Art & Places: Sarawakians, Sarawak

Sarawakians

Named Sarawakians, the sculpture portrays unity in Sarawak. It has a body and many heads. A body depicting Sarawak and many heads depicting the many diversity of Sarawak people and cultures.

This granite sculpture was sculpted by Robert Yong, an architect, in May 2003 and is located at the main entrance of Sarawak Cultural Village, Santubong, Sarawak.

I wanted to contact Mr Robert Yong to ask about the creative process but could not find his contact details. If you know him, please do let me know.

 

Continue Reading

Absolute Tribal in Kuching

This restaurant really had me at ‘Hello’.

Absolute TribalAbsolute Tribal entrance.

I thought to myself, “the interior must be as beautiful as the entrance.” My expectation was true. I fell in love straight away.

Absolute Tribal interiorInterior of the restaurant.

Absolute Tribal is a restaurant with a contemporary fine-dining ambiance serving Asian fusion food; mostly local authentic cuisine with a delightful presence of Thai’s unique selection.

Set in a historic building built during the Brooke Era about 120 years ago, Absolute Tribal is part of Sarakraf Pavilion. The historical attachment of the establishment will make you feel as if you have travel back in time and take a refuge to a spiritually enchanting holiday.

Here are some of the food that we had during the lunch. The lunch was on Sarawak Tourism Board and Malindo Air. This was part of the Familiarisation Media Trip last April.

at3Left row from top: Sarawak Tribal Salad, Pansoh Chicken, Umai Sarawak. Right row from top: Sarawak Pineapple Fried Rice, Terong Dayak with Fish Curry and Mee Kolok Fusion Style.

Yes, I love everything that I ate. The food live up to the beautiful ambience. I definitely recommend this restaurant to you. You will love it too.

Other than fine dining, Sarakfraf Pavilion features gift shops with local arts and crafts that could not be seen elsewhere.

craftIf you are visiting Kuching, Sarawak, do look for Absolute Tribal. The restaurant sign is not really visible from the main road, so be on the look out for Sarakraf Pavilion sign near a white brick gate. It opens from Monday to Sunday from 07:30 – 22:00. Address: 78 Jalan Tabuan, 93100, Kuching 93200, Malaysia.

Sarakraf

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

7 things to do in Kuching, Sarawak

Flying on an inaugural flight with Malindo Air was great experience. Love all the features inside the aircrafts. And it was more great to be able to revisit Kuching after the first one in 2005.

For your information, Malindo Air flies to Kuching 4 times daily.

7500th Boeing 7377500th Boeing 737 (9M-LNF).

So, what’s interesting in Kuching? Plenty, actually. Malindo with collaboration of Sarawak Tourism Board had arranged tours around Sarawak for media who was on the inaugural flight.

Here are some ideas for you to start with if you plan to visit Kuching. This list is crafted based on places I visited only.

1Stay at Riverside Majestic Hotel. Riverside Majestic Hotel is strategically located in the heart of Kuching overlooking the Sarawak River. The hotel commands a panoramic view of the city and the Kuching Waterfront across.

The hotel has 241 comfortable rooms and offers chef’s selection of signature dishes and tonic soups. Their kitchens are all certified Halal. For relaxation, you can go to the Borneo Odyssey Spa located on the Lower Ground floor of their sister property the Grand Margherita Hotel, or cool off in the hotel’s swimming pool. A bowling centre and cineplex is also available in the adjacent Riverside Shopping Complex.

Riverside Majestic HotelFront view of Riverside Majestic Hotel.

2

Eat, eat and eat. For dinner, everybody is going to Top Spot Food Court. It is basically a hawker centre that sells mostly seafood. It is located on a roof top of a 5 storey car park right in the smack of the city centre. For exotic lunch, you can go to Absolute Tribal Restaurant located at Sarakraf Pavilion. For local kampung style food, you can go to Mount Serapi Corner.

absolute tribalInteresting entrance of AbsoluteTribal Restaurant.

