trees and benches made of colourful knitted and crotched yarn or fibre clothes.

 

 “It is hoped that this attempt on urban street art would not only promote the art but also entice city folks to take up this new interests and expand its use in the future as an embellishment to the cityscape and the promotion of the city’s culture and tourism” she said.

 

 Their hands are currently tight with charitable works at the Children Cancer’s ward of the Sarawak General Hospital, by knitting colourful patched blankets and hats. After that, they will move on to stitching soft toys.

 

 Those who are interested to learn stitching may drop by at the Sarawak Museum Café on Wednesday from 10 am to learn stitching from Heidi.

 

 Kuching South City Council (MBKS) Mayor Dato James Chan advised public not to touch or remove the hat or scarf.

 

 “You are welcomed to come and take photos but don’t disturb it. Do not take it away,” said Chan.

 

 As a show of support, the group also presented a hand-knitted blue, white and red coloured hat to Chan.

Tags: Kuching City | Kuching Cat Statue | Kuching Cat Statue Sarawak | Kuching Cat Statue Borneo |

TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2013

Goodbye Encik Johanif Director of Tourism Malaysia Sarawak

Encik Johanif receiving gift.

 

  The board of director for Tourism Malaysia Sarawak Encik Johanif bin Mohammad Ali will be leaving for New York on the 25th January 2013. He has been serving the Tourism Malaysia Sarawak since year 2008 until 2012.

 

  In his statement during his speech, his main goal was not only to promote Sarawak alone but he is looking at new business prospect in New York. He did mention the percentage of international tourists coming over to Sarawak was more. His new aim in New York was also to introduce Sarawak more to the people in New York besides his other tasks to promote Malaysia as a whole.

 

  One of his notable successes as the State Director, Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board Sarawak Office, was organizing the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) board of directors’ conference in year 2009. The event was    attended by a total of 100 delegates from all different nations in Asia region. The objective for PATA which was established in the early 1950’s served its purposed to promote mostly Asian region. 

 


Encik Johanif also sat on the Sarawak Convention Bureau as the Board of directors for four years.

 

  He even urged the Sarawak government to make full use of our treasures and natural resources in Sarawak to turn it into a potential marketing tool to attract more tourists.

 

  “With its natural products, we must now find a way to market them the right way. The industry players must have the ability to modify our local products to become major tourist products of choice,” he commented.

 

  He mentioned that Sarawak can learn a thing or two by observing Melaka. Melaka does not have a much resources to begin with but they somehow managed to do it and turn it into tourists’ attractions by being creative.

 

“Despite not having many natural resources that could be turned into local tourist attractions, Melaka is very resourceful. They are able to create attractive packages for their tourism.”

 

 Johanif hoped that the tour operators in Sarawak do not rely too much on the government to do the job. Instead, they need to be creative in marketing and promoting their products and services.

 

 “They must be able to constantly think of new products that could attract more tourists to the state and country. Creativity is one way that this industry could develop further,” he added.

 

  He added the reason why Sarawak especially, tends to get very low visitors from New York was due to air connectivity.

 

  “Without it, it is difficult for our tourism industry. For example, the American market is much matured; meaning price plays an important role. Tourists will look for the best and most attractive ones.”

 

  “We stress on product uniqueness. For Sarawak, the products are its culture, nature and adventure,” said Johanif.

 

   To overcome the air connectivity issue, Tourism Malaysia has developed a smart partnership with international airlines.

 

   Johanif’s successor will be Sallahudin Mohd Ariffin and will be taking his position as the Tourism Malaysia Sarawak Director in February 2013.

 

   Those who attended his farewell party held at Damai on the 28th December 2012 were Dato’ James Dawos, Sarawak Cruise River, The Star, Savvy Media and Borneo Island Big Bikers Club. There were a total number of 50 people who attended his farewell party.

 

   Light refreshments consist of Nasi Briyani, Rendang Beef, Bee Hoon, assorted cupcakes and cookies.

 

Mouth watery Nasi Briyani, Noodles and Rendang

  Simple activities such as karaoke from both emcees made his farewell party even livelier and simple quizzes with mystery prizes were given away to the crowds.

 

  Mr Johanif, you have our best wishes. Do the best and have a great pleasant journey all the way in New York. We also hoped to see you coming back to Kuching once in a while for a visit whenever you have the chance.

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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2012

What is Funniest video contest all about?

 

Funniest video contest is a fun contest for you to WIN 20 ROLLS of DELICIOUS SWEET Kek Lapis Sarawak couriered all the way to your home. 

So do quickly submit a short video of you or your family members or friends or even your pet in action. Tickle us with laughter and get the most votes to win those yummy famous Sarawak Kek Lapis Sarawak. Contest runs from 14 Nov - 20 Nov 2012. So Hurry!

Just grab your smarphone or hp and take a short ORIGINAL VIDEO in less than 3 mins of either you/ your family/friends/ pets  in action.

Upload to YouTube.

Then copy the url and paste it here.

Share on your wall, Promote to your friends to vote for you. You get 1 extra points for every referral friend of yours who submit an entry.

The video with the highest VOTES win!

So go ahead and share the Cake with your friends!

Click here to join now!!!

Tags: Kek Lapis Sarawak | Funniest Home Video Contest | Cuti-Cuti Sarawak | Best Kuching Hotels | Sarawak Borneo |

SUNDAY, AUGUST 12, 2012

Seven Reasons Why Kuching City Is Worth the Visit.

 

Kuching is the capital city of Sarawak , the largest state in Malaysia . Kuching, the largest city in East Malaysia, is home to around 600,000 of Sarawak ’s multi-ethnic population. Kuching is uniquely the only city in Malaysia to be divided into two administrative parts, Kuching South and Kuching North Back in the 19th century this city was known as Sarawak before it was renamed as Kuching.

This laid-back and colourful city will capture the hearts of those who visited here. In fact, some would even be reluctant to leave after spending some time in Kuching. There are so many reasons why it is worth your while to visit Kuching. Here are seven of them.

