Monday, July 10, 2017

Rainforest World Music Festival 2016, Sarawak Cultural Village, Kuching

My second visit to Kuching is truly an unforgettable experience because I travel with a group of friends - Alienbots + it was a long trip because we went to Rainforest World Music Festival 2016 for full 3 days! 

Welcome to Sarawak Cultural Village

This trip totally left a good impression about Kuching in me. We bought air tix around March, as well as 3 days pass to the Rainforest World Music Festival. Rent an Airbnb nearby Kuching city, rent a car online and voila! Everything is set to go around this amazing city.

Sarawak Cultural Village is located at the foot of Mount Santubong, which about 35KM from Kuching city. It took us around 45mins to 1 hour drive to the location. Sadly public weren't allowed to park at the parking area opposite of the premise and since we're on a budget trip, we parked nearby the golf club area and walked for 2KM to Sarawak Cultural Village. 

The organizer provide shuttle van service but per trip is like RM7, so we thought nah we're just gonna walk over while enjoying the scenery. First day was a breeze, we walk and talk, take pictures and videos etc, but second and third day walk really breaking our legs. The guys were having so much fun because it was the release day of PokémonGo, they are happily walking around catching Pokémons and conquering Gyms lol. 

So if you're planning to go full 3 days event, do consider paying for the shuttle van service. lol.

Sarawak, Land of Hornbills

RWMF2016, here we come!

This is my first visit to Sarawak Cultural Village and there are so much to see so much to explore so much to learn. It's sad that as Malaysian, we rarely learn about cultures and traditions of Sarawakian, a visit to this "living museum" that combines history, tradition, lifestyle and architecture really open up my eyes. 

There are 7 unique traditional houses to visit:
  • Bidayuh Longhouse
  • Iban Longhouse
  • Orang Ulu Longhouse
  • Chinese farmhouse
  • Malanau Tall House
  • Malay House
  • Penan Hut

The famous Orang Ulu Longhouse

Kayo' Aya'
The Tree of Life mural painted at wall of Orang Ulu House

While I only knew a bit about main tribes like Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu as Dayak people, there are actually a lot of minor tribes exist around Sarawak that I didn't know about. With the activities such as workshops, food and village mart, craft bazaar going on around the venue, I get to experience and understand more about Dayak people's culture.

Crossing this Bidayuh bamboo bridge to get to Bidayuh House

understanding the lifestyle of Bidayuh tribe

Everything is so interesting and beautiful

On the first day, we reached Sarawak Cultural Village around 3pm and manage to catch Alena Murang sharing session, Sarawak's very own young visual artist and musician who also the first woman openly perform and teach playing the sape. She has performed sape in more than 20 cities worldwide including New York and London, and sings traditional old songs she learn from old Kelabit ladies from the long house. Her performance struck my heart and now she's included in my Spotify playlist. 

Alena Murang with sape and Kayo' Aya' 

After the sharing session, while waiting for the Drum Circle that's happening in front of main stage, we went to the performance area early to find a good spot and call it ours with the tarpaulin we bought at this deserted shop lots while we're on the way to Sarawak Cultural Village. lol. This tarpaulin is definitely a good purchase!

Owning this piece of land like a boss hahaha

There's Drum Circle is a musical experience for everyone who's there to take part, reconnect the inner rhythm and have fun playing whatever instruments they provide. It's like a rap or dance battle but instead of rapping or dancing, you use the percussion instruments to create rhythm and challenge those who are sitting at other sides.

After Drum Circle, with no programmes available to take part, we went to the food bazaar to grab some quick bites as well as lying on the tarpaulin watching sunset, telling each other jokes and take tons of silly photos lol. 

This trip, we have Ronald who is in charge of the GoPro videos and Fei who has this big ass DSLR in charge of the photos. (haha in-charge probably isn't the suitable description, they are more like the owner of device and each other take turn in filming and shooting lololol)

This version "like holding the fan half cover the face"

Pretty sunset

And here starts the Day 1of Rainforest World Music Festival 2016:

Starts with Miring Ceremony
A colourful and uproar ceremony performed to please Gods and spirits and to receive blessings from them

After witness such intense ceremony, tunes of Sape strung together, Sape Sarawak was the opening act for Day 1 performances, and here are the rest who perform on that day as well:
  • Naygayiw Gigi Dance Troupe (Australia)
  • Unique Arts Academy (Malaysia)
  • Dol Arastra Bengkulu (Indonesia)
  • Krar Collective (Ethiopia)
  • AULI (Latvia) - one of my favourite performers throughout the festival

From top to bottom: AULI, Naygayiw Gigi Dance Troupe and Téada

I danced so much at the front stage area it was exhausting to walk back where we parked our car. Some performances were stunning and unique when it unfolds in front of my eyes, I keep checking the showtimes to refer the performers information, wanting to understand more about their music and the culture and tradition hidden behind them.