3Go shopping! There are many places you can shop but if you want to look for food, fruits, seafood, go to Medan Niaga Satok. For gift items like pua kumbu, jeweleries and what not go to Main Bazaar. Another place you can go to to buy Kek Lapis is Dayang Salhah Kek Lapis. Another interesting place to buy crafts is Sarakraf Pavilion.

4Visit cat statues around Kuching. The most recognizable cat statue is the one near Kuching Waterfront, just opposite the Riverside Majestic Hotel. You can also find another one in front of the Little China Town along Jalan Padungan. There’s another one at Jalan Abell. More if you walk around town.

cat statuesClockwise: A cat family near Riverside Majestic Hotel, Lonely cat in front of Little China Town and four cats at Jalan Abell.

5

See orang-utans at Semenggoh Wildlife Center.  Established in 1975, this center cares for wild animals which have either been found injured in the forest, orphaned, or were previously kept as illegal pets. The center also offers a rare opportunity to view orang-utans in their natural habitat. Although these recently released orang utan spend most of their time in the surrounding forest, they do return to the centre where they are fed twice daily at a “halfway house” feeding station. Over time the orang utan appear less frequently as they start to adjust to life in the forest. During the fruit season they may not appear at all, which is a good sign and shows that they are adapting well to their new surroundings.

orangutanOrang-utan right right above me!

6Experience Sarawak heritage at Sarawak Cultural Village. Situated at the foothills of legendary Mount Santubong, this village, dubbed as Sarawak Living Museum, showcases fascinating   Sarawak’s ethnic diversity at a glance. You will have the chance to the heritage of the major racial groups in Sarawak namely their traditional houses, crafts, musics and clothings. Sarawak Cultural Village  is also the venue for the World Harvest Festival and the Rainforest World Music Festival, an internationally renowned festival.

Sarawak Cultural VillageOne of the traditional houses.

7Take the Sarawak River cruise. The best way to see Kuching is from the Sarawak River located in the heart of Kuching. The cruise gives you a view of the city and its surrounding areas. You will see the New Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Building, Astana Building, Kuching Waterfront, colourful villages, villagers doing their daily routines, cargo vessels and many more.

Sarawak river cruiseSarawak River Cruise boarding area at the waterfront.

There you go. I will elaborate more on some of the places above when time permits.

Continue Reading

Flying on the inaugural Boeing’s 7500th 737 with Malindo Air

I was super excited when Malindo Air dropped me an e-mail inviting me for their inaugural media flight from KL to Kuching. Double excited when my blog buddy and BFF, LadjJava was invited as well. This inaugural flight was unique as we were on board Boeing’s 7500th 737! The first 737 was was delivered to Lufthansa in 1967. This new 737 is fitted with the new Boeing Sky Interior that brings in the new modern designed interior similar to the Boeing 787 with LED lighting, larger pivoting overhead bins and a greater feeling of spaciousness.

7500th Boeing 737
7500th Boeing 737 (9M-LNF).

The flight was even more unique as there were only 50 invited guests and media (13 being bloggers) and the rest were paying passengers. It was great seeing all the people (some who had no idea) enjoying the experience.

For your information, Malindo Air is a joint venture airline between Lion Air of Indonesia and the National Aerospace and Defense Industries (NADI) of Malaysia and the airline name takes after the two countries in the partnership (Malaysia & Indonesia). Hence the name Malindo Air. Malindo Air currently flies to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

The flight was awesome. Seated in the Economy Class, I got to enjoy the in-flight entertainment. Something that I didn’t get on board Air Asia during my Hong Kong trip last month. One thing missing is the earphones, though.  I normally carry earphones but lately I have been travelling without one because the earphones’ jack on my laptop is not working. Perhaps earphones is something that will be provided for free soon.

personal TV
Personal TV for everyone. Yay!

USB-portThere’s also USB Port. (Soon, there will be Internet connection, something that we social media freaks are looking forward to! )

view

view2Views from my window seat.

Other than that, Economy Class passenger enjoys up to 15kg free hold luggage, light snacks (sandwich and mineral water) and plush leather seats with 32″ seat pitch. Comparison to other airlines: AirAsia’s 29″, AirAsia X 32″ and MAS 34″. (*Thanks to Sedunia Travel for the comparison info.)