Meet the diverse and friendly people of Kuching

When you arrive in Kuching you will be amazed by the diversity of it population. In fact, Kuching is one of the most multicultural cities in Malaysia . In the streets of Kuching you will see the Chinese, Iban, Bidayuh, Melanau, Orang Ulu and Malay people rub shoulders together as they go about their daily lives. The Chinese population is centred in Kuching South while the Malays live in Kuching North. The rest of the population is spread evenly throughout both part of the city. Indeed, you will be charmed by their warmth and friendliness to visitors to Kuching. Take the time to learn about the different cultures living together in Kuching and be amazed by the rich cultural heritage of this multicultural city.

 

 See the historical places in Kuching

When you walk around Kuching city, you will notice several buildings from the old colonial days with their unique 19th- early 20th century architectures. For example, the majestic-looking Kuching Post Office, with its impressive ornamental Corinthian columns and semi-circular arches was built in 1931. Who would imagine that a post office would look so majestic! Across the river in Kuching North, you will see the Astana, formerly known as the Government House, which was built by the 2nd Rajah of Sarawak in 1874. The regal look of the Astana definitely befits its status as the governor’s residence. Indeed there are many more historical buildings you can discover here apart from these two examples.

 

 Explore the Kuching Waterfront

 If you are in Kuching, you must not miss taking a walk along the scenic Kuching Waterfront with its beautiful view of the Sarawak River . You can see the Astana looming on the other side of the river. You could even take a short boat ride to Kuching North which is just across the river from here. This one kilometer pedestrian riverside walk also has many stalls selling tourist souvenirs and food. So you could enjoy a leisurely walk and browse through the wares and food on offer here.

 

 Go souvenir hunting in the Main Bazaar

 Looking for nice souvenirs from Kuching? Well, the nearby the Main Bazaar is the place for you to go. However, do remember to bargain for the right price to get a good deal! You can see a whole row of shops selling traditional handicrafts, antiques and many other interesting items here. The shops themselves, with their old colonial architecture, are also interesting to look at. You’ll spend hours here browsing through all the stuff.

 Stroll through India Street Mall

 Not far from the Main Bazaar, lies India Street Mall. This pedestrian walkway has been home to Indian traders in Kuching for countless of years. Here you can find shops selling fabrics, textiles, clothing, books and other every day items. Indeed, the unique sight and sounds of this street mall adds more colour to Kuching city.

 Visit the first cat museum in the world

Kuching is home to the first cat museum in the world, which is appropriate since the name Kuching means ‘cat’ in Malay. Located on a hill with a good view of Kuching, the Cat Museum is only 10 minutes drive away from the city centre. Here, you can see various items relating to cats, ranging from cat-themed statues, pendants, stamps to personal photo collections. This one of a kind museum in Malaysia will definitely delight all cat lovers.

 Experience the delicious Kuching food

Feeling hungry after doing all these explorations? Well, it’s time to try out the mouth-watering Kuching food. There are a variety of local cuisines such as the famous Kolok Mee, Laksa Sarawak, traditional Iban bamboo chicken, friend Midin vegetable and many more. By all means, try them out. If you plan to watch your weight while you are in Kuching, let’s just say you should do that after you finish your trip!

 The more you spend your time exploring Kuching; you will undoubtedly discover more reasons why this place is really worth the visit. And who knows, you might not even want to leave at all after experiencing the sights and sounds of this beautiful city.

Tags: kuching city | where to go in kuching | must visit places in kuching | kuching town | kuching city | kuching | sarawak | kuching borneo | kuching malaysia |

TUESDAY, JUNE 5, 2012

Magrina Awing George is crowned as Miss World Harvest Festival (WHF) 2012

Miss World Harvest Festival (WHF) 2012 Magrina Awing George poses with 1st runner-up Gracia Vicky Chua and 2nd runner-up Karissa Kara Simon after being crowned at the Sarawak Cultural Village on Saturday. 

 

Magrina Awing George is crowned as Miss World Harvest Festival (WHF) 2012 at the Sarawak Cultural Village here on 26 May, 2012 and the 19-year-old said to be always be proud of your native heritage, strive to be the best and never look down on yourself.
Of mixed Kayan-Iban parentage, Magrina from Miri gave these words of encouragement particularly to the Orang Ulu people in the hope that her native community would go all out to achieve success and embrace development to be on par with advanced societies in the country.
Making her first foray into a beauty pageant, she beat 13 other finalists for the coveted crown, and walked away with a cash prize of RM3,000, a sponsored Diploma in Tourism Management course courtesy of UCSI University and a complimentary stay at Grand Margherita Hotel among others.
“I am very happy and excited. I have never expected this. With this win, I will continue my studies. The winnings will be used to help my family,” she told the press after the event.
The second of five children, Magrina who aspires to become a successful television personality cited her mother as her biggest influence. Apart from winning the Miss WHF 2012 crown, she also won third place in the Miss Talent subsidiary title through her rendition of Jessie J’s hit song ‘Price Tag’ earlier in the evening, pocketing a cash prize of RM500.
Coming in second in the Miss WHF 2012 pageant was 18-year-old Gracia Vicky Chua who is of mixed Iban-Chinese parentage from Kota Samarahan. The school leaver who aspires to become a teacher won a cash prize of RM2,000 apart from a sash, trophy and flower bouquet for the top three winners.
 
