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WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 23, 2017

A One Day Tour at Kuching

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

Signage at Sarawak Cultural Village

 

The bamboo bridge route to get to the Bidayuh Longhouse

 

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

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

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

 

The view at Sarawak Cultural Village

 

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

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

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

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

 

The view in front of a Melanau Tall House

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

TUESDAY, JUNE 5, 2012

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

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

 

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

FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2012

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

 

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

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 |

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 | |