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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 |

FRIDAY, MAY 09, 2014

Uniquely unforgettable Longhouse Experience in Sarawak

 

PART 1: Semenggoh Orang Utan

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  I was looking forward for the trip on the first day with Joey, my friendly tour guide and two tourists from Madrid, Spain called Danni and Ann.
 
 
 
  As I looked up the skies, I could see that the weather was good even though it was little bit cloudy. We started off our journey at 8 am from Singgah Sana Lodge in downtown Kuching. While waiting for Joey, we made preparations and checked to see whether we have everything in our backpack.
 
  When we were inside the van, Joe gave us a briefing regarding the rehabilitation centre since it was important for us to know about the rules and regulations when looking at the Orang-utans. He gave us this list of   DO’s and DON’T’s once we arrived.
 
The DON’T’s
 
1)      Do not bring food or drink during the trip as they are sensitive to smell
        2)      Do not use a stick or your fingers to point at the Orang-utans as they will consider it as a   challenge
        3)      Do not use flash while taking pictures as they will be shocked and would possibly attack you.
        4)      Do not attempt to touch the Orang-utan younglings as their mother is very protective.
        5)      Do not stare directly into their eyes as it will provoke them.
        6)      Do not stand too near the Orang-utans for safety reasons.
        7)      Do not bring a camera tripod. They will think that it is a weapon.
 
The DO’s
 
        1)      Do be careful when walking. Orang-utans might perch on the treetops doing their business.
        2)      Always look up as some young naughty Orang-utans tend to throw stones or tree branches
        3)      Do RUN if the shelter ranger told you to do so!
 
  It took us at least an hour’s journey from Singgah Sana Lodge to the rehabilitation centre took us. The journey time can be extended to a further 15-30 minutes if the traffic is busy. We arrived at our designated destination by 9 am. We walked down the trail and followed our guide. We had our first sight of the Orang-utans at our first pit stop.
 
  We were fortunate to see a mother Orang-utan and her child coming out from bushes. Although it was their feeding time, they do not seem to be eating at all. As we walked along the trail, we could see a signboard with all the Orang-utans’ name written on it. It somehow reminded me of the old Western style ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ poster. 
 
 
 
  When I interviewed one of the rangers named Mr. Mustadza, he told us that the Orang-utans’ names were given after the staff who worked in the rehab centre. Some were named after famous people. One of the Orang-utans here is called Ritchie. The 35 year old Ritchie weighs around 150 to 160 kg. He got his name from James Ritchie, who was a famous photographer as well as a journalist. Somehow, Ritchie did not make his debut appearance on that day. However, we were happy enough to see a female orang-utan called Seduku and her child along the way. Seduku was initially nervous when she encounters a large number of tourists. She tends to carry her child behind her back as if she is trying to prevent humans to take her child away.
 
 
 
  Some of the rangers advised us to keep our distance at least 5-6 feet away from them. Her child was just 5 months old. One hour later, Seduku’s husband, called Anwar, came out. Anwar is lazier and is less protective over his child since he prefers the attention from the photographers. However, we still needed to be cautious and alert just in case anything goes wrong.
 
  According to the rangers, there have been cases where rangers were attacked by the Orang-utans last year. One of the trails where this incident happened was closed for safety reasons. They might look cute and fragile but they can be very aggressive. A ranger told us that the orang-utans are just like humans with their own mood swings. We even learnt some amazing facts about Orang-utans. Do you know that their DNA resembles human DNA by at least 90 to 95 percent? I guess that explains their mood swings. One of the wildlife centre rangers was attacked last year by a female Orang-utan called Hot Mama. This fiery Orang-utan is legendary for her short temper and aggressivenes.
 
 
 
 
  Mustadza explained that the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre was meant to be a rehabilitation centre for Orang-utans and other wildlife. The Semenggoh Wildlife was finally open to the public after receiving enthusiastic public interest and enquiries. Mustadza goes on to explain that the general public wanted to see the wildlife roaming around in a natural setting rather than being caged. I can’t help but agree with him on that point. Seeing these marvellous Orang-utans and other wildlife moving freely in this beautiful wildlife centre is indeed a breath taking and awe-inspiring moment!
 
 
 
  After spending an hour in the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre we followed our guide and headed off to the pepper farm where the famous Sarawak black pepper is produced. As we looked forward to this next part of our trip, we were glad that we had the chance to see the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre and its colourful inhabitants.

 

 

PART 2: Sarawak Pepper Farm

**********************************************************************

Our next stop was the pepper farm, which is about one hour's trip from the Semenggoh Wild Life Centre. During our short trip to this wonderful farm, we had   the privilege of discovering the secret behind Sarawak’s well known black pepper farm. I have heard of both locals and tourists giving wonderful feedback on the world famous Sarawak Black Pepper.
 
 
 
  We also saw some grinding machines that are used to produce the wonderful Sarawak Pepper that we have grown to love, especially here in Sarawak. These grinding machines were designed with two sections, namely the right and left section. The right section of the grinding machine is used to produce low quality pepper. The left section on the other hand is reserved for making premium quality pepper.
 
 
  The old machine, which was put up for display purpose, also functions the same way as the new machine apart from the fact that  it was made out of wood and needed to be operated manually.  The old-fashioned grinding machine that we saw in the pepper farm works by the operator to turning the hand-operated round lever. The new machine on the other hand only requires the operator to pour in the pepper seed and let it do the grinding on its own. 
 
 
 
  After we had our fill of observing the fascinating method on how pepper is produced in this farm, we embarked on our three hours journey to Nanga Ukom longhouse. On our way to Nanga Ukom, we made a quick stop at a small town called Lachau to buy some gifts and a few necessities that would be useful for the longhouse community we were planning to visit. I bought some small packets of food for the children of the longhouse. The Spanish couples settled for some bags of salt since our tour guide mentioned that these things are much needed the residents who would otherwise have to travel some distance to town in other to get them.
 
 
  We began to notice that the clouds were getting darker so we proceeded with much haste. We hope that that it will not rain until we reached our destination. We finally arrived at Nanga Ukom at around 4.30pm. From here, we will continue on to the longhouse by boat. Our tour guide was fortunately sensible enough to arrange transportation with the boatmen in advance. We will spend 45 minutes on the boat before finally reaching Nanga Ukom longhouse. The boatmen had to make several stops along the river, turned off the boat engine and navigated by oar through some narrow parts.
 
 
  We were lucky that our journey down the river to Nanga Ukom longhouse was pleasant. In fact, the dark cloudy skies eventually receded and gave way to sunny weather. We were initially very afraid that it would rain and we might end up having to delay our trip. The unspoilt view along the river was very breath taking indeed. After 45 minutes on the boat, we finally reached the vicinity of Nanga Ukom longhouse. From here, it’ll just be a 10 minutes walk towards the hills of Nanga Ukom before we reached the longhouse. We just simply can’t wait to meet the residents of Nanga Ukom longhouse and get to know more about the traditional Iban living. I’m sure that’ll be something to write about!

PART 3: Nanga Ukom Longhouse 

*****************************************************************************

The moment we arrived at Nanga Ukom longhouse Sarawak Jared, the assistant to the tuai rumah, warmly greeted us. Jared functions as a secretary to the longhouse chief, tuai rumah by recording the names of any visitor that visits Nanga Ukom longhouse
 
 
  We took a deep breath, settled down for a while and had a little chat with the longhouse residents. As I walked around, I noticed several peculiar objects that were hung all over the long house area. These objects were present in every corner of the longhouse. I asked Jared about these curious objects. He then proceeded to tell me an interesting tale about the object.
 
 
  The Iban people of Sarawak called these objects Piring Ampun. The Piring Ampun serves as a memorial for those who have recently departed. The Piring Ampun is hung on every corner of the long house as a sign for the departed spirits to ask them to go to the next world in peace as their time in this world has ended. The Piring Ampun is hung for a duration of 100 days starting from the date of the deceased’s time of death as the Iban believe that it’ll take the recently departed 100 days to reach his final destination. Food is put on the Piring Ampun as a sign of offering for the departed spirits. I was fascinated by this tale since although I’m an Iban boy I grew up in the city and have never heard of Piring Ampun.
 
The longhouse chief, tuai rumah returned to the longhouse at around 5.30pm. He greeted us warmly and sat down with us. The relatively young tuai rumah, at the age of 28, gave us a tour of the longhouse. He invited the Spanish couple to watch the cock-fighting event or locally known as Sabung Ayam, which they politely refused! As for me, I took the opportunity to watch this traditional longhouse past time. I can see some residents bringing up their best roosters for the event. In this event, the participants from either the same longhouse or another longhouse would pit their roosters against each other to win the bets that are placed on the winning rooster. However, I didn’t manage to catch the exciting part of the cock-fighting event, as both of the roosters in this cockfight were reluctant to fight each other, which was then considered as a draw.
 
 
 
  Our dinner at 7.30pm consisted of mouth-watering traditional Iban cuisine such as chicken cooked with ginger, green vegetables and jungle ferns. I also managed to observe an interesting thing that evening. The tuai rumah’s father was treating his grandson who was down with fever. He smeared a twenty-cent coin with a white sap powder, put in on his grandson’s stomach and recited some prayers. This was the first time that I have even seen a traditional Iban medicine at work.
 
  Later, we all gathered at the hallway and were treated to an enchanting Ngajat dance performance accompanied by the sound of a beating gong. The tuai rumah’s father started the dance and two young ladies then joined him in. The beauty of the Ngajat dance is something that you must experience within the traditional longhouse setting.
 
 
 
 
 
 
  After the dance, the longhouse chief, tuai rumah served us Tuak, a traditional wine made from either rice or sugarcane, to us. The taste is uniquely different from the typical beer or liquor. We are then entertained with some stories.
 
  We were told of the significance of an Iban tattoo that decorated most of the resident’s bodies. Tattoo is like a marker for a person’s rite of passage. When a young man is newly married, a tattoo will be carved on his body before he leaves the community. It is a sign that the boy has reached maturity. Even until today, when a person is about to leave his longhouse, before he travelled, a tattoo will be carved on his body as a reminder on his roots. In the distant headhunting past, a tattoo on an Iban warrior’s knuckle signifies the number of enemies that he has slain.
 
  We also learnt about that evening was on how the next longhouse chief, tuai rumah is selected. The newtuai rumah is a male selected from the previous tuai rumah’s own bloodline based on his capabilities and maturity. If the tuai rumah has no sons, he will have to marry of his daughter and pass down the title to his future grandson. The tuai rumah may only decline appointment by resigning once he took office. The office of the tuai rumah is for the duration of five years.
 
  We then had a history lesson about Nanga Ukom longhouse Sarawak. It was founded 29 years ago by the tuai rumah’sgrandfather who moved from the jungles of Batang Ai to be close to the river. Several families subsequently joined him and settled here up to this day. The Nanga Ukom residents worked as farmers and fishermen. They would travel downriver toLubok Antu to sell their produce at the market.
 
  The tuai rumah then explained to us about customary Iban marriage in Sarawak. In the past girls were married off at the age of 15 or 16. Nowadays, they would be given the choice of getting married at 18 after finishing school to go on to look for employment. The couple wishing to get married must first seek out the tuai rumah and request for a marriage. The tuai rumah would normally consent. If a couple wishes to divorce, they will bring the matter up to the tuai rumah. They would have to explain to the tuai rumahabout the reason for the divorce.
 
  After the long story session, our first day ended. We kept ourselves warm by wearing long sleeved clothing as we slept in the cold longhouse.
 
 On the second day of our trip, we woke up at 7 am, had breakfast and readied ourselves for our journey back. We then walked back up the same trail that led us to Nanga Ukom to see how the locals make blowpipes.
 