As for Business Class, service comes with 45 inches legroom, delicious meals and 30kg free bag allowance, allowing passenger to travel in absolute comfort.

The flight to Kuching took about one and a half hour and when it was time to descent, I was about to sleep (haha!) but anyway the touch down was very smooth and guess what? We had a water cannon salute upon arrival!

water cannon
Some had no clue that it was water cannon and thought it was raining!

All the invited guests and media were escorted to Media Room, VIP Terminal, Kuching International Airport for a press conference and welcoming ceremony. We were welcomed by YBhg Dato’ Rashid Khan (Chief Executive Officer of Sarawak Tourism Board). Also present during the conference was Mr Chandran Rama Muthy (Chief Executive Officer of Malindo Air) and YB Datuk Amar Haji Abang Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Abang Haji Openg (Honorable Minister of Housing and Minister of Tourism Sarawak).

During the press conference, Chief Executive Officer Chandran Rama Muthy said that Malindo Air’s next destination is Miri and India in June. It also aims for direct flights from Borneo to China and Hong Kong by early 2014. On expansion plans, he said right now the idea is to make Malaysia a transit hub for tourists coming in with Lion Air and also from the Malindo Air network.

Malindo Air is expected to have 12 units of Boeing 737-900ER aircraft by year-end.

MalindoAir

I am happy to be part of the inaugural flight as it was much more than just a flight. As a budget traveller, paying low fares but still benefiting from in-flight services without hidden extra costs is something that I look for.

Thank you Malindo Air for being not just low cost!

Summary
Who? Malindo Air – Not Just Low Cost
What? Currently fly to Kuching (4X daily)  and Kota Kinabalu (3X daily)
How much? RM78 to Kuching and RM108 (Promo price until 15 May 2013. Online booking)

Promo price
Photo: Malindo Air.

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Tenyok Rimba Community Resort, Long Bedian

Tenyok Rimba Community Resort, Long Bedian in Apoh, Miri, Sarawak boasts many wonderful waterfalls and several that are quite spectacular.


With media team; from left – Alice, Samsul, yours truly, Roland (tour guide), Cath, Nancy and Faiz.

There are 7 waterfalls in the vicinity of Tenyok Community Forest namely Nyang Fall, Dancing Fall, Sang Fall, Hornbill Fall, Ba-O Fall, Ipul Fall and Nawan Fall. I get to see 2 of them Nyang Waterfal and Nawan Fall.


Nyang Fall.

From Nyang Fall, it’s about 15 minutes drive half way up the White Cliff to Nawan Fall and a 20-minute hike through the forest. Nawan is beautiful!


Nawan Fall.

The powerful and dramatic rush of  the fall produces great deal of mist before the wind blew the mist away enough that I could see them. See my video to see the blown away mist.

The Tenyok Rimba Community Resort is great for those who love nature. Located about 10km from Long Bedian village, the resort offers an amazing view to visitors. It is one of nature’s heritage located in the natural forest on the upper reaches of Sungai Tenyok in the District of Baram. With an area of about 2,400 hectares, the resort is rich in the flora and fauna species.


Shorea macrophylla.  A dipterocarp species which is locally known as Engkabang. 


Ara (Ficus sp) has a potassium content.


Tarap fruit, closely related to jackfruit.

History has it that the area around Sungai Tenyok used to be a logging area in mid 1980s as it was rich with a variety of high quality timber. However, the intense logging activity had resulted in an imbalance in the local ecology, geology and hydrology. In addition, the uncontrolled widespread tree felling had almost resulted in the extinction of various flora and fauna such as animals, birds and other forms of wildlife. In fact, the quality of river was also badly affected. The residents of Long Bedian took steps to preserve the beauty of its flora and fauna and converted the area into a resort. The Tenyok Rimba Community Resort has several chalets and a cafe. The chalets are owned by individuals (they use their own money to build the chalets) and managed by the JKKK Long Bedian.