 
Gracia also spotted a lovely voice when rendering the late Datuk Sudirman Arshad’s ‘Salam Terakhir’ at the Miss Talent competition.
Karissa Kara Simon, 23, of Iban parentage, was third and got herself a cash prize of RM1,000. She also won RM700 for winning the Miss Photogenic subsidiary title.
As for other subsidiary titles, Miss Beautiful Eyesight went to 21-year-old Bidayuh Farahana Zita Joes. She also came second in the Miss Talent category after entertaining the crowd with her ‘Dangdut’ dance move to the tune of ‘Goyang Dangdut’. In total, she won RM1,400 for her achievements in both categories.
Twenty-year-old Stephanie Yiap Ai Nee who is of mixed Chinese-Bidayuh-Filipino-Japanese parentage was Miss Congeniality, and walked away with a cash prize of RM800, courtesy of 360 Hotel. The hotel also announced that all finalists would each receive a complimentary stay package.
Yiap, who is currently pursuing a Degree course in Business, also took first place in the Miss Talent title. Her lively performance of ‘Let’s Get Loud’ by Jennifer Lopez won her RM1,000. She also pocketed a further RM500 by winning the Miss SMS Favourite title with a total of 4,410 votes.
Miss Versatile subsidiary title went to 23-year-old Kayan-Canadian Rebekah Livan Balan. She won a cash prize of RM700 and a hamper. Rebekah who loves to play the ‘sape’ rendered Tuku Kame’s ‘Lan E’ instrumental and sang Misha Omar’s ‘Pulangkan’ as she opened the night’s Miss Talent competition.
Best Traditional Costumes title went to 19-year-old Iban from Sri Aman – Annie Salang. She pocketed RM500 while 24-year-old Helina Sarani Saba, an Iban from Bintulu, took home RM300 for winning Miss Best Catwalk.
All subsidiary title winners also received a bouquet of flowers and sash.
Prior to the announcement of the Miss WHF 2012, the audience was entertained by cultural troupes such as ‘Giring-Giring Bamboo’ from Sumatera, Indonesia, Sungai Asap (Belaga) Orang Ulu Cultural Group and the Orang Asli Jo’oh Mah Meri from Kampung Bumbun Selangor.
A theme play – The adventure of Kumang and Keling based on Iban folklore – was performed before the start of the Miss WHF 2012 programme.
Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg was the guest-of-honour at the event. Also present were Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Talib Zulpilip, Tourism Ministry permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik who is chairman of WHF 2012 and Sarawak Cultural Village general manager Jane Lian Labang who is also organising chairperson of WHF 2012.
Tags: WHF 2012 | World Harvest Festival 2012 | World Harvest Festival | Sarawak Cultural Village | Dayak | Dayak Culture | Gawai | Borneo | Kuching | SCV |

FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2012

Gawai Special Package Launching on 18 May 2012 in Sarawak Cultural Village

 

 
The Gawai Special Package is for those who wish to experience authentic Gawai celebration; where you must venture to a Dayak longhouse and join in the festival activities of the people. This is the most common advice to all those who are new to Sarawak’s Gawai celebration which falls on 1st & 2nd June annually here. Gawai is actually a social and religious festival of the Dayaks, comprising mainly of Iban and Bidayuh native tribes as Thanksgiving Day marking bountiful rice harvest and for plans and activities for the next planting season.
 
 
Jointly organized by Ministry of Tourism Sarawak, Tourism Malaysia, Sarawak Tourism Board and Sarawak Cultural Village, the package is one unique experience for all participants in a unique and conducive environment. Living in the Sarawak Cultural Village is itself a memorable experience as the village is a representative collection of Sarawak’s various ethnic groups’ traditional homes. Located at the foothills of Mount Santubong, the award winning village is surrounded by forest, river and just a short drive from the capital city, Kuching.
The package was launched by Minister of Tourism Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg on 18 of May 2012, and said in his speech that the package will be available from now until 30 June 2012. He added that the package will be an invaluable experience for tourists.
About 40 members of the media and travel agents from Sabah and East Malaysia, were present during the launching and they had the chance to visit Kubah National Park, Matang Wildlife National Park, Semonggoh Wildlife Nature Reserve. They had a pleasure of cycling around the city too organised by Tourism Malaysia to have a feel prior to the Kuching Bike Ride event on 27th of May, 2012. They spent a night in Sarawak Cultural Village to experience what the package is all about and to join the celebration of the event on Friday. Then they spent two nights at 360 Urban Resort and went home on Monday.
Datin Amar Ju’maini Tun Bujang was also present including Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board state director Ahmad Johanif, Sarawak Cultural Village General Manager Jane Lian Labang, and Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Talib Zulpilip, and members of the media and invited guests. 
Aband Johari is confident that the package would help increase foreign tourists arrivals even if Sarawak was facing some flight route issues. He added that this month was the busiest for Sarawak Cultural Village as many visitors wanted to experience Gawai for themselves, and join in on the World Harvest Festival later this month.
Upon arrival at Sarawak Cultural Village, guests and participants will join in the ‘Pun Ramyai’, ‘Miring’ led by a ‘Lemambang’ and a toast of ‘Ai Pengayu’. Pun Ramyai is a Tree of Fortune which signifies the fortune of the people for the upcoming celebration and Miring is a customary offering ceremony to mark many activities of the villagers. Lemambang refers to the poem chanter prior to the start of many activities and Ai Pengayu is the rice wine served during the ceremony to signify long life. All these activities are carried out in a merry making celebration participated by the villagers and so guests will also be invited to join in.
Following a host of other interesting activities, all the Special Gawai Package participants will go on a short jungle trekking at the Mount Santubong foothills where they have the opportunity to catch sight of monkeys, lizards, and fascinating pitcher plants to tall imposing trees. That short outdoor excursion served the best reason for a relaxing session in the Sarawak Cultural Village theater where cultural performances featuring various ethnic dances will be held.
The evening dinner is an eagerly anticipated affair as participants assigned to different groups will be preparing dishes for the dinner. This ‘Do-it-yourself’ collective effort is called “Berapi Kitai” and participants learn first-hand the preparation and cooking of traditional recipes of the ethnic groups. Following dinner, the most interesting event then unfolds, “Makai Begulai” where participants watch and learn from the traditional dance experts the intricate steps of the dances. The merry dancing is always a challenge to visitors as they try to imitate their hosts’ nimble steps and body twists as well as learning to strike the gongs at the rhythmic paces. Before retiring for the night, participants will all symbolically roll up the mats on the floor to symbolise the end of the night’s celebration. Known as “Ngling Tikai” it provides a fitting end to a wonderful sharing of cultures and traditions between the people.
Breakfast the next morning is an interesting selection of Orang Ulu fares. “Mirup Lekadchang” or breakfast will be an opportunity for the participants to sample some Orang Ulu food in the village. On a later part of the morning, the participants will once again get their hands into making traditional Iban biscuits using local ingredients. Commonly referred to as “Ngadu Penganan” the biscuit making experience gives guests an insight into the simple exercise of making tasty biscuits. Lunch comes next and it will feature Bidayuh food selections. Expertly prepared by the senior Bidayuh mothers, “Netas Pun Ranyai” also marks the end of the wonderful experience of the participants in the Special Gawai Package at the Sarawak Cultural Village. Depending on the choice, the special package is priced at RM399.00 per pax for 2-days 1 night stay while the RM499.00 (3-days 2 nights) and RM599.00 (4-days 3 nights) are also available. This inaugural launch of the special package is certainly going to attract record number of participants so book early to avoid disappointment. Any inquiries that you have regarding the package you can e-mail to Ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com or browse through at www.SarawakBorneoTour.com.
Tags: Gawai | Gawai Special Package | Sarawak Cultural Village | SCV | Kuching | Dayak | Iban | Bidayuh | Longhouse | Celebration |