 
 
  Dani and Ann, the Spanish couple, bought some beautifully made handicrafts. The intricately made and beautifully carved blowpipes and wooden shields on display here really fascinated me. The price was even cheaper here compared to downtown Kuching.
 
 
 The blowpipe that we saw was made out of high-grade quality ironwood. It can last for more than a hundred year. The blowpipe was around 10 inches long, about the same length as a British Musket.  If you want to use the blowpipe, you would have to insert one or two bamboo darts inside it. You will then blow through it to hit the target in front of you.
 
 
 These bamboo darts were lethal as they were usually coated with poison that can cause the victim to fall unconscious. In the past, the headhunters use the blowpipes before decapitating their target.
 
 
 When James Brooke landed in Borneo, he encouraged the locals to use guns. The blowpipe was supposed to be passed down from one generation to another. It is not meant be given away or sold. 
 
  Our tour guide and the Spanish tourists went in for a walk into the jungle for the next 45 minutes. They wanted to see various types of plantations and crops. As my sports shoes were in a bad condition, I had to wait for them from inside the boat. I took more pictures of the dangerous trail that the residents of NangaUkom have to go through daily.
 
 
 
  We learnt that what makes the Nanga Ukom culture so beautiful was than the unity that the Nanga Ukomresidents have as one family under one roof. They treated us with great warmth and welcomed us like family member. It felt really good and refreshing despite of the short time we spent there.
 
  You definitely must spend some time with the people of Nanga Ukom longhouse and get to know them better. They were eager for us to learn of their culture as well. It was an extremely amazing and fulfilling experience. Although we were tired and exhausted from the long journey, we all agreed that it was worth it. The visit to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, the pepper farm and the sharing of our time with the Nanga Ukom longhouse residents will leave us a long-lasting memory of the wonders and beauty of this land I call home.
 
Tags: lemanak longhouse | iban longhouse | nanga ukom longhouse | sarawak longhouse | bidayuh longhouse | |

WEDNESDAY, MAY 07, 2014

All in a day's work to cook Bubur Pedas

Bubur pedas is the most difficult dish to make. It was not that hard actually, but to make this dish, you need to spare a lot of time. For most people, they need to prepare the powder mixture before cooking the real porridge. You can buy the powder mixture, but for my family, we will dedicate a day just to make the powder, since it will be for six families. This is one of the annual family gathering that we cannot miss. Plus, you will need all the help you can get if you need to prepare 15kg of bubur pedas powder.

 

Bubur pedas

 

We were supposed to meet up at my Udak’s home in Semariang at 10:00am. By the way, we Sarawakians called our aunts and uncles with names such as Wa for the eldest, Anjang, Ngah, Mok, Udak, Achik, Yak and Usu for the youngest. I believe there are others and in Peninsula Malaysia, they have different titles. I still did not manage to figure out how they arrange these titles according to their ranks, because one of my aunts is called Aunty, maybe because they ran out of titles, and since that aunt is an English teacher.

 

Anyway, at 10:30am my aunt started calling people up because nobody shows up at the allocated time. We were still at home, preparing to leave the house, so we arrived there at 11:00am. They already started the preparation process.

 

When we arrived, there were big plastic bowls on the table and people around the table were busy with slicing the ginger, onions, lemongrass and shallots while some others were peeling the lengkuas (galangal). Since I wanted to avoid dealing with the turmeric at all cost, I rushed to the only empty chair to slice the ginger. Everybody knows that turmeric equals disaster. In the end, my mother and sister were forced to peel them.

 

Slicing the ingredients for bubur pedas powder

 

“What’s wrong with the ginger? Can’t it be bigger?” my Aunty pointed out sarcastically when we were almost done with the slicing. Only then did I look at the humongous slices of ginger filling the big bowl. It was not my fault, is it? Since I am not the only one slicing the ginger, I cannot take all the blame.

 

So, when I was forced to slice the turmeric and risking four days of orange colour on my fingers, we decided to mince them to avoid my aunt’s sarcasm.

 

We stopped for lunch. While we were busy with slicing and mincing, my Udak was at the kitchen preparing lunch for us. This is one of the reasons I love about family gathering. All of my aunts are great cooks, including my mother. Even if they were not, I still love the atmosphere at these occasions.

 

We sat on the floor with the spread of food in front of us. There were plates of Ayam Pansoh (cooked in pot, not bamboo), cencaluk (fermented small shrimps), umbut masak lemak (coconut shoot cooked with coconut milk), ulam mangga and umai. The umai was made from ikan yu (small shark?) so it was less popular among my aunts and cousins but since umai is one of my favourite foods; I gobbled it down in no time.

 

Mixing all the ingredients before frying them in the wok

 

After lunch, we resumed working. The grated coconuts, spices and dried chillies were fried without oil separately. Two big woks were put on the portable stoves, and all the sliced ingredients were mixed together with uncooked rice. Then, a smaller portion of the mixture was fried without oil in the big woks. This was the most tiring stage in the whole process, because you need to stir the mixture continuously and endure the heat from the wok. This needed to be repeated until all the mixture was fried.

 

Frying the mixture in a big wok

 

All of the mixture needs to be mixed with the fried grated coconut. Then, a small accident happened when my Achik wanted to put the grated coconut into the giant pot. She sprained her leg while attempting to stand up from a crouch resulting in spilling quite a lot of the grated coconut.

 

Apart from that, the process went smoothly. We just need to put the mixture into the food processor. However, since there was only one blender, the process took about one hour to complete.

 

While saying our goodbyes, I looked at the big containers of bubur pedas powder and secretly feeling relieved as the trouble of making bubur pedas had ended for this year.

Tags: Bubur Pedas Sarawak | Sarawak Traditional Food | How to make Bubur Pedas | Ingredients to make bubur pedas |

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 | |

FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 2013

The Land of Wind - Bario, Sarawak

The town of Bario, located on the northern part of Sarawak, is not only the home of Kelabit and Penan tribes (both belonging to the Orang Ulu ethnic group) but also the source of  exotic food and crafts. Lying at an altitude of about 3,500 feet above sea level in the north-eastern corner of Sarawak is the famous Bario Highland. Bario is blessed with cool weather with temperatures that could go down as low as 11° Celsius. It has 14 villages with a population of 2,000 people.

Bario Sarawak

Image courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bario

 

The name Bario is a combination of the words ‘Ba’ and ‘Rio’. ‘Ba’ means paddy field, while ‘Rio’ means wind. The majority of residents in Bario is of Kelabit descendant, one of the minority Orang Ulu tribes of Sarawak, formerly known as headhunters and warriors in the past but now successful planters and farmers. Although the highlands are named after the Kelabits, it is actually home to many other groups such as the Penan and Lun Bawang. The Lun Bawang, who are the same group as the Lun Dayeh in Sabah, are the predominant people around Ba Kelalan in the northern part of the highlands. All of them are collectively known as the "Orang Ulu" or "People of the Highlands".

 

A gateway to Kelabit highlands is made possible by flying to Bario with MASWings from Miri.

 

Most of the area's accommodation is found in and around Bario, and it is the main starting point for treks throughout the area. You can go kayaking or immerse in the historical tales of the monoliths that dot the area. The place has incredible organic food such as the famous Bario rice and pineapple.

 

One of their annual events is the internationally known Bario Food Festival also known as 'Pesta Nukenen', held in July each year since year 2005. Nukenen means food in Kelabit. It was relatively small when it first began but now it has become larger, made popular with the fact that visitors could get the chance to savour the famous Bario rice and pineapple during the festival while taking in the wonderful highland setting.

The Land of Wind Bario Sarawak

 

The festival had grown larger in scale and included jungle-trekking packages, historical site visits and longhouse homestay experience. It attracted visitors not just from Malaysia but also as far Japan, England, Australia and Denmark. All visitors were pleasantly surprised to find that the local food that they savoured were not only cooked traditionally albeit using wooden stove, but also served on leaves and bamboos, making the entire experience refreshingly eco-friendly. Fish, venison and other hunted animals were also cooked in the mixture of various ingredients indigenous to Bario.During Nukenen Fest, various products – from crops to wild products to Orang Ulu crafts – were exhibited and sold at the E-Bario Telecentre.

 

It can get quite chilly in the evening so do bring a sweater. Daytimes are usually warm and humid, especially when struggling through thick forests while trekking. The rainy season is between October and February.

Pay a visit to Bario, Sarawak by flying with MASWings to visit the 'Pesta Nukenen'and experience the life of Sarawak inland.

Tags: Bario | Borneo Sarawak | Kelabit | Penan | Bario Highland. Orang Ulu | Best Kuching Hotels | MASwings | Lun Dayeh | Pesta Nukenen | E-Bario Telecentre |

THURSDAY, APRIL 25, 2013

Main Reasons Why Sabah And Sarawak Must Be your Ultimate Destinations

  Sabah and Sarawak are two different locations in Borneo Island. The word Borneo has been there since year 1839 when James Brooke made his first landing in Kuching city itself with his ship by the name of The Loyalist. Ever since then, the White Rajah has been governing Sabah and Sarawak for several generations, which eventually gave Sabah and Sarawak a new chapter.

 

  As time flies by, Sabah and Sarawak now becomes the ultimate destination for domestic and international tourist spot. Both Sabah and Sarawak have so much to offer when it comes to travel. Be it for family vacation, business trips or personal visits.

 

If you are still unsure what Sabah and Sarawak have to offer you, then here are the main reasons why Sabah and Sarawak must be your ultimate destination.

 

 

Food

  Food alone is more than enough to represent the cultures in both Sabah and Sarawak. In Sarawak, places like Kuching City, is a heaven for food lovers on their personnal blogs. Some even described the taste of food in Kuching itself, is like a fantasy and filled with all sorts of colours and presentations.

 

  In Sabah, food such as the Sago worm is an exquisite dish that you can find in the jungle. It is usually served deep fried or you can eat after it is boiled.

Culture

  Both local and international tourists have so much to learn when it comes to culture. For an example, a visit to the longhouse deep within the heart of Sarawak is something to look forward to. Although it is generally known as longhouses, the ethnic groups in Sarawak especially the Ibans are divided into a few different ethnics as can be seen from their ethnic Ngajat dance have different version in the longhouse.

 

  If it is in Sabah, the most unique cultural dance you will find is the Bobohizan dance. Performed by a group of Papar Kadazan, the Sazau Bobohizan dance will be performed by the priestess. The dance is used to send spirits of the dead to a different realm known as Pongouvan.

 

 

Challenges

  The UNESCO heritage site, Mount Kinabalu or the Pinnacles in Mulu National Park will fulfill that desire.

 

  As for Mount Kinabalu, for those who had the experienced of climbing Mulu Pinnacles, Mount Kinabalu is much easier for them, but if you are a first timer, Mount Kinabalu is hard enough to be tackled for a first timer.

 

  Both offered different challenges respectively. Then again, most tourists who took up the challenge on climbing up Mulu Pinnacles mentioned that it was not easy getting up there. It is not just only about the weather, but also the mind and physical toughness is something that you need to prepare before you can attempt the climb Mulu Pinnacles.

 

 

Beautiful Rainforest

 

  The archipelago of rainforests both in Sabah and Sarawak, have been preserved and labelled as protected rainforests in the world. Visiting either one, will let you see how these rainforests in each state tend to grow on top of one another creating a beautiful canopy like you have never seen before.

 

  If you are tourists who happen to be doing some research and looking for new medical discoveries, then you might want to try out Sabah and Sarawak as the million years’ old rainforests will give you rare insights.