Here are pictures of the resort:

 To get here, contact the KJBMB Long Bedian:
Jok Eng Jok 013-8305962
Ding Laing Jok 012-8556118
Ulau Wan 019-4838311

 

 

Continue Reading

Long Bedian, Miri, Sarawak

It is the friendliness of the Kayans that made my visit to Long Bedian so memorable. Language is not a barrier when you have someone there to translate Malay to Kayan, Kayan to Malay. I owed it all to Cath Tipong from Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) for her willingness to do just that.

Although some of the Kayan kids were quite shy and reluctant to respond to my conversation, one thing they’re always good at is smiling. They would run and hide behind anything they could find near them. And then I would hear them giggle. The giggles were enough for me to understand them. The elder kids were quite friendly as they would greet me “Selamat pagi” with a smile.

And of course, the members JKKK Long Bedian, the working committee for the Sarawak Highland Folks Music Festival, were the most friendliest of them all! 🙂


Hiding at the corner of their house.


Gotcha! Nowhere to run, they smiled and giggled. Too cute.

I had the honour to meet a Kayan puindo (grandma) at her house, Puyang Emang, 80 years old. She has been living in the longhouse, house number 66, for 20 years.

Puyang has tattoos on both her hands since she was 12. For Kayan women, tattoos is considered a form of feminine beauty.

The Long Bedian village, home to about 200 houses ( a mix of longhouses and individual houses) and approximately 2,000 people, is situated in the Apoh Tutoh region of the Baram district, Miri division. The majority here is Kayan with a mix of Kelabit, Kenyah, Morek, Penan and other smaller tribes.

According to history, the village was discovered in 1946. The people chose to settle down here because the land is fertile and rich with food source. The Long Bedian village was named after the Bedian River. The Bedian River is named after a durian tree found on the river bank. Bedian is durian in Kayan language.

Long Bedian river.

The Long Bedian community has improved throughout  the years. At the end of 1960, the community was introduced to farming, planting coffee, as well as to government policies, for example, attending formal education in national school is compulsory here. The Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Long Bedian created history when it was selected by he Ministry of Education, Malaysia beginning January 2012 to start the K-9 Comprehensive Special Model. The model enabled the school to provide education from Year 1 to Form 3. It was one of the Ministry’s strategies in solving problems as well as bridging educational gap among the various ethnics, cultural and socio-economic in the country.

The village is also equipped with a clinic, mini library, wireless internet connection, homestays (one of it is Tapun Homestay – where I stayed for 3 days), badminton court, basketball court and many more.


A very long longhouse 🙂


Library and Internet connection.

Long Bedian is also the main trading point for daily needs; from food to clothing to hardware to SIM cards! The trading area consists of three rows of shop lots. Built in 1995, the shop lots are rented out to locals to run their business. Tribal crafts can also be found here. I bought some for my keeps.


Full house!


Weaved bangles made by the Penans.

So how do you get here? Good question. In my case, I took Malaysia Airlines (MAS) from KL to Miri (2 and a half hours). Later, I took 4WD from Miri to Long Bedian for about 4 hours. It was a bumpy ride but nonetheless ’twas fun!

Alternatively, you can take a twin-otter plane operated by MAS from Miri to Marudi (20 minutes). From Marudi, you can take the express boat to Long Lama (3 hours) and later take the 4WD to Long Bedian (1 hour).

If you need to arrange for ground transportation; you can contact KJBMB Long Bedian also the operator of Tapun Homestay:
Jok Eng Jok 013-8305962
Ding Laing Jok 012-8556118
Ulau Wan 019-4838311

 

 

Continue Reading

Sarawak Highland Folks Music Festival 2012

Attending Sarawak Highland Folks Music Festival 2012 (SHFMF 2012) was a great experience. It enriches me with the knowledge about ethnic groups in Sarawak in terms of culture; emphasizing in the music instruments, not to mention the dance and costume. Really, I have never seen one up-close before. I am truly blessed to be given this chance.