WEDNESDAY, MAY 23, 2012

Ritchie - The Semenggoh Orang Utan's Idol

Ritchie - The Orang Utan's idol

 

The most famous orang utan in Sarawak, Borneo will be Ritchie. Ritchie is the oldest living male orang utan in Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation here in Sarawak, Borneo. Born in 1981, Ritchie is now 31 years-old and weighs about 31 kilos.

Orang utans are a species of great ape found only in South East Asia on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, although evidence of their existence has been found in Java, Vietnam and China. The gentle red ape demonstrates significant intelligence, with ability to reason and think and is one of our closest relatives, sharing 97% of the same DNA as humans.

Ritchie is the dominant alpha male of the pack, and he is like the king of the jungle here at the Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation. He rarely makes an appearance in front of tourists who come and visit the centre, so it is sometime really hard that we get to see him around.

He's very active among the orang utans in the centre, and said to have very strong arms where he swings from tree to tree.

Ritchie is said to be very smart where he was seen to open a coconut by himself, drinking the coconut juice first before opening up the coconut shell to eat the pulp. His favourite foods are fruits and coconuts.

Every time when Ritchie makes an appearance, the orang utans will keep their distance from him, as Ritchie is known to be aggressive against other orang utans. It was said that he once got into a fight with a fellow male orang utan named George in the centre. George was moved out from Semenggoh and was placed at Matang Wildlife Centre.

So if you guys are interested in seeing orang utans in their natural surroundings, Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation will be a good choice.

Semenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre is undoubtedly one of the best attractions in the Kuching area. It offers the opportunity of getting close to some highly mischievous, semi-wild Orang Utan. Semenggoh became the first forest reserve in Sarawak in 1920. It was turned into a wild life rehabilitation centre for monkeys, Orang Utans, honey bears and hornbills in 1975.

The aim is to reintroduce as many of the animals as possible to their natural habitat, as many had been orphaned by logging or were being illegally kept as pets. There is more to see in the morning as the young monkeys and Orang Utans are put back in their cages at 3pm. The best time to visit Semenggoh is during feeding time, which takes place between 8.30-9am and 3-3.30 pm.

Go to www.SarawakBorneoTour.com for more info or e-mail us at Ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com for any inquiries.

Tags: ritchie orang utan | borneo sarawak | best kuching hotels | Semenggoh Ritchie | Ritchie orang hutan | Kuching Semenggoh. |

TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 2012

Come And Celebrate Gawai With Us At Sarawak Cultural Village

Gawai Festival is celebrated all over Sarawak, Borneo but the best choice to personally experience the celebration as a traveller will be the capital city of Kuching. Come to Sarawak Cultural Village - which is the same venue used annually for the Rainforest Music Festival - is a popular and convenient place for tourists to learn more about Sarawak's indigenous cultures.
 
Sarawak Cultural Village has the reputation of being the finest ‘living museum’ in Southeast Asia, which combines history, tradition, the lifestyle and architecture with a dash of education and portion of the theatre to create a unique multi-cultural extravaganza.
 
Now Sarawak Cultural Village is offering Special Gawai Packages for tourists who wish to celebrate Gawai Festival and get up close and personal with the Dayak people. Sarawak Cultural Village is offering tourist the Gawai Special Package. Held from 18th of May until 30th of June, tourist will get up close and intimate with the Dayak people, mainly Iban and Bidayuh and celebrate Gawai Festival while experiencing their culture and traditions. There are also various activities for a tourist to participate in learning the cultures of the Dayak people. For those who are curious on what Gawai is all about and want to experience it for themselves check out www.SarawakBorneoTour.com on what we have to offer.
 
Gawai Dayak Festival in Kuching is great fun; Iban and Bidayuh families’ offer guest with gallons of rice wine and real longhouse-style home cooking. Gawai Special Packge is a chance to get the feel of celebrating the festive Dayak season up-country, in the village and longhouses. This is a chance of spending your holiday in Iban Longhouses and Bidayuh villages, and has a great time in both, while experiencing something different and plus you get to get close with nature.
 
Gawai Festival is a celebration of good harvest. The Dayak communities celebrate this festival to give thanks to the gods for the good monsoon resulting in a plentiful harvest. This festival brings along all the members of these communities who eat, drink and dance together.
 