 

 

 

Historical values

 

  Every city has a story to tell. And every state changes from time to time leaving historical footprints behind. The Kundasang War Memorial in Sabah is a place where relatives and families of fallen heroes will gather and reflect back on their sacrifices. Those fallen heroes, consist of British and Australian soldiers who marched a total of 160 mile and leaving only 6 survivals to tell their tales.

 

  In Kuching, one of most prominent historical site it is the Kuching City Waterfront itself. Before it was converted into a Waterfront, it was also known as a place for early settlements of the sea Dayaks.

 

  Then in year 1864, after the landing of James Brooke, Chinese businesses started to grow like mushrooms. And the historical business district can still be seen across the road of the entire whole stretch of Kuching Water Front.

 


 

Festive Seasons

 

  Due to the mix culture in Malaysia, especially in Sabah and Sarawak, you will have the Christians, Chinese, Dayaks, Indians and Malays. The different believes and ethnicities, is what makes Malaysia unique. For an example, the Chinese will celebrate the Chinese New Year, Moon Cake Festival, Wesak Day and Chap Goh Mei. As for the Dayaks, it would be the Gawai festivities. Muslims on the other hand will celebrate Hari Raya which is also known as Eeid Season by international Muslims. Christians as usual, will be Christmas and Indians would be the Deepavali.

 

  With all the mixed ethnicities, during the festive seasons, you will see different kinds of cookies and food laid out on the table.

 

 

Food is cheap

 

  Food in Sabah and Sarawak is still considered cheap. All you need to bring is RM 10 in your pocket to have a decent meal and a glass of water from those outdoor street cafes for the day.

 

 

World Rainforest Music Festival

 

  Usually held every year, in the middle of June, the sound of traditional music comes from all over the world and can be heard during this time of the year. During the event itself you will get to hear music from other parts of the world and watch live performances.

 

 

  The above reasons would be good enough for you to decide to pack your bags and head over to Sarawak and Sabah in Borneo.

Tags: Sabah and Sarawak | Borneo Island | Sabah and Sarawak Food | Mount Kinabalu UNESCO Heritage | Mulu National Park | Mulu Pinnacles | Borneo Rainforest | Sabah Sarawak Rainforest | Sabah War Memorial | Kundasang War Memorial | World Rainforest Music Festival | |

MONDAY, APRIL 22, 2013

Most Memorable Trip in Borneo- Day One & Day Two (Part 3): The Nanga Ukom Long House

  The moment we arrived at Nanga Ukom longhouse Sarawak Jared, the assistant to the tuai rumah, warmly greeted us. Jared functions as a secretary to the longhouse chief, tuai rumah by recording the names of any visitor that visits Nanga Ukom longhouse
 
 
  We took a deep breath, settled down for a while and had a little chat with the longhouse residents. As I walked around, I noticed several peculiar objects that were hung all over the long house area. These objects were present in every corner of the longhouse. I asked Jared about these curious objects. He then proceeded to tell me an interesting tale about the object.
 
 
  The Iban people of Sarawak called these objects Piring Ampun. The Piring Ampun serves as a memorial for those who have recently departed. The Piring Ampun is hung on every corner of the long house as a sign for the departed spirits to ask them to go to the next world in peace as their time in this world has ended. The Piring Ampun is hung for a duration of 100 days starting from the date of the deceased’s time of death as the Iban believe that it’ll take the recently departed 100 days to reach his final destination. Food is put on the Piring Ampun as a sign of offering for the departed spirits. I was fascinated by this tale since although I’m an Iban boy I grew up in the city and have never heard of Piring Ampun.
 
The longhouse chief, tuai rumah returned to the longhouse at around 5.30pm. He greeted us warmly and sat down with us. The relatively young tuai rumah, at the age of 28, gave us a tour of the longhouse. He invited the Spanish couple to watch the cock-fighting event or locally known as Sabung Ayam, which they politely refused! As for me, I took the opportunity to watch this traditional longhouse past time. I can see some residents bringing up their best roosters for the event. In this event, the participants from either the same longhouse or another longhouse would pit their roosters against each other to win the bets that are placed on the winning rooster. However, I didn’t manage to catch the exciting part of the cock-fighting event, as both of the roosters in this cockfight were reluctant to fight each other, which was then considered as a draw.
 
 
 
  Our dinner at 7.30pm consisted of mouth-watering traditional Iban cuisine such as chicken cooked with ginger, green vegetables and jungle ferns. I also managed to observe an interesting thing that evening. The tuai rumah’s father was treating his grandson who was down with fever. He smeared a twenty-cent coin with a white sap powder, put in on his grandson’s stomach and recited some prayers. This was the first time that I have even seen a traditional Iban medicine at work.
 
  Later, we all gathered at the hallway and were treated to an enchanting Ngajat dance performance accompanied by the sound of a beating gong. The tuai rumah’s father started the dance and two young ladies then joined him in. The beauty of the Ngajat dance is something that you must experience within the traditional longhouse setting.
 
 
 
 
 
 
  After the dance, the longhouse chief, tuai rumah served us Tuak, a traditional wine made from either rice or sugarcane, to us. The taste is uniquely different from the typical beer or liquor. We are then entertained with some stories.
 
  We were told of the significance of an Iban tattoo that decorated most of the resident’s bodies. Tattoo is like a marker for a person’s rite of passage. When a young man is newly married, a tattoo will be carved on his body before he leaves the community. It is a sign that the boy has reached maturity. Even until today, when a person is about to leave his longhouse, before he travelled, a tattoo will be carved on his body as a reminder on his roots. In the distant headhunting past, a tattoo on an Iban warrior’s knuckle signifies the number of enemies that he has slain.
 
  We also learnt about that evening was on how the next longhouse chief, tuai rumah is selected. The new tuai rumah is a male selected from the previous tuai rumah’s own bloodline based on his capabilities and maturity. If the tuai rumah has no sons, he will have to marry of his daughter and pass down the title to his future grandson. The tuai rumah may only decline appointment by resigning once he took office. The office of the tuai rumah is for the duration of five years.
 
  We then had a history lesson about Nanga Ukom longhouse Sarawak. It was founded 29 years ago by the tuai rumah’s grandfather who moved from the jungles of Batang Ai to be close to the river. Several families subsequently joined him and settled here up to this day. The Nanga Ukom residents worked as farmers and fishermen. They would travel downriver to Lubok Antu to sell their produce at the market.
 
  The tuai rumah then explained to us about customary Iban marriage in Sarawak. In the past girls were married off at the age of 15 or 16. Nowadays, they would be given the choice of getting married at 18 after finishing school to go on to look for employment. The couple wishing to get married must first seek out the tuai rumah and request for a marriage. The tuai rumah would normally consent. If a couple wishes to divorce, they will bring the matter up to the tuai rumah. They would have to explain to the tuai rumah about the reason for the divorce.
 
  After the long story session, our first day ended. We kept ourselves warm by wearing long sleeved clothing as we slept in the cold longhouse.
 
 On the second day of our trip, we woke up at 7 am, had breakfast and readied ourselves for our journey back. We then walked back up the same trail that led us to Nanga Ukom to see how the locals make blowpipes.
 
 
 
  Dani and Ann, the Spanish couple, bought some beautifully made handicrafts. The intricately made and beautifully carved blowpipes and wooden shields on display here really fascinated me. The price was even cheaper here compared to downtown Kuching.
 
 
 The blowpipe that we saw was made out of high-grade quality ironwood. It can last for more than a hundred year. The blowpipe was around 10 inches long, about the same length as a British Musket.  If you want to use the blowpipe, you would have to insert one or two bamboo darts inside it. You will then blow through it to hit the target in front of you.
 
 
 These bamboo darts were lethal as they were usually coated with poison that can cause the victim to fall unconscious. In the past, the headhunters use the blowpipes before decapitating their target.
 
 
 When James Brooke landed in Borneo, he encouraged the locals to use guns. The blowpipe was supposed to be passed down from one generation to another. It is not meant be given away or sold. 
 
  Our tour guide and the Spanish tourists went in for a walk into the jungle for the next 45 minutes. They wanted to see various types of plantations and crops. As my sports shoes were in a bad condition, I had to wait for them from inside the boat. I took more pictures of the dangerous trail that the residents of Nanga Ukom have to go through daily.
 
 
 
  We learnt that what makes the Nanga Ukom culture so beautiful was than the unity that the Nanga Ukom residents have as one family under one roof. They treated us with great warmth and welcomed us like family member. It felt really good and refreshing despite of the short time we spent there.
 
  You definitely must spend some time with the people of Nanga Ukom longhouse and get to know them better. They were eager for us to learn of their culture as well. It was an extremely amazing and fulfilling experience. Although we were tired and exhausted from the long journey, we all agreed that it was worth it. The visit to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, the pepper farm and the sharing of our time with the Nanga Ukom longhouse residents will leave us a long-lasting memory of the wonders and beauty of this land I call home.
 
 
Tags: Sarawak Longhouse | Borneo Longhouse | Long House in Sarawak | Iban in Sarawak | Sarawak Nanga Ukom Long House | |

SATURDAY, APRIL 13, 2013

Most Memorable Trip in Borneo- Day One (Part 2): Trip to the Pepper Farm and Nanga Ukom

  Our next stop was the pepper farm, which is about one hour's trip from the Semenggoh Wild Life Centre. During our short trip to this wonderful farm, we had   the privilege of discovering the secret behind Sarawak’s well known black pepper farm. I have heard of both locals and tourists giving wonderful feedback on the world famous Sarawak Black Pepper.
 
 
 
  We also saw some grinding machines that are used to produce the wonderful Sarawak Pepper that we have grown to love, especially here in Sarawak. These grinding machines were designed with two sections, namely the right and left section. The right section of the grinding machine is used to produce low quality pepper. The left section on the other hand is reserved for making premium quality pepper.
 
 
  The old machine, which was put up for display purpose, also functions the same way as the new machine apart from the fact that  it was made out of wood and needed to be operated manually.  The old-fashioned grinding machine that we saw in the pepper farm works by the operator to turning the hand-operated round lever. The new machine on the other hand only requires the operator to pour in the pepper seed and let it do the grinding on its own. 
 
 
 
  After we had our fill of observing the fascinating method on how pepper is produced in this farm, we embarked on our three hours journey to Nanga Ukom longhouse. On our way to Nanga Ukom, we made a quick stop at a small town called Lachau to buy some gifts and a few necessities that would be useful for the longhouse community we were planning to visit. I bought some small packets of food for the children of the longhouse. The Spanish couples settled for some bags of salt since our tour guide mentioned that these things are much needed the residents who would otherwise have to travel some distance to town in other to get them.
 
 
  We began to notice that the clouds were getting darker so we proceeded with much haste. We hope that that it will not rain until we reached our destination. We finally arrived at Nanga Ukom at around 4.30pm. From here, we will continue on to the longhouse by boat. Our tour guide was fortunately sensible enough to arrange transportation with the boatmen in advance. We will spend 45 minutes on the boat before finally reaching Nanga Ukom longhouse. The boatmen had to make several stops along the river, turned off the boat engine and navigated by oar through some narrow parts.
 
 
  We were lucky that our journey down the river to Nanga Ukom longhouse was pleasant. In fact, the dark cloudy skies eventually receded and gave way to sunny weather. We were initially very afraid that it would rain and we might end up having to delay our trip. The unspoilt view along the river was very breath taking indeed. After 45 minutes on the boat, we finally reached the vicinity of Nanga Ukom longhouse. From here, it’ll just be a 10 minutes walk towards the hills of Nanga Ukom before we reached the longhouse. We just simply can’t wait to meet the residents of Nanga Ukom longhouse and get to know more about the traditional Iban living. I’m sure that’ll be something to write about!
 