There are so many foreigners who come from abroad just to take part in this amazing festival, not so much Malaysians spotted tho although it is held within Malaysia. To hear and see these people perform on stage, live, just right in front of me is soul touching I can't remember how many times I have goosebumps throughout those 3 days!

So here comes Day 2:

One of my favourite picture throughout this trip

Who is this pretty native girl with huge bird feather on her head?

Guys got sunburnt due to our Bako National Park hiking lololol
Will blog about that fun adventure next time

In my matching nail colour, fan and kimono jacket

Janice gotta be one of the cutest girl I've known

Really eat full too free nothing to do, she bought this nail polish in mall earlier when she went to toilet lol

Alienbots Girls Club!

Don't worry about food if you were to take part in this festival as there are food and village mart available all day long for you to quench your thirst and fill your tummy. Although some of the pre-packed food are not as tasty, but that's the best you can get. I personally recommend waffles, fruit juice and Starbucks! Them waffles are quite tasty we went for few rounds. lol. Probably the yummiest HOT food you can get.

Nothing can go wrong Starbucks Chocolate Chip Frappe!

The most amazing part of Day 2 gotta be the rain that put the performance on a break because it was freakin heavy ones! Me and Jean are stranded at the waffle kiosk for about an hour because we don't have any raincoats or umbrella. When the rain got smaller, we quickly run back to where our base is and saw this:

Hahahahaha pattern liao liao!
Thank you Bryan for taking care of our belongings by wrapping himself up like a garbage bag lololol

Literally dancing in the rain!

This whole raining incident literally put the meaning into "rainforest" for this music festival. Our spirit weren't drenched by the rain, in fact we all got so hype up that some started dancing in the mud and we put on our raincoats and dance along. The crowd just went crazy and it was awesome!

Day 2 act timeline were these:

  • Matthew Ngau & Alena Murang (Sarawak)
  • Stelios Petrakis Cretan Quartet (Greece)
  • Naygayiw Gigi Dance Troupe (Australia)
  • Band Girls of Sabah Cultural Board (Sabah)
  • Vocal Sampling (Cuba)
  • Shanren (China)
  • Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band (Ghana)

Although Day 2 performance weren't as exciting as Day 1, the rain really did wash away our tiredness and got us all rejuvenate and prepared for Day 3, the last day of Rainforest World Music Festival 2016.

And gosh, even the God prepared a special gift for closing day of this music festival because...

We witnessed the most beautiful sunset in Sarawak!
Look at the stunning colours.

Then we watched some eye-opening performance too like this:

Broukar from Syria

Chouk Bwa Libete from Haiti

Day 3 showtimes were:
  • Broukar (Syria)
  • Teada (Ireland)
  • Chouk Bwa Libete (Haiti)
  • Gendang Melayu Sri Buana (Sarawak)
  • Auli (Latvia)
  • RWMF Final Bow (The World)

Last day performances were spectacled! We sing and dance along, laughing and clapping, everything was perfect. A perfect performance for final day act.

So good!

Final bow from all the performers around the world that came to Sarawak deliver their best performance.

Then it dawned on me that some countries are facing difficulties like war, hunger, nature catastrophe and yet people continue chasing their dreams, trying to make music that sing to the world and connect people all around the globe, isn't something so beautiful and people who are lucky like us Malaysians need to wake up and chase our dreams too? This is truly a wake up call for people who always procrastinate and slacking in life like me. 

If music were about connecting people, it connected us.
Thank you for the wonderful memories guys!

I think Rainforest World Music Festival is a music festival that we Malaysians must support at least once in our lifetime. We get to witness the beauty of culture, tradition, history of Dayak people that we know nothing about, we get to watch performances from all around the world that we probably weren't gonna step foot on their land in the future, we get to witness the connection of spirituality and happiness when we all sing and dance together.

Most of all, I'm more connected to who I am and people around me than I was before the music festival. This precious memory isn't something that you can gain from a 3 days 2 nights island trip. At this festival, music is our religion, and music changed the world because it changed people.

Last but not least, do enjoy watching this short video I've edited for my Rainforest World Music Festival 2016 experience with Alienbots:

For more information:

Rainforest World Music Festival Official Website

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