The festivities start right from the end of May and continue till the middle of July. Clothed in the traditional dress, everyone takes part in the various cultural functions. The elders however perform the traditional rituals. There are ample food and drink on offer for everybody. Tuak, wine (made from rice) and a wide variety of other food items are served.
Don’t forget to click on to www.SarawakBorneoTour.com and you can e-mail your inquiries to Ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com.
Tags: Sarawak Cultural Village | Sarawak | Borneo | Dayak | Gawai | Iban | Gawai Dayak | Bidayuh | Kuching City | living museum | Rainforest Music Festival | Gawai Celebration | Iban people celebration | harvest festival | rice harvest festival | Selamat Hari Gawai |

What Is Gawai Festival All ABout?

Every year the Dayaks of Borneo, Sarawak celebrates the Gawai Festival where the word Gawai means a ritual or festival on June 1 every year. Dayak is a collective name for the native ethnic groups which consists of the Iban and the Bidayuh people. Gawai Festival is celebrated as both religious and social occasion where the Dayaks normally visit (also commonly known as 'ngabang' to the native tongue) friends and family on this day.

The manner of festivity varies from place to place. But usually the necessary preparation starts early. Tuak (rice wine) is brewed (at least one month before the celebration) and rather traditional delicacies like penganan (cakes from rice flour, sugar and coconut milk) are prepared. As the big day approaches, everyone will be busy with general cleaning and preparing food and cakes. On Gawai Festival Eve, glutinous rice is steamed in bamboo (ngelulun pulut). In the longhouse, new mats will be set in place out on the ruai (an open walkway which runs through the entire length of the longhouse). The walls of most bilik (rooms) and the ruai are ornamented with Pua Kumbu (traditional blankets). A visit to clean the graveyard is also conducted and offerings offered to the dead. After the visit it is important to bathe before entering the longhouse to ward off bad luck.

The celebration usually begins on the evening of May 31st. In most Iban longhouses, it starts with a ceremonial rite called Muai Antu Rua (to cast away the spirit of greed), signifying the non-interference of the spirit of bad luck in the festivity. Two children or men each dragging a chapan (winnowing basket) will pass each family's room. Every family will throw some unwanted article into the basket. The unwanted articles will be tossed to the ground from the end of the longhouse for the spirit of bad luck.

Around 6 pm or as the sun sets, offering (known as miring) rite will take place. Before the ceremony, ritual music (gendang rayah) is performed. The Feast Chief thanks the gods for the good harvest, and asks for guidance, blessings and long life as he waves a cockerel over the offerings. He then sacrifices the cockerel and a little blood is used together with the offerings.

Once the offering ceremony is done, dinner is then served at the ruai. Just before midnight, a procession up and down the ruai seven times called Ngalu Petara (welcoming the spirit god) is performed. During this procession, a beauty pageant to choose the festival's queen and king (Kumang & Keling Gawai) is sometimes conducted. Meanwhile, drinks, traditional cakes and delicacies are served.

At midnight, the gong is beaten to call the celebrants to attention. The longhouse Chief (tuai rumah) or Gawai Festival Chief will lead everyone to drink the Ai Pengayu (normally tuak for long life) and at the same time wish each other "gayu-guru, gerai-nyamai" (long life, health and prosperity). The celebration now turns merrier and less formal. Some will dance to the traditional music played; others will sing the pantun (poems). In urban areas, Dayaks will organise gatherings at community centres or restaurants to celebrate the evening.

Other activities that may follow the next few days include: cock-fighting matches, and blowpipe and ngajat competitions. On this day, 1 June, homes of the Dayaks are open to visitors and guests.

Traditionally, when guests arrive at a longhouse, they are given the ai tiki as a welcome. From time to time, guests are served tuak. This would be called nyibur temuai which literally means "watering of guests".

Christian Dayaks normally attend a church mass service to thank God for the good harvest.

Gawai Dayak celebrations may last for several days folks, so check us out on www.SarawakBorneoTour.com to come and celebrate Gawai with us. We have various packages including homestay programmes so your Gawai Festival experience would be an exciting one. Any inquiries you can e-mail us on Ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com.

Tags: Tuak | Gawai Festival | Sarawak | Borneo | Dayak | Gawai | Iban | Gawai Dayak | Bidayuh | Kuching City | Gawai Dayak | longhouse |

Looking Forward To Gawai

The Gawai Festival is celebrated with excitement across Sarawak, Borneo in both cities and rural villages, Gawai Festival is a multi-day cultural festival to honour the native people of the Dayak community which consists mainly of Iban and Bidayuh.
 
They celebrate Gawai Festival on the first and second of June every year. Gawai Dayak is an up-to-date version of Gawai Padi, the rice harvest festival traditionally celebrated by both the Iban and Bidayuh people, to give thanks for a successful harvest.
 
More than just a touristy demonstration of indigenous culture for tourists, Gawai Dayak is celebrated with genuine joy and enthusiasm. Weddings take place, singing and toasts fill the air, and families are reunited with one another after being separated all year.
 
The traditions celebrated during Gawai Dayak are ancient, but the holiday is not. The first Gawai Dayak festival took place in 1965 after several years of renewed cultural pride within the oppressed Dayak community. When first asked to create a public holiday in celebration of the Dayak people in Sarawak, the colonial government refused; they were afraid that other minority groups would make similar demands. Instead, the government declared June 1 as "Sarawak Day". Eventually, once Sarawak was awarded independence, the holiday was officially changed to Gawai Dayak.
 
More than just a demonstration of indigenous culture for tourists, Gawai Dayak is celebrated with genuine joy and enthusiasm. Gawai is an occasion for parties, fun and games, processions and ‘open houses’. At rural dwellings, especially in roadside villages and remote villages, guests are expected to taste tuak and eat at each household. Thus in a 30 door Iban longhouse with a family living behind each door, it means partaking in festivities over and over again. Music and dancing usually follow to liven up the mood.
 
In Kuching, celebrations start a week before with colourful street parades and cultural activities. On the eve of the Gawai, a grand state dinner is held at the Civic Centre with singing, dancing and a beauty pageant which culminates in the crowning of several Gawai Queens, one each for Iban and Bidayuh communities.
 