Staged in Long Bedian village situated deep in the tropical rainforest, overlooking Tenyok Mountain, the Sarawak Highland Folks Music Festival 2012 presents some of the finest folk musics from Sarawak.  Sarawak Highland Folks Music Festival is the brainchild of YB Senator Lihan Jok (Ahli Dewan Negara, Malaysia) in 2003 when he was the previous ADUN N.67 Telang Usan. In a separate interview at his home, he told that in terms of geography, the Sarawak’s ethnic groups live in the highlands and the way they live there contributed on how they express sadness and enjoyment through their music. This is the way of life that he intended to help revive. While this effort helps the younger generations to appreciate and learn more about folks music, the elders can also take the chance to brush up on their long-forgotten musical skills.

The objective of the festival is to be a platform to conserve folks music and further promote it on international level.

The two-day Sarawak Highland Folks Music Festival was launched on November 9, 2012 in Long Bedian, Miri, Sarawak by YB Dennis Ngau, ADUN N.67 Telang Usan. Speaking during the launch, YB Dennis told that the folks music festival is one very important event as it creates an environment that encourages and nourishes the creative spirit of folk musicians and music lovers whilst attempting to revive traditional forms of musical expression, including dance.


YB Dennis Ngau, ADUN N.67 Telang Usan.

Also there to witness the launch was YB Senator Lihan Jok (Ahli Dewan Negara), YBhg Encik Antonio Khati Galis (Residen Bahagian Miri), Mr Humphrey Robert Linggie (representative from Tourism Ministry, Sarawak), Encik Faizal ( representative from Prime Minister’s Department) and Paramount Chiefs from respective ethnic communities.

The festival showcases performances from 8 ethnic groups namely Sape symbolic opening performance by Kumpulan Akademi Sape SMK Long Lama, Long Dance (Datun Julut) by Kenyah community, Iban Gendang (Betabuh), Dak Selingut – Nose flute by Juk Wan, Gendang performance by Persatuan Bisaya Sarawak from Limbang, Tarian Bungan Ejing by Persatuan Berawan Sarawak, Belanggi-Sijinnye-Genang Manah-Ngugor by Dayak Bidayuh National Association Miri , Pagan Tawak & Nyiuan Kayau by Kayan community, Kelabit Dance by Kelabit communit and last but not least Sape music and Tangbut Buluh by the Kayan community. In-between ethnic performances, dances by Sanggar Budaya Miri enliven the festival.

Here is a video of performances during the first day. Am still editing the 2nd one, will upload once done.

During his closing speech on the second day, YB Senator Lihan Jok told that the festival will be organised every two years and with the road system in progress, it is hoped that in years to come, there will be more participations from more ethnic groups.


YB Senator Lihan Jok (Ahli Dewan Negara, Malaysia).

Here are more photos from the event:


Symbolic opening performance by Kumpulan Akademi Sape SMK Long Lama.


Long Dance (Datun Julut) by Kenyah community.


Dak Selingut – Nose flute by Juk Wan


Gendang performance by Persatuan Bisaya Sarawak from Limbang


Orang Ulu.


Iban.


One for the album!

 

Continue Reading

Loagan Bunut National Park, Miri, Sarawak

It was a long, dusty and bumpy journey to Loagan Bunut but the 130km travelled on a 4WD in 3 hours’ time was worth it. Mother Nature never fails to amaze people who really look forward to enjoy its beauty. I was one of the people along with Nancy, Cath, Roland Gan, a licensed tour guide and Frankie, a Kayan 4WD driver who drove hundred miles from Long Bedian to pick us up at Miri town.

The trip to Loagan Bunut National Park was the excursion trip before heading to Long Bedian in the vicinity of Apoh, Miri for Sarawak Highland Folks Music Festival 2012.

Loagan Bunut National Park is a peat swamp forest with a lake that covers an area of approximately 650 hectares. Total areas of the park gazetted in 1991 are 10,736 hectares.


Loagan Bunut National Park

Loagan Bunut is home to about 87 species of trees, 4 species of pitcher plant, 80 species of herbs, 131 species of fungi taxon, 21 species of fish, 231 species of insect, 26 species of reptile, 92 species of bird, 23 species of amphibian and few species of mammalian like Sambar deer, Grey-leaf monkey and flat-headed cat. It is also home to an ethnic group that has been around for 5 generations called Berawan. Berawan has the privilege to collect fish, forest products and hunting under the Native Customary Rights.