Tags: Sarawak Pepper Farm | Sarawak Kuching Pepper Farm | Borneo Kuching Pepper Farm |

Most Memorable Trip in Borneo- Day One: Trip to Semenggoh Wild Life Centre, Kuching

  I was looking forward for the trip on the first day with Joey, my friendly tour guide and two tourists from Madrid, Spain called Danni and Ann.
 
 
 
  As I looked up the skies, I could see that the weather was good even though it was little bit cloudy. We started off our journey at 8 am from Singgah Sana Lodge in downtown Kuching. While waiting for Joey, we made preparations and checked to see whether we have everything in our backpack.
 
  When we were inside the van, Joe gave us a briefing regarding the rehabilitation centre since it was important for us to know about the rules and regulations when looking at the Orang-utans. He gave us this list of   DO’s and DON’T’s once we arrived.
 
The DON’T’s
 
1)      Do not bring food or drink during the trip as they are sensitive to smell
        2)      Do not use a stick or your fingers to point at the Orang-utans as they will consider it as a   challenge
        3)      Do not use flash while taking pictures as they will be shocked and would possibly attack you.
        4)      Do not attempt to touch the Orang-utan younglings as their mother is very protective.
        5)      Do not stare directly into their eyes as it will provoke them.
        6)      Do not stand too near the Orang-utans for safety reasons.
        7)      Do not bring a camera tripod. They will think that it is a weapon.
 
The DO’s
 
        1)      Do be careful when walking. Orang-utans might perch on the treetops doing their business.
        2)      Always look up as some young naughty Orang-utans tend to throw stones or tree branches
        3)      Do RUN if the shelter ranger told you to do so!
 
  It took us at least an hour’s journey from Singgah Sana Lodge to the rehabilitation centre took us. The journey time can be extended to a further 15-30 minutes if the traffic is busy. We arrived at our designated destination by 9 am. We walked down the trail and followed our guide. We had our first sight of the Orang-utans at our first pit stop.
 
  We were fortunate to see a mother Orang-utan and her child coming out from bushes. Although it was their feeding time, they do not seem to be eating at all. As we walked along the trail, we could see a signboard with all the Orang-utans’ name written on it. It somehow reminded me of the old Western style ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ poster. 
 
 
 
  When I interviewed one of the rangers named Mr. Mustadza, he told us that the Orang-utans’ names were given after the staff who worked in the rehab centre. Some were named after famous people. One of the Orang-utans here is called Ritchie. The 35 year old Ritchie weighs around 150 to 160 kg. He got his name from James Ritchie, who was a famous photographer as well as a journalist. Somehow, Ritchie did not make his debut appearance on that day. However, we were happy enough to see a female orang-utan called Seduku and her child along the way. Seduku was initially nervous when she encounters a large number of tourists. She tends to carry her child behind her back as if she is trying to prevent humans to take her child away.
 
 
 
  Some of the rangers advised us to keep our distance at least 5-6 feet away from them. Her child was just 5 months old. One hour later, Seduku’s husband, called Anwar, came out. Anwar is lazier and is less protective over his child since he prefers the attention from the photographers. However, we still needed to be cautious and alert just in case anything goes wrong.
 
  According to the rangers, there have been cases where rangers were attacked by the Orang-utans last year. One of the trails where this incident happened was closed for safety reasons. They might look cute and fragile but they can be very aggressive. A ranger told us that the orang-utans are just like humans with their own mood swings. We even learnt some amazing facts about Orang-utans. Do you know that their DNA resembles human DNA by at least 90 to 95 percent? I guess that explains their mood swings. One of the wildlife centre rangers was attacked last year by a female Orang-utan called Hot Mama. This fiery Orang-utan is legendary for her short temper and aggressivenes.
 
 
 
 
  Mustadza explained that the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre was meant to be a rehabilitation centre for Orang-utans and other wildlife. The Semenggoh Wildlife was finally open to the public after receiving enthusiastic public interest and enquiries. Mustadza goes on to explain that the general public wanted to see the wildlife roaming around in a natural setting rather than being caged. I can’t help but agree with him on that point. Seeing these marvellous Orang-utans and other wildlife moving freely in this beautiful wildlife centre is indeed a breath taking and awe-inspiring moment!
 
 
 
  After spending an hour in the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre we followed our guide and headed off to the pepper farm where the famous Sarawak black pepper is produced. As we looked forward to this next part of our trip, we were glad that we had the chance to see the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre and its colourful inhabitants.
Tags: Kuching Semenggoh Wildlife Center | Borneo Kuching Semenggoh Wildlife Center | Orang Utan Semenggoh Wildlife Center | Sarawak Semenggoh Wildlife Center |

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10, 2013

Let us Tee Off With MASwings Special Promo Fare

  Have you picked your travel dates yet or are you still planning your destination? Are you looking for that affordable flight tickets? Well folks here it is! It is time to Tee Off with MASwings promo fare!
Let’s Tee Off With MASwings promo fare price are from Kuching to Balikpapan at RM 99, Kuching to Pontianak at RM 160, and Kuching to Bandar Seri Begawan at RM 145!
.
You may start your booking now as seats are limited and travel any time before the end of July 2013!
 
 
 
 
 
 
MASwings - Let us Tee Off
 
 
 
 
 
Tags: Kuching | Best Kuching Hotels | Borneo Sarawak | Balikpapan | Pontianak | Brunei Darussalam | MASwings | Sibu | Miri | Bintulu |

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, MARCH 12, 2013

7 Popular Things You Must Know About Sarawak

  Sabah and Sarawak is an archipelago island which combined both places and well known for its nick name as Borneo to outsiders. Its nick named Borneo, have been around since the time of James Brooke who was an explorer and the founder of Borneo Island. The captivating beauty of the inner parts of modern day Borneo Island still remains a mystery. And that is why; adventure awaits you deep in the hearts of Borneo Island itself. But then again it depends on where you are going.

 

  In short, it is an island that one will find it filled with so many exciting things to do and find it hard to decide on what will be next or where to go after this. So here is some guidance for you to get to know Borneo, especially Sarawak first and what makes it so popular that even tourist finds it so tempting!

 

1. Food.

 

  As always places like Sibu and Kuching has a lot of food varieties. Walk around and down a few blocks away you will see food to your left and right. In Kuching, popular foods among the locals consist of Kolo Mee, Kueh Chap, Laksa, Tomato Noodle, Kek Lapis, and not forgetting the well-known traditional food chicken bamboo.

 

  As for Sibu, it is definitely the simple Kampua noodle and its taste is more than what it looks, the black Canarium which is also known by the locals as Buah Dabai, and the local Sibu made burger known as Kompia stuffed with pork savoury which is a must try during your travel.

 

  A good reminder when it comes to food. You might find this impossible but it is possible in Sarawak. You will only need to bring at least RM10-12 (Malaysian Ringgit) for two person when it comes to meal. The average price for a bowl of noodle or a decent complete rice meal with meat will cost you at RM5.

 

Sarawak Laksa at its best and very popular. Not to be missed!

 

2. Tribal Dance

 

  Coming down to Sarawak for sightseeing will not be complete if you do not visit longhouse in Sarawak. From here, you will get the unique taste of rice and sugarcane wine also known as Tuak. Other than that, you will definitely get to learn a lot of new things such as blowpipe activity, and a must do is the tribal dance known as Ngajat.

 

  There are in fact several types of Ngajat dances, among them:

 

Ngajat Induk
Ngajat bebunoh
Ngajat Lesong
Ngajat Semain
Ngajat Berayah
Ngajat Ngemai antu pala

 

Ngajat, Tribal Dance. Your journey to Sarawak will only be complete after doing the Ngajat Dance.

 

  To see them performing  the Ngajat Dance depends on which Iban tribe you are staying with.

 


3. Bario

 

  If you travel slightly up north, there is a small town known as Bario. The best way to get there is to fly. It may not seem much other than experiencing the quiet and green environment but you will be surprise as to how much you can actually really do over here. You will get to see how salts are made traditionally.

 

  Best part of all; be sure not to miss out the collected Bario rice. The rice in Bario is unlike any other rice. It is small, thin and slightly long compared to normal local produce rice. Other than that, its compact size is what makes the rice not only unique in its shape but perfect for meal.

 

  Buying a packet of Bario rice from a local supermarket can be costly. A packet that weighs at least 3 to 5 kg is nearly at RM 40/- (Malaysian Ringgit). So be sure not to miss it out if you ever set your foot on Bario itself.

 

Bario Rice. The finest of all.

 

4. Water Taxi Ride in Kuching

 

  Another unique part in Sarawak is located in the Kuching city itself. As you stroll down the Waterfront Area, you will see a Taxi River. It is a small yellow boat with a Taxi signboard on its top just like a normal cab on land except that this one runs on the Sarawak River itself!

 

  If you are wondering “Are there anymore Rivers Taxi in Sarawak?” The answer is “Well, you are looking at one right now and only in Kuching”. But be sure to check on its operating hours. That is the most important part of all. Or if you would not want to miss a chance, book a ride with your local travel agents.

 

5.  Surrey Bike

 

  It is an addition to our latest culture in Kuching. Riding a Surrey Bike is a rare sight indeed. The Surrey Bicycle is unlike your typical two wheel type. It is with a roof top and runs on four wheels. Other than walking, visitors may now eventually rent a Surrey Bike to go around Kuching city area for one hour.

 

  Moreover, the Surrey Bicycle is the first of its kind to be both in Malaysia and Sarawak.

 

Kuching Surrey Bicycle. A new experience in town not to be missed.

 

6. Mulu Cave

 

  Mulu Cave still remains a mystery to a lot of people. We all do know Mulu Cave was declared as an UNESCO Heritage site long ago, but its depths and size still remains a mystery. In year 2011, one of the section in Mulu Cave was known as the Sarawak Chamber. It was declared as the biggest cave chamber in history.

 

  Even until today, part of the Mulu Cave section known as the Deer Cave is still known as the biggest cave in the world.

 

  Although Mulu Cave was declared as the biggest cave in the world still, no one knows how far and deep can this cave leads to. Studies and researching on the site is still currently on going, though some argue that Son Doong Cave in Vietnam is the largest in the world.

 

Mulu Cave. Excavation project is still under going. No one knows its full depth and heights yet.

 

7. Bujang Senang

 

  Was it a myth or a true story? Bujang Senang is a very well-known story among the Iban villagers residing along the river of Batang Lupar in Sri Aman. It was rumoured the crocodile, known as Bujang Senang was killed in year 1992. It had a very unique white stripe on its back and was roughly 20 feet long!

 

  Then again, although its skull was displayed in the Sarawak Museum Kuching, the locals believed its descendants and family line are still roaming around within the area.

 

  Rumours have that Bujang Senang was actually never caught and sometimes local villagers will tend to catch a glimpse of a huge mysterious white albino coloured crocodile.

 

  For the fishermen who resided in the village, if they caught a baby croc in their fishing net, they will let it go making sure no bad omen shall fall unto their family.

 

  Finally, the name Bujang Senang became so popular and it was used as a local football team name.

 

Bujang Senang or known as Happy Bachelor in English Skull. A crocodile that was killed in year 1992. Believed by the local residents in Batang Lupar, he is still roaming around freely until today. Picture courtesy from Museum Sarawak.

(Picture: Skull of Bujang Senang a.k.a Happy Bachelor credited to Sarawak Museum.)

Bujang Senang Football Club. Named after the popular crocodile.

 (Picture credited to Borneo Post: Football team Bujang Senang in action!)