Obviously, Gawai Dayak is the best and the most interesting time to visit Sarawak as you can see and sample the lifestyle and its festivities. All visitors are warmly received and accepted as new friends even if they happen to be strangers. It is a happy time for all concerned.
 

For those who are curious on what Gawai celebrations is all about and want to experience it for themselves come and check out www.SarawakBorneoTour.com and see what we have to offer. You can e-mail your inquiries to Ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com for more information or book online directly.

Tags: Tuak | Gawai Festival | Sarawak | Borneo | Dayak | Gawai | Iban | Gawai Dayak | Bidayuh | Kuching City | Gawai Dayak | longhouse | celebration |

Meaning Of Gayu Guru Gerai Nyamai

You must hear a lot of the local people say Gayu Guru Gerai Nyamai during the jovial season of Gawai but what does it means? It actually means long life, health and prosperity in the Iban language The Ibans has many festivals called ‘Gawai’ but the most popular celebration would be the ‘Gawai Dayak’ (harvesting festival). During such festival, besides the customary observance of ritual, there is usually a lot of drinking of the locally brewed rice wine called tuak, much merriment and dancing called ngajat and displays of elaborate traditional costumes.

“Gawai” or festivals are often held at the end of the Rice Harvest throughout most parts of Sarawak, Borneo and this is a celebration of unity, aspiration and hope for the Dayak which mark the end of the rice harvest and usher in another year of bountiful goodness. During this festival, almost everyone dresses in traditional costumes while the elders perform traditional rites.

First celebrated on 1st June 1965, it is the feast for the eyes with its colourful rituals, traditional music, cock fighting, feasting and games. It is simply a time for merrymaking.

Tuak (rice wine) and an array of traditional food are generously served. Widespread celebrations are held not only in the main cities and towns but also in the interior settlements. Gawai is an occasion for parties, fun and games, processions and open houses.

In remote villages, guests are expected to taste tuak and eat at each household. Another popular alcoholic beverage being served during Gawai is langkau. Langkau is made from fermented rice wine (tuak) and cooked in a barrel with a little hose hanging off the top of the barrel. The alcoholic levels in langkau is much stronger and is said to be the Sarawakian version of vodka. Music and dancing usually follow suit (which consists of mostly joget or dangdut hits).

In Kuching, for instance, celebrations start a week before with colourful street parades and cultural activities. On the eve of the Gawai, a grand state dinner is usually held with singing, dancing and a beauty pageant, which culminates in the crowning of several Gawai Queens, one each for Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu communities.


Obviously, Gawai Dayak is the best and the most interesting time to visit Sarawak as you can see and sample the lifestyle and its festivities of other various Dayak communities. So if all this interest you, come and check us out at www.SarawakBorneoTour.com and see what we have to offer to bring the experience of the Gawai Celebrations to you. You can e-mail your inquiries to Ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com for more info.

Tags: Tuak | Langkau | Gawai Festival | Sarawak | Borneo | Dayak | Gawai | Iban | Gawai Dayak | Bidayuh | Kuching City | Gawai Dayak | longhouse |

TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2012

Experience Bidayuh Culture at Kampung Benuk Homestay Programme

If you want to learn and experience the different cultures existing in Sarawak, the best way is to live or stay with the local people. There are 19 kampongs and longhouses of various ethnic groups in Sarawak, and Kampung Benuk is one of them. Be prepared to be fascinated and enchanted by their culture, festivals and traditions.

Kampung Benuk is located 34km from Kuching City and is the nearest homestay for visitors or tourists who wish to experience life in a native longhouses. The homestay is an ideal transit for those who are going to and from the Borneo Highlands (Annah Rais) and the city. The Bidayuh culture is sacredly preserved amid rapid development taking place in the village, and their daily activities are mainly traditional farming (planting paddy, rubber, pepper and vegetables). It has a population of 3000 with some living in traditional longhouses while the rest lives in a typical modern Bidayuh Village.

Kampung Benuk Homestay programme offers visitors with an excellent exotic culture, warmth and friendly hospitality along with nature at its finest. Benuk Homestay is one of the very few surviving Bidayuh Longhouse in Borneo, Sarawak. Benuk Homestay is one of the best opportunities to truly enjoy the experience of living among rich traditional lifestyle of a Bidayuh community.

Enjoy Bidayuh traditional dishes here in Kampung Benuk
Be ready to receive a warm welcome from us! :)
Among the attractions available at Kampung Benuk Homestay is a mini museum which houses various historic Bidayuh relics, Panggah (where skulls are kept), river crossing on bamboo bridge, the Skuh Gung mini cave, the Legendary Batuh Junk (Junk Stone) and not forgetting the Bidayuh traditional longhouse.
Bamboo bridge crossing at Kampung Benuk Homestay

Various activities are also offered here and among them are; jungle/ mountain tracking: paddy farm cultivation (traditional farm), rubber garden (rubber tapping demonstration), and pepper gardening (briefing on pepper). For nature lovers, Kampung Benuk homestay offers unique flora and fauna with the village surrounded by dense jungle plus the Semenggoh Nature Reserve (Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre) being only a few kilometers away from the village.

You can check out Kampung Benuk Homestay packages only at www.SarawakBorneoTour.com for the best deals, or you can send us your inquiries at Ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com.

Tags: Benuk | Kuching homestay | homestay in Kuching | kuching village homestay | Bidayuh homestay | Benuk Homestay | Sarawak | Kampung Benuk | Semenggoh | Kuching longhouse | Sarawak longhouse | sarawak culture | bidayuh culture | bidayuh traditions | Kuching City |

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY21, 2012

Kuching city from the eyes of the Historical buff

 

 

Kuching city for history buffs,  is one town that will tickle their fancy with its rich history as well as monuments and buildings that has survived and standing  since the colonial days.Established sometime in 1841, it has changed with time and declared a city in 1986.