The lake.

Loagan Bunut is an extra-ordinary lake where water level fluctuates throughout the year, mostly from February to May or June, in response to the fluctuation of water level in Sungai Teru, which is connected to the lake via narrow channel of Sugai Bunut. The water level will go as low as 0.5m up to 3-4m. When it rains, the lake will be filled up again up to the highest water level of 40m. And this is a good time for the Berawan people to scoop up migrating fish using a unique method called Selambau. Selambau is actually a net mounted to a large raft which can be adjusted according to water flow. Main species of fish found here include Bawan, Baung, Betutu and Kaloi. Fish will be kept in a bamboo cage before being transported to fresh market in Lapok or as far as Miri.


Selambau.

The boat ride around the lake took us about an hour, skipping some parts of the lake but nonetheless we had the privilege to get to know a local Berawan, Pak Jalin Luta. Pak Jalin, 66 years old, a fisherman, is also operating boat cruise to support his family. Pak Jalin took us to a Berawan burial site for Berawan community with the national park near Bukit Tengah. There are two other sites situated near Sungai Bunut and Sungai Bunan. The burial site in Bukit Tengah is still being used for the burial of high caste Berawans, whereas the commoners are buried at burial site near Sungai Bunut. These sacred totem poles called Lejeng have been in existence for 5 generations, approximately more than 200 years. Lejeng comes in pair and are carved on Belian tree poles that were erected to support the coffin placed above them.


Berawan burial site.

We later went to other parts of the lakes where there were chalets. The chalets were not in operation as the main problem here is water. Pipe water is not supplied here and the locals use the lake water for washing and bathing and they will save rain water for cooking. Some visitors did not like the idea of using pumped lake water and rain water and this problem saw the declining number of visitors. However, there is a Forest Hotel near the office that is still taking visitors but please bear in mind that they use pumped water from the lake which is filtered later using traditional method.

If you don’t mind the water condition, they are happy to let you stay. Bring lots of bottled water for your use. Also bring your own food. If you like to have a fish barbeque, let the local Berawans know, they will help you catch fish. Remember that fishing is not allowed for public, only Berawans are allowed to do that.

If using lake water is a problem to you, you can treat it as a day trip. Go early in the morning and come back in the evening. The fee of transportation (4WD for 4 people) is around RM250 per one way. This is not including the fee to the national park which is RM10 for local, RM20 for foreigner. But my suggestion is, since you are already in Miri vicinity; take the chance to proceed to Long Bedian (another 2 hours’ drive) for the night stay. Long Bedian has about 12 homestays, water facilities, shops and restaurants. There is a Muslim food there. Not to mention 8 waterfalls in the area! I’ll cover Long Bedian in another post (will link the URL here later). And after Long Bedian you can even proceed to Gunung Mulu National Park. From Mulu you can take a flight back to Miri. Sounds good? You can contact Roland Gau from Mulu Trekking to customise your adventure trip: 017-8500206/roland@mulutrekking.com.

Anyway, other than boat ride at Loagan Bunut National Park, you can also go for trekking. There are 2 trails available here; the 2km Hydrology Trail and 260m Tapang Trail. It is essential to take a local guide. Please enquire about this from the park’s office: 085-775119. For the boat ride, please call Pak Jalin at 014-8968002. Pak Jalin has only one boat to operate and you might have to wait an hour or so, if he is taking other visitors so it will be great if he can plan ahead if you call first. Fee is RM60 for 4 pax.

I might sounds like a travel agency but really, I am not. I want you to go and experience the adventure. Sarawak has a lot to offer in terms of nature, culture and adventure.

Credits to Sarawak Tourism Board for taking me on this trip and frankly, I did not know the existence of Loagan Bunut National Park until they brought me along.

Beauty is in the eye of beholder, if you are a nature lover or nature photographer or simply love to study nature; you will find beauty here in Loagan Bunut National Park. Here are more pictures of the park from a nature lover to another.

Enjoy!

Emila,
Marudi, Sarawak.
(I’ve written this article in my room at Tapun Homestay, Long Bedian, Apoh, Miri)

Continue Reading