   Those are the 7 unique local wonders about Sarawak that is worth to know. If you would like to know more, you can actually take a flight to Sarawak and find out by yourself what other wonders you can find! And if you do, do not forget to share it with us and your friends about Sarawak itself and how you define it! Hope to see you all coming down to Sarawak! Cheers!

 

  Come check out our tour Packages at https://www.sarawakborneotour.com/  and book with us now.

 

Tags: Kuching | Kuching Sarawak | Mulu Cave | Ngajat | Bario | Water Front | Surrey Bikes | Bujang Senang | River Taxi Sarawak |

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY02, 2013

Surrey Bike Tour for Greener Kuching

 

Kuching City, the capital of Sarawak is a beautiful city with varieties of secrets. One will never know not until landed in Kuching itself. Located at the Main Bazaar Street opposite Ghee Hoe Hin is a mysterious looking newly opened shop. This week in the beating heart of Kuching City itself, I had an exclusive interview with the Surrey Bike owner.

 

Melvin: Good afternoon sir.

 

Mr Gerald Loew: Good afternoon.

 

Melvin: My name is Melvin and I am from Kuching itself. I heard of your newly opened Surrey Bike shop so I would like to know more about it. But first may I know a little bit about you? 

 

Mr Gerald Loew: My name is Gerald Loew and you can call me Gerald. I am 48 years old and this is my lovely personal assistant. She is my wife. Her name is Mrs Maizan or you can call her Maizan age 38. So, what would you like to know?

 

Melvin: For starters, where are you from?

 

Mr Gerald Loew: I am from Austria itself and my wife here is from Kelantan. We moved to   Indonesia for about one and half years ago. We opened up a small clinic and decided to do it for free to help needy people. We used traditional medical methods to treat our patient.

 

Melvin: So what makes you and your family decided to come down to Kuching and take up the task?

 

Mr Gerald Loew: We heard that there are people in Kuching who needed our services so that was when we decided to get out of our comfort zone and do something new.

 

Melvin: What about the three lovely looking bicycles displayed outside? What are your concepts or ideas behind it?

 

Mr Gerald Loew: Our main idea for the bicycle is for health reasons in the first place. People in this world today, have been using motorbikes, cars and other means of public transports are not in a very good health condition. So, we started the idea with the thought of helping society, by giving them a healthier lifestyle to go around Kuching. What other better ways to view this beautiful city? Besides, we do believe by cycling it also helps to save the environment and creating a greener Kuching.

 

 

Melvin: When you first opened this shop, has it ever occurred to you that people here will mistook it as a rickshaw?

 

Mr Gerald Loew: It happened several numbers of times when we first opened it. It was normal   to us.

 

Melvin: Can you tell us a little bit more about the Surrey Bikes? For an example, its weight and how many people can sit in it?

 

Mr Gerald Loew: Sure! Would love to! These very popular trends of Surrey Bike originated from Austria, weighs at least 130 kilograms for the bigger size. The smaller size is at least 80 kilograms. The bicycle is unlike your ordinary two wheeled type. It comes with a roof, comfortable leather seats, brakes and steering wheel to go around. It is like driving a car.

 

 

Currently, Mr Gerald Loew owns only three of the Surrey Bikes in Kuching which comes in traffic light colours. The bigger size can carry up to four adults and two kids, while the smaller ones which weights at 80 kilos can carry 2 adults and 2 kids. Having a Surrey Bike is a good way for families or couples to go around.

 

Melvin: What is the cost like for one?

 

Mr Gerald Loew: The two smaller units cost RM 7000 while the bigger ones, like that red one over there is at least RM 8000.

 

Melvin: Do you have further plans for these three bikes of yours?

 

Mrs Maizan: My husband was suggesting to me that we can put up head lights on the bike. So that, tourists and public does not only ride it during the day but during the night as well. And perhaps a little bit in future, we have ideas on putting up a simple radio so that when they ride on it, at least they have some entertainment.

 

Melvin: Do you use it to fetch up your kids?

 

Mrs Maizan: Yes we do. Our children enjoy the ride a lot. Even when their classmates wanted to try it out. So we told them to just hop in and give them a short ride.

 

 

Melvin: How much is the rental for these three Surrey Bikes?

 

Mr Gerald Loew: The red Surrey Bike which is slightly bigger than the yellow and green is at RM 25 per hour while the other two is at RM 20                               per hour.

 

Melvin: Do you have any future plans for your Surrey Bike business?

 

Mr Gerald Loew: Yes we do. We are planning to expand the Surrey Bike culture and would like to do it at my wife’s hometown in Kelantan. It will be   interesting to see people in Malaysia trying something new.

 

Melvin: I see. Well, our interview comes to an end and I would to give my personal thanks to you for allowing me to interview you personally and see how does this Surrey Bike works.

 

Mr Gerald Loew: You’re welcome. Would you like to try it for yourself?

 

Melvin: Would love too!

 

When Mr Gerald Loew mentioned the Surrey Bike is not your typical bike he was not kidding at all. It was difficult and heavy. I tried the 80 kilograms. Even to reverse it was hard enough. The Surrey Bike really makes you sweat too. But it was a good experience to try out something new. So, be sure not to miss the spot at the Main Bazarr Kuching! For more information, do contact Mr Gerald Loew for bookings at 016-875 3721 or do contact us for more information at ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com

 

Tags: Kuching Bike Ride | Kuching Surrey Bike | Kuching Bike Adventures | Kuching Bike Tour | Sarawak Surrey Bike Tour | Sarawak Bike Ride | Sarawak Surrey Bike |

THURSDAY, JANUARY 17, 2013

Balikpapan-the hidden treasure of East Kalimantan

 

There's good news for everyone who is itching to go to fly off to a new exciting destination, Balikpapan in East Kallimantan! MasWings is now offering three weekly direct flights from Kuching and Kota Kinabalu to Balikpapan’s Sepinggan International Airport, the second busiest airport in Borneo, starting from 1st February 2013. So hurry up and don’t miss this opportunity to fly and try out MasWings newest destination.

 

Balikpapan in Indonesia is in the country’s province of East Kalimantan. Balikpapan in Indonesia is well known for its booming oil industry. Several multinational oil companies use Balikpapan in Indonesia as their base of operation within the region. Apart from being known as the oil town of East Kalimantan, there are many interesting places and fun things you can you can do in Balikpapan, the second largest city in East Kalimantan.

 

The wonderful city of Balikpapan has a population of over 600, 000 people. With just the right size of population, Balikpapan is neither too big nor too small and thus you’ll never feel as if it’s either too crowded or too small. As a seaport city, Balikpapan Indonesia is very close to the sea. You’d really have to come here yourself to see the beautiful beaches that Balikpapan has to offer.

The warm and friendly inhabitants of Balikpapan, comprising of a mixture of natives and people from all over Indonesia coming here working in the oil industry is one compelling reason for you for you to discover the beauty and charm of Balikpapan.

 

 

 

Once you’ve here in Balikpapan you must be wondering what place you should be visiting in this East Kalimantan city? Well, Balikpapan boasts several interesting places that will surely captivate you during your visit here. For starters, you can visit several of the most well known markets in Balikpapan. To experience a slice of traditional life in Balikpapan you can pay a visit to Klandasan Market within the city. This government-organised traditional market is in Jalan Sudirman. You can browse through the various fresh produce such as fruits, crabs, fish and lobster on display here.

 

Are you interested in bringing back a souvenir as a memento of your visit here in Balikpapan? You can find lots of beautiful local handicrafts and jewelleries at the Garden Inpres Market, which is famous amongst the tourists visiting here. The gemstones on sale here are amongst the cheapest in Indonesia since Balikpapan is very close to where these gemstones are mined. What better way can you find to impress the folks back home than to bring some glittering gemstones back? The well-made handicraft from the local Dayak tribe also on sale here are also no less impressive. You’ll spend hours browsing through the arrays of impressive wares on offer at the Garden Inpres Market.

 

As Balikpapan is a seaport, it obvious that it has a beach where you can stroll along and watch the beautiful sunset and the waves crashing on the shore. Kemala Beach is in Jalan Sudirman right in the city. So, you don’t have to wander far away to get to the beach. How more convenient can you get from this?

As Balikpapan has a number of expats executives either working in the oil industries or flying in out of the city frequently, the range of hotel accommodations here are impressive. The oil industry in Balikpapan really does this city a lot of good when it comes to accommodation. Be rest assured you’ll definitely find your stay here a very comfortable one.

 

MasWings operates its flights weekly from Kuching and Kota Kinabalu to Balikpapan on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. With these three new flights per-week commencing on 1st February, why don’t you try out Balikpapan and discover this unique hidden treasure of East Kalimantan soon? Who knows, you might even want to come back here for a repeat visit!

 

Tags: Maswings | Balikpapan | Klandasan Market | Garden Inpres Market | Kemala Beach | Jalan Sudirman | Kuching Sarawak | East Kalimantan | Kalimantan | Indonesia | Visit Balikpapan | Balikpapan Indonesia | Borneo |

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2012

Borneo Long House Story

Longhouse Story Longhouses in Sarawak and Sabah are actually very different than the longhouses designed in Europe. Europe longhouses architectural materials consist of tough bricks and just a few blocks in one unit. In Sabah and Sarawak, longhouses are made from simple wooden trees, with stilts on it, divided into different section, rooftops made out of leaves and families living inside can be a total of 100 families all in all with a living room which they call it as the Ruai section. Then...

Read More "Borneo Long House Story"

Tags: Sabah Sarawak Longhouse | Borneo Longhouse | Longhouse in Sarawak and Sabah | Annah Rais Long House | Long House in Sarawak | Iban in Sarawak | Borneo Tours |

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2012

Sarawak Kek Lapis or better known as Kek Lapis Sarawak

Sarawak Kek Lapis

 

 

Congratulations to a winner from Ipoh Perak for winning the 20 rolls of Sarawak Kek Lapis which co

 

mes in different colours and flavours. The winner was Cikgu Muhammad Izuddrin or also known as Nematodenz on Facebook.

The competition which lasted for a few weeks, gave him the opportunity to do something creative and funny. The competition theme was Kek Lapis Funniest Videos.  His video was a few minutes length featuring a few number of teachers did the chicken line dancing to humour his students. His video was voted to be the funniest among all.

 

The Sarawak Kek Lapis is a well-known traditional recipe. Most of the time, tourist would not hesitate to buy a pack bag. Kek Lapis got its name from its multiple layered taste and presentation.

 

History:

The Kek lapis was first introduced back in year 1988 from Indonesia. It was said during the Ducth Colonial Era, the secret recipe for Kek Lapis was revealed. Until today the Indonesian most iconic Kek Lapis is Lapis Legit and Lapis Surabaya.

From time to time, the well-known Kek Lapis tend to change recipe in Sarawak. New recipes and flavours are always in the market today. There are several flavours such as Horlick, Milo, Strawberry, Vanilla, Nestum, Chocolate, and so on.

In year 2011, a new innovation of Kek Lapis was introduced. It is known as the Kek Lapis Qalas which combines a mixture of modern techniques and traditional recipes from their ancestors.

The popular Kek Lapis Qalas is another modern taste and flavour touch created by Sarawak. Hence Sarawak Kek Lapis is to be categorized as the modern day Kek Lapis.

 

Preparation:

The recipe for Kek Lapis is never an easy one. It can be divided into two categories. First one is with motifs, shapes and colour while the second one is just plain and simple with two colours.

The requirement to make one is the chef must have a very strong hand or an electric mixer to batter the ingredients. Ingredients consist of eggs, vegetable oil, butter, and other flavours will be mixed together.