For those who wish to travel and encounter the wonders of  historical Kuching, I would suggest to the budding traveller to take lessons of history one at a time by walking around town, the Heritage Walk would be a good tour. Besides, most of the interesting places are located nearby the Kuching waterfront, and it’s all within easy walking distances.

From the Kuching Waterfront, it’s highly recommended to get across the river with a small wooden sampan, called “penambang”and drop off at the jetty near the Astana, a regal splendor built in 1870 commended by the Second Rajah, Charles Brooke as a bridal gift for his wife, Ranee Margaret. Later it was known as the Government House  and it now serves as the official residence of the Yang di-PertuaNegeri Sarawak (Governor of Sarawak) and the New Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Building located on the north bank of the river.

Another building left by the legacy of the Second Rajah is Fort Margherita, named after his wifeRanee Margaret; it is located to overlook the long stretch of river approaching Kuching and houses many canons and artillery ammunitions.

First stop would best be the Old Court House, built in 1874 which used to house all government office and venue for state ceremonies. The building was made from iron wood and decorated with beautiful engravings. High court proceedings and numerous state council meetings have taken place there from the 19th century till September 2000. In 2003, the building was converted into Sarawak Tourism Complex.

Brooke Memorial Monument, standing at six metres high at the entrance of the Court was made from granite, built to honour the second Rajah, Charles Brooke and commissioned in 1924. The monument had a bronze panel to represent the various races in Sarawak. The colonial baroque Clock Tower behind the memorial was added in 1883.

The next stop in this charming Kuching city would be the Square Tower which was originally built as a prison butwas later converted into a dancing hall for the colonial masters and quarters for the servants. This Square Towerwas built in 1879which was a fortress but is now a multimedia information centre and video theatre.

Sitting next to Square Tower is the Sarawak Steamship Building that was built in 1930 which served as the office and warehouse of the Sarawak Steamship Company. Now, after extensive restoration it now houses a restaurant and convenience store.

Kuching Post Office is located right across the road, a white colossal building with imposing pillars,striking neo-classical style architecture built in 1931, initially built as a police station and a horse stable. It is said that the Post Office is the only building constructed using the Corinthian columns in this part of the world.

One of the many unique buildings in Kuching would be the Pavillion which was built in 1909. It has a rather odd shaped building regarded as a architectural enigma with a mix of late English Renaissance and colonial architecture. It used to be the general hospital but was later converted into a textile museum.

The Sarawak Museum in Kuching is located further up the street with symbolic canons of the White Rajahs of Sarawak placed on its compound. Built during the era of the White Rajah in 1891, the museum is reputed for having the most comprehensive collection of artifacts including arts and crafts of the indigenous people of Borneo.

Come to Kuching and visit these historical places, and if you find these entire information handful, this is just the tip of the ice berg as we have more to offer.

Tags: kuching city | kuching tours | kuching holiday | kuching hotel | sarawak museum | cat museum | rajah brooke | kek lapis sarawak | sarawak cultural village | rajah brooke | |

Memorable Time Travel at Kuching Waterfront, Sarawak

 

A walk along the Kuching Waterfront was like taking a journey into time. The history and heritage of Kuching, Sarawak, were laid in full colour the whole 1 kilometre stretch. Also called “The People Place”, Kuching Waterfront was a kaleidoscope of the past, the present and the future, with a harmonious blend of the new and modern with the old and traditional. From being a small settlement and river port during the days of the English adventurer, James Brooke, in the 19th century, Kuching Waterfront had developed into a picturesque landscaped esplanade, and even powered with environmentally-friendly solar energy in the extension phase.

The Kuching Waterfront ran parallel to the Sarawak River, and was basically like a middle child sandwiched between the Sarawak River and Main Bazaar, a place packed with shops selling souvenirs, food, and arts and crafts. But unlike most middle child, Kuching Waterfront was full of charm and unique characteristics. Its wide and long walkway was tiled with eye-catching ethnic designs and motifs, perfect for abstract close-up shots of the contrasting swirls and whorls. Also spread along the pavement were numerous carts displaying local handicrafts and souvenir items and kiosks selling local food and beverages, in case you got hungry or thirsty from walking.

My walk on Kuching Watefront began from the Kathulistiwa Café, which meant “equator”, located opposite the Riverside Shopping Complex. Sauntering along, under the cooling shades provided by the cluster of trees and shrubs and welcoming the light breeze of the afternoon, I was letting any tension or stress fall away from my shoulders. There were locals and visitors enjoying the Waterfront: some loitering about, some sitting on benches, chatting or just people-watching. I could see more traders setting up their carts or stalls, preparing their food and wares for the growing crowds in the evening. They were friendly, a few bestowing warm smiles and calling out greetings of “hello” or “good afternoon”.

There were a couple of gazebos built on the edge of the Kuching Waterfront and the Sarawak River, where you could sit and gaze upon the line of speed boats bobbing up and down, berthed along the Waterfront side. Or you could look further out to watch with fascination the tambangs (small boats), gliding noiselessly as they ferry passengers across the river, for less than RM1.00 per person one way. Boarding the tambang took some dexterity due to the lightness of the small narrow boat, which would naturally sway and wobble according to the moving tides or waves. But being able to view the Sarawak River up close was worth the fleeting heart-thumping situation.

Another heart-thumping sensation would be watching multi-ethnic and traditional musical and cultural performances at the mini amphitheatre, which used to be a godown or warehouse by the dockside in the old days; hence its name – Godown Amphitheatre at the Kuching Waterfront. Capable of seating up to 200 people easily, the amphitheatre with its funnel-like membrane roofing exuded a cosy and vibrant atmosphere during night performances, while functioning as a sheltered area for rest and relaxation during the day or in between performances.