When it comes to baking it patience is needed. The strong texture of Kek Lapis is then stuck on together with jam so that it will not come off easily when serving. The battered flavour is then poured bit by bit to make one thin layer each. Once it is done, it will be then baked inside the electrical oven rather than using the gas oven. But of course the best result still comes from using traditional charcoal oven just as how the Dutch did.

The price of the cake depends on the size as well. In Sarawak, a standards size Kek Lapis is 8 inches by 3 inches. Price range is from RM 15 to RM 30/- for a roll.

 

All Occasion Kek  Lapis.

 Sarawak Kek Lapis alone is a perfect gift item for all occasion and celebration such as Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Gawai, Deepavali, and Christmas. It is also a perfect gift for birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings.

The best of all, Sarawak Kek Lapis tastes better with the perfect aroma blend of a cup of tea or coffee when you shared with your love ones.

So come one down to Kuching or Sibu, Miri, Bintulu, and have a stroll around town for a slice of our delicious Sarawak Kek Lapis.

Check out our Sarawak Tour Packages at Sarawak Borneo Tour or join us at http://www.facebook.com/sarawakborneotour

Tags: Sarawak Kek Lapis Winner | Funniest Video Contest by SarawakBorneoTour.com | KuchingTour | Dayang Salhah Kek Lapis Sarawak | |

Exotic Fruits Buah Dabai

What is Buah DABAI?

Have you ever wonder what is that mysterious, shining looking seeds packed up in the boxes that come in red or yellow colour? The answer to your question is Buah Dabai also known as Canarium. In Sarawakian Hokkien Chinese it is called Or Kanna.

Many tend to get confused by the appearance of Dabai. Some call it as a type of vegetation and some will look at it as a fruit and wondering if it is edible. Some even think that it is a type of avocado. Then again it is none of the above.

Buah Dabai is a type of exotic fruits that grows in certain part of the region and consists of 75 types of species.

The fruit tree itself is so large and grows on thick green trees up to 40-50 meters height, with alternate, pinnate leaves.

Its furry leaves are thin and twigs covered with golden brown.

How do I prepare?

Now that you know what Buah Dabai is, so how are you going to eat it and how edible is it?

The Buah Dabai is very edible. No worry as it is safe for eating.

To eat it is simple. Even making it is just like making tea using ready-made tea sachets. Preparation will take a minute or two. Then you are good to go to eat it.

All what you need to do is just fill your Dabai inside a container mix it with hot water. Add a little bit of soy sauce and add either sugar or salt! Close the lid and go do other things while waiting.

Then again, the very fragrant of Dabai depends on your preparation, either sweet or salty.

Cooking is magical. You can even melt a man’s heart with it. As people said, the heart of a man is through his stomach. In Malaysia, the experience of cooking varieties of food is a walk to remember. Here is how you can do it!

As you know, Malaysia is a very well-known mix of culture. As a result we have the Traditional Nasi-Goreng (Fried Rice). Be it Tribal, Malay, Chinese, Indian and even the Free Style! The dish is so simple and flexible that it has no specific methods of preparing it.

As usual, dunk the Dabai inside the hot warm water and close the lid. Except that this it is just plain tasteless Dabai. Once it is ready, peel off everything and leaving only the seed. Both the seed and flesh are actually edible. Once your fried rice is already inside, you can mix it with your ready peeled off Dabai. Stir your fried rice well along with the Dabai inside it to get that perfect blend of taste and aroma.

In Sarawak, if you can find the right place, you will see, Nasi Goreng Dabai on the menu.

The seed is edible. You will have to cut it into half and dig out the flesh inside it using tooth pick. The Dabai inner seed flesh contains lots of calcium which is good for health!

Where to buy?

Dabais are like Durians and it is not your everyday fruit. You will only get it once a year. The price of Dabai ranges differently in kilograms and depends on the seller. But once it is towards the end of the fruit peak season, it gets cheaper as the exotic fruits cannot last for more than a week.

Normally, the best quality Dabai comes from places in Sarawak such as Kapit, Betong, Oya, Sibu, Sarikei, and Kanowit. The freshness of Dabai depends on how the packaging is doneand the soil quality. If you are a far traveller, and you want to try out the Dabai by bringing it back home, you need to pack it properly and make sure it is not exposed to heat. If you do, the Dabai will eventually cook even for a little.

It is a very sensitive fruit even with very little heat exposure; the fruits will be cook with direct sunlight! So do pack and wrap it well.

Why there is a yellow and red flesh Dabai?

The colour is not something for you to worry on. If it is yellow, the flesh is usually thicker than the red ones.

What are you waiting for?! Book your tickets now and come over to Sarawak and have a taste of it.

 

For more inquiries and information, do visit us at:

Tags: dabai sarawak | best kuching hotels | Buah Dabai | Fruit Sarawak | pinnate leaves | |

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 |

FRIDAY, JUNE 08, 2012

Find the best meals at Kubah Ria Baru

 

I would like to bring you guys to see what’s new at the Kubah Ria Baru, which is located not far from Satok area. It is just besides Satok Bridge within the Petra Jaya area. If we take the bridge from Satok we could see the place on our left.
 
As the name suggests, Kubah Ria Baru is considered new in which it was publicly opened in mid-2010. Kubah Ria Baru was built to replace the old Kubah Ria which is quite well known among the local townsfolk. Seeing that it was my first time here what I can say is the place looks beautiful from the outside.
 
The environment is clean and neat, maybe because the place is still new and well maintained by the cleaning staff. Parking lots are available for visitors but with a price of RM1.00 per hour. I you wish to avoid paying for parking fees you can park your car farther a bit and walk in.
 
 
Most of the current stalls are mostly from the previous Kubah Ria stall owner but there are some new ones as well. Pizza Ria is available for those who loves pizza but most of the stalls serve local delicacies such as satay, the infamous mee kolok, chicken rice and laksa Sarawak. There is even a stall that serves 'ayam panggang' or roasted chicken, which reminded me of Kenny Rogers seeing that the chicken was roasted on hot charcoal.
 
For those who would like to have something foreign there are also western and Japanese food available. There are a total of 45 stalls here in Kubah Ria Baru.
 
In terms of price, it is reasonable and quite worth it but you need to pick the right stall. You can choose to order your meal from any stall and sit anywhere you like. The best part of eating here is the view. Located just beside the Sarawak River, the outlook of the whole place is just gorgeous especially during dawn.
 
Be amongst the first to experience the totally new eating environment! If you would like to visit Kuching, Sarawak to see what the city of cats has to offer, you can check us out www.SarawakBorneoTour.com for the best deals or you can email us your inquiries to Ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com. 
Tags: Kubah Ria Baru | Sarawak Borneo Food | Kuching Food court | Best kuching hotels | Kubah Ria Food Court |

TUESDAY, JUNE 05, 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 |

World Harvest Festival

 

The World Harvest Festival 2012 is one of the highlights of the Gawai Dayak celebrations which is an ethnic festival. This will be its eighth year and is organised at the Sarawak Cultural Village from 26th to 27th May 2012, it also helps to bring both locals and foreigners together to experience the true Sarawak culture. World Harvest Festival 2012 is not only synonymous with the festivities of the Dayak, but has come to encompass other ethnic groups in Sarawak as well as the tourists, to help reflect the true Malaysian spirit of the people.

The World Harvest Festival 2012 was introduced in line with Ministry of Tourism Sarawak’s objective to position it as an international event on its tourism calendar. The World Harvest Festival 2012 provides the opportunity for the non–Dayak to understand the cultures, traditions and aspirations of the Dayak community. The awareness and interest created by the festival promises to benefit both the public sector and tourism industry.

Among the many highlights of the World Harvest Festival 2012 cultural event is the theme play held on May 26th, 2012. “Selanting Kuning & the Dragon King”, based on the Bidayuh legend was featured last year and this year it will be on the Iban legend entitled “The Adventures of Keling & Kumang”. What is unique about this theme play is that the whole Village becomes the stage, and the entire play promises to overwhelm the guests in audio and visual splendour.

Another highlight to capture the festival and mood of the guests is the ethnic beauty pageant “Miss World Harvest Festival 2012”. This beauty pageant revolves around the Iban community theme. Fifteen beauties will vie for the coveted title this year, which never fails to add colour and vibrancy to the festival. The proud winner last year was Miss Suljirina Lucas, 27 years old Berawan lass.

As always the Harvest Festival or Gawai is celebrated on a grander scale with the participation of cultural troupes from other countries. This is evident in the International Cultural Extravaganza, with day time workshops. This year our friends from Indonesia and Selangor will be joining the festivities. A series of joint workshop by the locals and the invited troupes will be held during the 2 days festival. This is the ideal time for the visitors to have the opportunity to learn about each community’s traditions, foods and handicrafts.

For those who want to prove their manly prowess, there is the Ironman World Harvest Festival 2012 competition. This is another highlight in the festival that involves 15 finalists who exhibit ‘superhuman’ strength in tackling the traditional based activities like blowpipe shooting, coconut dehusking, 50kg gunny rice lifting, wood chopping and mountain climbing. Last year, Encik Amir Hanafi emerged as the champion.

The WHF promises to be the fun-filled event for the young and old. Bring along your loved ones and make this an affair to remember. What awaits you is a cultural extravaganza like no other. Tickets are on sale for RM60.00 per person (adults) and RM30.00 for children (age 6 - 12 years old) at the Sarawak Cultural Village. Any inquiries that you have regarding the event you can e-mail to Ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com or browse through our interesting packages at www.SarawakBorneoTour.com.

Tags: WHF 2012 | World Harvest Festival 2012 | World Harvest Festival | Sarawak Cultural Village | Dayak | Dayak Culture | Gawai | Borneo | Kuching | SCV |

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 17, 2012

The Delightful Cincalok

 

Cincalok dish in Sarawak is the most delightful, most mouth-watering dish that comes from the sea and the source for such delicacy is the bubuk, or small shrimp.

 
The bubuk season usually starts from Sabah then the exodus will come downwards to Miri, Bintulu, Sibu then Kuching. When the bubuk starts in Sabah it is usually much redder and by the time it reaches Kuching, the bubuk will be very pale in colour. February is when bubuk will start appearing in the waters near the shoreline of Miri – a time much anticipated by both fishermen and bubuk lovers alike. As the season draws near, they will set out with their nets in keen eagerness of a plentiful harvest.
 
After several weeks of waiting, the bubuk season is upon Miri and the catchers are kept busy scouring the waters for the smallish shellfish.
 
As usual, during this time of the year, the seashores of Miri are sprinkled with shrimp-catchers who wade into the water with their nets and containers, looking for the shellfishs no bigger than a grain of rice. According to experienced shrimp-catchers, it’s very hard to estimate where and when the bubuk will appear. One hour, they may be at a certain area but the next hour, they can be somewhere else.
 
The catchers will always have to check the water at random before plunging in for the catch. Many claim the further out to the sea, the thicker the volume of shrimps.
This is what prompts some catchers to use boats but some don't as they supposed it might scare away the shrimps or deter them from moving inshore, hence depriving others of their share of the harvest. Sometimes this sort of situation will often lead to some argument between the boat-users and the ‘waders’.
 
It is said that the best catching times are from 8am to 11am and 4pm to 7pm and generally, during the peak season, a shrimp-catcher can harvest more than 12kgs in a few hours but the fortunate ones can net as much as 30kgs within an hour.
 
There are two types of shrimps – red and white – and they can fetch a good price in the market. When still fresh, the red type sells for RM4 or RM10 for three kgs while the white type, RM10 for four kgs. Miri seashores at Mile 1 and Sri Bima along Lutong-Kuala Baram Road are the ‘hotspots’ for shrimp-catchers and other locations are the Esplanade, Bakam and Kuala Baram.
 
 
For shrimp-cathcer they are able to earn about RM3,000 from bubuk sales and is said that their daily profit is between RM400 and RM450, depending on the catch. The buyers are mostly locals with a few from Brunei. The end of the bubuk season was unpredictable but the month of March is the peak season.
Tags: Cincalok | Bubuk | Shrimp | Sarawak |

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 |

FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2012

Sarawak Baleh River Raft Safari

The Sarawak Baleh River Raft Safari is an electrifying river safari race that begins with a night-long of merrymaking, showcasing the Iban hospitality before the race is launched the next day. Spectators will witness top rafters from all over pitting their physical and mental skills against the dangerous rapids of a 50 km stretch of the Sarawak Baleh River. The Baleh River Raft Safari is an accomplishment that needs accuracy and is very challenging indeed.
Visitors can witness rafters navigating their man-made natural rafts down rapid streams of Malaysia’s longest river; Rejang river Sarawak, to Sarawak’s last frontier town of Kapit. The time and venue are:

Date: 5 - 8 April 2012
Event: Baleh Kapit Safari 2012
Venue: RH Salang Pulau Sibau Mujong, RH Bangkong Ng Banyau Mujong, Kapit River Front and Kapit Town

The Sarawak Baleh River Raft Safari started in 1996 and normally takes place in the month of April. The sport is very challenging. Participants need to steer their rafts through treacherous rapids.

The best part of the Baleh River Raft Safari is that, participants will get the chance to see various cultural multiplicity and ethnic heritage of the native riverine communities. An overnight stay in a local longhouse provides competitors a once-in-a-lifetime insight into the lifestyle of the tribes that call the wild river their life-source and untamed rainforest their home.

The Sarawak Baleh River Raft Safari is an extremely demanding and exciting two-day rafting race, which sees top rafters pit their physical and mental skills against numerous rapids at the 50 km stretch Baleh River. The rafting for the Men's Bamboo Raft Open Category will start from Rumah Minggat, Sungai Oyan, Mujong and stop for a night at Rumah Naong, Batu Bansu, Baleh on the first day.

The participants will resume their rafting from Rumah Naong, Batu Bansu, Baleh and end at Kapit Wharf, Kapit on the second day. On the same day, all other rafts in the Men's Bamboo Raft Closed, Men's Freestyle Raft, Women and Tourists Categories will begin their journey from Rumah Naong, Batu Bansu, Baleh and end at Kapit Wharf, Kapit.

This event is open to international participants so do not miss this thrilling ride of a lifetime. Check out details of the event at www.SarawakBorneoTour.com or e-mail us at Ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com for information.

 
Tags: Sarawak Baleh River Raft Safari | Baleh | raft | river safari | Sarawak | Rejang | Kapit | Baleh Kapit Safari 2012 | Baleh River | Sarawak water sport | Kuching | Borneo |

Benak Festival famously known as Tidal Bore Carnival in Sarawak


River Surfing Fun yo!


Sri Aman is a market town and port, and the capital of Sri Aman District and Sri Aman Division in Sarawak, East Malaysia. Sri Aman is also called Bandar Sri Aman, and was formerly known as Simanggang and has a population of 26,100. Sri Aman in the Malay language means "town of peace ." Sri Aman is located on the Lupar River, it is 193 kilometers, a three hour drive, from Kuching the capital city of Sarawak. It is a trade center for the timber, oil palm, rubber, and pepper of its mostly agricultural district.

Benak is the native tongue for tidal bore, and Benak happens everyday. During spring tide, tidal bore with a high magnitude, it can be observed clearly from distance. The 'Benak' continues its journey for another 30km inland, ending near the small village of Engkili in the same division.

Bores occur in relatively few locations worldwide, usually in areas with a large tidal range (typically more than 6 metres (20 ft) between high and low water) and where incoming tides are funneled into a shallow, narrowing river or lake via a broad bay.
 
Tidal Bore Surfer in Sarawak
Tidal Bore Surfer in Sarawak

The funnel-like shape not only increases the tidal range, but it can also decrease the duration of the flood tide, down to a point where the flood appears as a sudden increase in the water level. A tidal bore takes place during the flood tide and never during the ebb tide. A tidal bore may take on various forms, ranging from a single breaking wavefront with a roller — somewhat like a hydraulic jump — to "undular bores", comprising a smooth wavefront followed by a train of secondary waves (whelps). Large bores can be particularly unsafe for shipping but also present opportunities for river surfing!

There are only five spots in Asia where this unusual phenomena occurs and Sri Aman is sure to provide the excitement and fun to see for ourselves of one of the best waves in the world.
It has become an annual event and held every year. The festival is set to be one of the most exciting tourism destination.

I recommend to all to come over to Sri Aman to feel and experience Benak Festival that will promise only fun and excitement for you.
 
The red circle marks the location of the event.

Book your tours through www.SarawakBorneoTour.com to come and celebrate Benak Festival wih us or you may e-mail your inquiries to Ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com.

Date: 6 - 8 April 2012
Event: Tidal Bore Carnival (Benak Festival)
Venue: Tebingan Batang Lupar, Sri Aman
Tags: Benak | Benak Festival | Sri Aman | Sarawak | Sarawak Borneo | river surfing | surf | tidal bore | tidal bore carnival | Kuching | Kuching City | Sarawak river sport |

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 |

FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2012

Ba'kelalan's Unknown Apple Orchard

 
Ba’kelalan is one of the great enchantments of the Kelabit Highlands and is revered with sub-tropical natural beauty and amazingly fresh weather. Ba’Kelalan is located at the heart of Borneo's notable and oldest tropical rainforest.  

The main village here belongs to the Lun Bawang race, a group of people known for agricultural farming of paddy fields, and especially their mastery in successfully cultivating apples in the highlands. The name Ba’ Kelalan comes from the Kelalan River, while Ba’ refers to wetlands in the Lun Bawang native tongue.

They produce Malaysia’s first apples; sugary and crunchy, absolutely delicious. Other fruits are also grown here, especially mandarin oranges, passion fruit, budding strawberries, vanilla and asparagus.

Take a bite into the crunchy apples will surely erect your taste buds. It is sweet, tasty and amazingly fresh, mostly due to its natural surroundings and almost free of pesticides.

The limited use of pesticides also facilitated in ensuring the apples to thrive in the cool climates of Ba’ Kelalan plus the proper technique of pruning and appropriate use of fertilisers also helped.

There are numerous variations of apples grown here. These are the Ba’ Kelalan (formerly known as Manalagi) apples, Rome Beauty, Tropical Beauty, Lady Williams, Anna apples, Kwanglin and Jonathon.

The farm is now run by former pastor, Tagal Paran, Andrew’s brother. To celebrate the apple harvest, each year an Apple Fiesta is held in Ba’ Kelalan.

Apart from the apple picking, its stunning scenery, the lovely view of the mountains, valleys, rivers, flora and fauna and wildlife are pretty unspoiled and were so for generations. The people inhabiting the area are, likewise, of unique culture and tradition.

Ba’kelalan is a land of the friendly smiles from the young and old. The people will make you feel that you are truly at home and is one of them and, which sets Ba'Kelalan apart from the others.
 


Visitors wishing to experience Malaysia’s delicious apples, picturesque rolling hills and warmth of the Lun Bawang tribe, should visit this unrivalled spot in Malaysia. E-mail us on Ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com for inquiry and we will get back to you soon. You can also check out www.SarawakBorneoTour.com for an overview of Ba’Kelalan packages offered with the best price.
Tags: bakelalan | ba'kelalan | lun bawang | kelabit highlands | apple harvest | sarawak | borneo | orang ulu | ulu tribe sarawak |

Things to Prepare if you are going to Bako National Park for an unforgettable adventure

 

With its rainforest, abundant wildlife, jungle streams, waterfalls, interesting plant life, secluded beaches, panoramic rocky shoreline, bizarre rock formations and extensive network of trekking trails, Bako National Park Sarawak offers visitors an excellent introduction to the rainforest and coastline of Borneo.

Bako may not have an instantly recognisable star attraction, but there can be very few places in the world that pack so much natural beauty into such a limited area, all just 37 km from Kuching. Its accessibility - and its sheer range of attractions and activities - have made Bako National Park Sarawak one of the most popular nature parks in Sarawak.

Bako National Park Sarawak contains an incredible variety of plant species and vegetation types, and this is one of the park’s great attractions it is also probably the best place in Sarawak for wildlife experiences. Visit www.SarawakBorneoTour.com and check out our full-day tour package to Bako National Park Sarawak to experience the nature and see the wildlife of Sarawak's tropical rainforests.
 
 
If you are going for the trip here are a few suggestions on what to pack for the eco-journey. It is recommended that visitors prepare their own checklist for apparel or equipment before embarking on their trek which may be useful or necessary, depending on their plans. In terms of clothing, it is ideal for a visitor to dress in short's and T-shirts when going on trails in the forest, but for extra protection against sunburn on the plateau and against insects in the evening it is highly recommended for visitors to bring along slacks and long-sleeve shirts.

Be prepared for muddy trails in the forest if after rain so it is best for visitors to wear training shoes or comfortable boots with good soles. Take note that it can get very hot on the plateau, so a hat, re-hydration salts and sun lotion may be needed on longer walks.

Water bottles are essential in making the trip, and necessity item on longer walks. To bring enough water for the entire trip may be a challenge for the long trek, therefore it is a good idea to bring water purifying tablets or a water filter since even in the dry season, there are nearly always some flowing freshwater streams encountered along the long trails.
 

A small torch is useful for overnight journeys and rucksack to carry your extra clothes. Bring along a packed lunch and some chocolate, raisins to maintain sugar levels.  Bottled water can be bought at the canteen at the Park Headquarters.

So be sure that you prepare your list of things to bring for the trip, so your Borneo eco-journey would be an enjoyable and hassle-free nature-loving excursion.
So come check out www.SarawakBorneoTour.com for more details for the trip. Email us at Ask@SarawakBorneoTour.com for inquiry and we will get back to you soon.
Tags: bako national park | sarawak | rainforest | kuching | proboscis monkey | mangrove | borneo | sarawak river cruise | bako | sea stack | kampong bako | gunung santubong |

THURSDAY, MARCH 22, 2012

Bako National Park, the smallest national park in whole Sarawak

 

Bako National Park

 

Dry season is the best time to plan your trip to Bako National Park Sarawak, which is from the month of April to October. Boat journey to Bako National Park Sarawak between the month of November to March may be too rough during the monsoon season.

A day trip to Bako National Park Sarawak can be very rewarding, and it is recommended that the journey to Bako National Park Sarawak should begin early in the morning. To fully enjoy the breathtaking experiences that Bako National Park Sarawak offers, an overnight stay or longer should be considered before making the trip.

SarawakBorneoTour.com offers trip to Bako National Park Sarawak, where we can guide you on a day trip, and arrange transport and permit. From Kuching, Bako National Park Sarawak can be reached in two stages-about 45 minutes’ drive on a new sealed road to the park terminal at Kampung Bako, followed by a 30-minute boat ride to the Bako National Park Sarawak Headquarters at Teluk Asam. Taxi fares from Kuching are reasonable and an inexpensive bus service is also available.
 
 
A permit for entering Bako National Park Sarawak and accommodation bookings can be obtained at www.SarawakBorneoTour.com.

The water at the Bako Park National Sarawak Headquarter is too shallow for boats to reach the jetty at low tide. To avoid waiting at Kampung Bako boat terminal, it is advisable to time your arrival during high tide. From the jetty, boats are operated by the villagers at reasonable fares. The boat ride to  Bako National Park Headquarters provide a good view of the mangrove forest that lines the river mouth and bay.