Nearing the last leg of the Kuching Waterfront, other historical buildings and structures of times gone by began emerging: the red Chinese Pavilion with its intricate designs of Chinese deities and floral motifs; the white Square Tower, small yet stately that had transformed from being a prison to a fortress, then a dance hall and now a multi-media information centre; the Sarawak Steamship Company Building, which used to be an office and warehouse but was presently the Waterfront Bazaar housing a food and beverage outlet, a convenience store and a variety of shops selling souvenirs and crafts; and the Chinese History Museum, steeped with historical facts and figures, images and exhibits about Chinese cultures, traditions, pioneers, leaders, languages and dialects in Sarawak. It was indeed a feast for the eyes.

Nonetheless, the feasting of Kuching Waterfront would not be complete without mentioning the musical fountains on the Waterfront Square, creating spectacular night views with fast streams and jets of splashing, tinkling water, dancing to the rhythms of piped music, and highlighted by a rainbow of colourful lights; and in the shadowy background, stood the Square Tower, modest yet regal in its stature.

A peek across the Kuching Waterfront revealed additional breathtaking sights, with bright lights illuminating their distinctive architectures, shining like beacons on the banks of the Sarawak River; they were Fort Margherita, built in 1879 on a knoll as a defence line against pirates; followed by the Astana (palace), the official residence of the Governor of Sarawak; and next to it was the latest addition to the spacious river landscape, the new State Legislative Assembly complex completed in 2009, arising with imposing majesty, and distinguished by its iconic payung (umbrella) roof design.

After the thoroughly pleasant walk, it was time to feed my growling stomach and what better place to sit back, have some snacks and chill out than the James Brooke Bistro on the Kuching Waterfront, where the ambience was great, service was good, food was okay, and drinks as well as beers were reasonably priced. What a fantastic way to end the evening and my memorable time travelling, spanning more than 130 years, on the Kuching Waterfront.

Tags: travel to Kuching | trips to Kuching | Sarawak river | waterfront Kuching | the waterfront lodge | lodge Kuching | Kuching hotels |

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY19, 2012

Shake Your Booty at the Rainforest World Music Festival 2011

 

Shake it to the right, shake it to the left, shake it all around… shake them booties to the pulsating beats of the Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching city of Sarawak! The madness was here again with an adrenalin rush that would grip you and leave you spent, yet wanting more. I am talking about the contagious fever of the Rainforest World Music Festival, a well-known and much anticipated 3-day international musical extravaganza organized by Sarawak Tourism Board annually in the month of July.

Held in the heartland of Borneo, specifically at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Santubong area, 35 kilometres from Kuching, Sarawak, the Rainforest World Music Festival is renowned for its diverse representation of world music. Tickets to the Rainforest World Music Festival were grabbed up so fast it would make anyone’s head spin. I was lucky to be allocated two tickets, valued at RM110 per ticket, sponsored by my company, and before you could say “Wonderful”, I had invited my best buddy to go with me. We did not attend the music workshops during the day due to work commitments, but we definitely went to the music performances that evening, a night you would not want to miss.

Driving from Kuching City to the Rainforest World Music Festival pick-up point in Santubong took about 40 minutes, a bit longer as there was more traffic on the road. No private vehicles were allowed to drive directly to Sarawak Cultural Village; the main venue of the Rainforest World Music Festival located another 10-15 minutes drive away. From the pick-up point, we took the transfer coach, costing RM5 per person one way to the Rainforest World Music Festival.

What a sight to behold… there were hundreds and thousands of people, milling and gathering around the entrances, surrounding compounds and stage areas of the Rainforest World Music Festival; and at a glance, more than half of the people there were overseas visitors. That was how popular and famous the Rainforest World Music Festival had become after its first inception in 1998, making this year 2011, its 14th year as the largest and most successful music festival event showcasing traditional, fusion and contemporary music from around the world.

I briefly browsed the local handicrafts on sale at the Rainforest World Craft Bazaar held in conjunction with the music festival, but was not interested enough to buy any. On the other hand, the colourful range of ceramic pottery and ethnic-designed costume jewellery appeared to be hot items, especially with foreign visitors who presumably bought them as souvenirs.

The Rainforest World Music Festival had evolved over the years to become a major social event, and that was part of its worldwide or international appeal, because where there were people of varied backgrounds, young and old, music, food and drinks, including beers and wine, all gathered in one place, there were bound to be plenty of merrymaking!

This year, the countries where the music bands participating in the Rainforest World Music Festival, came from Australia, Canada, Dominican Republic, Eastern Europe, Finland, France, Iran, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Senegal, USA and Vanuatu. Of the 21 bands represented, the favourites were Frigg from Finland, Joaquin Diaz Band from Dominican Republic, and Lisa Haley and the Zydecats from USA. Malaysia’s representatives included Agungbeat from Sabah and Masters of Sape from Sarawak.

All the bands were good but the fast exciting Afro-Caribbean merengue music by Joaquin Diaz of the Dominican Republic ruled the evening, as did the lively and energetic Louisana music by Lisa Haley and the Zydecats of USA. Lisa Haley is a grammy nominee who played progressive Louisana music in her own neo-traditional zydeco/Cajun style. The rhythmic beats combined with the intense atmosphere filled with diverse musical repertoire at the Rainforest World Music Festival were electrifying.

Surprisingly, in the midst of the huge boisterous crowds, standing room only, we met a couple of friends, ready to party long into the night and have a funky great time at the Rainforest World Music Festival. First came the beers and after five rounds of “one-go”, my buddy was dizzy and feeling the effects of the alcohol. Fortunately I was the designated driver and only had two beers, sipped slowly. Next on the list were red wines and by this point, we decided it was time to leave and head homeward.

We took the transfer coach back to the pick-up point and carefully drove back to Kuching. The ride back turned out to be longer than usual, as it was interspersed with abrupt stops for throw-up sessions by my buddy, about 4-5 times, I believe. I was considerably sober and looking forward to next year’s Rainforest World Music Festival and another unforgettable musical experience.

Tags: music festival events | music of the rainforest | rainforest music festival | Sarawak Borneo music | music Sarawak |