When heading out, the visitor has a splendid view of Gunung Santubong, the mountain on the west side of the bay. The cliffs and bay of Bako Peninsula are on the right. A spectacular sea stack can be seen along the coastal cliffs beyond Park Headquarters. The sandstone forming the stack was modeled by the incessant beating of the waves as well as the chemical weathering in the hot and wet tropical climate.

So click on to www.SarawakBorneoTour.com for more details. Look for Bako National Park Sarawak trip package for the best deals in town.
Tags: Bako | Bako National Park | World Heritage | Sarawak Borneo | Sarawak | Kuching City | Kuching | nature | Proboscis Monkey |

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 | |

Gunung Mulu National Park

 

Gunung Mulu National Park is one of Nature’s most spectacular achievements and the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Sarawak’s expanding network of national parks. It is also the largest national park, covering 52,865 hectares of primary rainforest, which is criss-crossed by fast flowing rivers and clear jungle streams. Mulu is dominated by three mountains – Gunung Mulu (2,376 m), Gunung Api (1,750 m) and Gunung Benarat (1,585 m).

Yet many of Mulu’s greatest attractions lie deep below the surface. Hidden underneath the forested slopes of these mountains is one of the largest limestone cave systems in the world.

Mulu’s four Show Caves were selected for their uniqueness or sheer beauty. Besides the popularly visited Deer Caves, Lang Caves, Clearwater Caves and Lady’s Caves, a more strenuous trek leads to a weird landscape of razor-sharp rock pinnacles.

They can all be visited as day trips from the park HQ and are accessible by plankwalks and well-lit concrete paths. Strategically positioned spotlights highlight the unique features of the individual caves. A plank walk leads through the forest to Deer and Lang’s Cave whilst Clearwater Cave and Wind Cave are reached by taking a longboat up the Melinau River, or by following a 4 km nature trail. The more adventurous can do Adventure Caving.

Permits and a park guide are usually organized by tour operators. Access to Mulu was traditionally by boat, but Fockker Friendship and Twin Otter workhorse flights from Malaysia Airlines rural services are available and shorten daylong trips to 25 minutes and 40 minutes flights respectively.

The Canopy Skywalk, the world’s longest tree-based structure, in Mulu National Park allow visitors a glimpse of life in the treetops of the rainforest. 480 meters of walkway hang 20 meters above the forest floor, forming a circular route suspended between 15 trees with a separate exit tower. To keep human incursions at a sustainable level, visitor numbers to the Canopy Skywalk are carefully monitored. Tour operators need to book canopy walks well in advance, and stay within the stated hours. Up to ten hours per day is available.

At dusk, millions of bats will fly out of the caverns, a very spectacular sight.

Tags: mulu national park | UNESCO heritage site | mt mulu | sarawak | benarat lodge | royal mulu resort | |

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

Semenggoh Orang Utans in Sarawak, our Distance Cousins

 

The orangutan or great ape and humans had held a close connection with each other since time immemorial.  We even shared 96.4% of our genetics make-up with the orangutans.  That was the reason why orangutans had held such strong fascination for us, at times to their detriment.  Young orangutans that were illegally kept as pets for a long time became “no-hopers” because it would be extremely difficult for them to live and survive in the wild on their own.

It was at sanctuaries such as the Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Kuching, Sarawak, that rescued and orphaned orangutans could find a safe haven and be rehabilitated to live in the wild once more.  Established in 1975, Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre is one of the must-see attractions in KuchingSemenggoh Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre is located 20 kilometres away from Kuching City and situated within the lovely 740 hectares Semenggoh Nature Reserve, reaching the Centre just took a 30-minutes drive.

My friends and I arrived at the Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in time for the afternoon feeding time between 3.00pm-3.30pm.  The morning feeding time was from 8.30am-9.00am.  These were the best times to visit the Centre as the semi-wild orangutans would come out of the forest reserve and descent from the trees to the feeding platform to get their food from the Rangers.  Visitors could watch the great apes in action from a safe distance, of course.

Before we headed off to the feeding area at the Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, a briefing was given by the Rangers on what to do and not do when the orangutans appear.  The main idea was to keep still and stay quiet.  A 10-minute walk into the forest trail brought us to the feeding platform area.  The Rangers began placing bananas, bottles of milk, boiled beans and sunflower seeds on the platform, before calling out the names of the orangutans.  In a few minutes, soft rustlings in trees could be heard and we waited in anticipation and a quickening of our heartbeats.

We were delighted when a female orangutan cradling a baby on its side came into sight.  Due of their size, the orangutans do not swing from tree to tree but move with a steady but slow and graceful pace.  The female orangutan ignored us and went straight to the feeding platform and began to peel a banana to eat.  Not long after, a few more orangutans arrived and soon the food was slowly, but surely, consumed.  The Rangers at the Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre informed us that the fully rehabilitated orangutans would not return to the feeding platform until there was scarcity of fruits in the forest.  There were also several orangutans, especially kept as pets from young, that would not go back to the forest as they had become too used to human interactions.

the younger orangutans would linger around the area after their meals, playing with each other.  Sometimes, one or two more mischievous or curious orangutans would climb down to the ground and teasingly charge at visitors but their antics were usually harmless.  However, it is advisable not to go too close to, play with or touch the orangutans as they are semi-wild and have powerful arms, and if they should grab your camera or bag, you can basically say goodbye to your belongings.  Once they were full and finished with their playing, which lasted around an hour or so, the orangutans would head back into the forest.

The Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre also housed other species of endangered wildlife from hornbills to sun bears and gibbons besides orang utans.  Facilities at the Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre included a Visitor Information Centre, bird-breeding enclosure, small mammals breeding site, a large orangutan enclosure, two large bird enclosures, ten large mammal enclosures, and quarantine areas, which were closed to the public.   For us, it had been an interesting and eye-opening trip to the Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.  We learnt about the wildlife in the Centre, particularly the orangutans and were very happy to be able to see and watch the orangutans live in action.  Check it out for yourselves!

Tags: orangutan | orang utans | orang utan Sarawak | orang utan Kuching | wildlife Kuching | Kuching forest | Semenggoh |

Double the Pleasure at Annah Rais Hot Springs

 

One incredible way to enjoy the contradicting twin elements of nature would be a visit to the new upgraded Annah Rais Hot Springs in Kuching, Sarawak. At this little spot in Sarawak, Borneo, I experienced the wonderful sensation of soaking myself in the hot spring pools with the coolness of clear rushing river water right next to these rock pools and set amidst beautiful natural flora and fauna. It was close to paradise on earth!

My friends and I had heard about the upgrading works that had been completed for the hot spring in early 2011 and decided to check the hot spot out. The Annah Rais Hot Spring was located about 70 kilometres from Kuching City, and the countryside drive took nearly two hours where we bypassed the quaint Annah Rais Longhouse, a small native Bidayuh village. Found by early Bidayuh settlers 250 years ago, the hot springs had been guarded and preserved by the villagers since then. It was their belief that the hot spring was a sacred place for them to seek blessings and cures for various illnesses.

Set along a narrow hilly road, the Annah Rais Hot Spring was another ten minutes drive from the Annah Rais Longhouse. Entrance fees to the hot springs were RM5 per adult; and RM3 per child aged 7 and below. The new upgraded facilities of the hot spring included a concrete walkway, steps to the river, and changing rooms and showers, which were important as these would make the hot spring area more comfortable and enjoyable for visitors, like me.

The other significant improvement was the nice circular rock or granite pools, one big and one smaller, which were built to contain the hot water and to provide proper sitting areas for the enjoyment of the hot springs and its lovely surrounding landscape of bamboo trees and tropical rainforest. We changed into our swimming attire and headed to the bigger rock pool. We had to be careful while navigating our way along the rock pool due to the slippery moss-strewn surface.

Dipping our feet into the water made us realize why it was called a hot spring. The water was hot! Even the sands and stones felt hot. It took a while for me to adjust and get used to the steaming hot water. Temperatures could get as high as 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This natural phenomenon was caused by underground water being heated by geothermal forces and then brought up to the surface to create hot springs. At times, we could also see hot water bubbling up from the bottom of the pool. And when the wind blows, we could smell the sulfur in the air.

Since we went on a weekday afternoon, there were not many people at the Annah Rais Hot Springs and most of them were local visitors, sitting around the rock pools and dangling their legs into the hot springs. The chirping of birds combined with the rippling sounds of the river, enveloped by a lush green forest canopy, created a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere as we infused ourselves with the heat of the hot springs. Watching the drifting white clouds in the crystal blue sky was calming and in that moment, the hectic city life ceased to exist.

As I had mentioned earlier, there were twin elements to the hot springs… the cool flowing river besides the steaming rock pools were an exciting and stimulating contrast. I have heard that alternating hot with cold temperatures could assist to dilate and constrict blood vessels, thereby improving blood circulation. Additionally, a good soak in hot or warm water would go a long way to help relax tense muscles, soothe the body and in turn reduce stress. Doctors had acknowledged that immersing in hot water could speed up the healing process or relieve pain caused by arthritis or minor injuries. It was believed to be therapeutic for insomnia and psoriasis too.

After about an hour of relaxation and fun at the rock pool and river, we decided to call it a day and headed to shower and change. It had been a great trip for us. Annah Rais Hot Springs was still relatively unknown as a tourism destination but this yet to be discovered gem has something simple to offer that to me was most desirable… a place to restore the tired body and rejuvenate the weary mind. So, take a trip to the Annah Rais Hot Springs and pamper yourself to the hilt.

Tags: annah rais | annah rais longhouse | annah rais homestay | hot springs Sarawak | hot springs Kuching | Kuching homestay |

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 |

MONDAY, FEBRUARY06, 2012

Sarawak Laksa, Most Popular Food in Kuching City

If you love hot and spicy food, then on your next trip to Sarawak, especially to the capital city of Kuching, you must not miss the famous Sarawak Laksa. what food is it actually?

 

Well, it is actually rice vermicelli mixed with prawn or shrimp paste, topped with fried eggs that are cut into thin slices, blanched bean sprouts, steamed soft chicken slices and juicy tender prawns. Once all the ingredients are mixed together with thick Laksa gravy poured over it and ready to be served, you may want to squeeze a little lime over it and garnished with coriander leaves. You may also want to add in some “belachan” (spicy shrimp paste) before you consume it.

Belachan is a popular ingredient in South East Asia. It is commonly used in South East Asia and Southern Chinese cuisines as a shrimp paste or shrimp sauce. In Indonesia, belachan is known as terasi, ngapi in Burma, kapi in Thailand and mam tom in Vietnam.

A bowl of Sarawak laksa depending on whether it is a large bowl or a small bowl costs around rm4 to rm6 . (rm3.6=usd1). This Laksa is so delicious that after eating it, it may even send you licking the bowl too. You may even order a second bowl thereafter. This dish will definitely warms up your stomach for the whole day.

When you are in Kuching, you can easily find Laksa being sold in many coffee shops. However, the well known coffee shops that sent people waiting and queuing up for hours are the coffee shops at Tabuan Laru, another stall at Bormill third mile and in the city centre located beside Grand Continental hotel. My favourite Sarawak Laksa stall is at Foody Goody coffee shop at Tabuan Laru vicinity. I would patiently wait for at least half an hour on Sundays as there were just too many customers waiting for their bowl of Laksa.

The Sarawak Laksa is available only on mornings as they would be sold out by lunch time. The best and most delicious Sarawak Laksa in the whole region of Sarawak is still in Kuching city.

You should go check it out if you are in Kuching for work, business or leisure.

Tags: laksa Sarawak | laksa recipe | curry laksa | laksa soup | laksa Kuching | laksa Sarawak recipe | Sarawak food |