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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

International Dragon Boat regatta part of Sarawak Regatta 2014

The Sarawak Regatta is back ; 4th - 7th September 2014. The route will stretch from the start point  west of the Sarawak river to the finishing point, up river at the Kuching Waterfront, 2,000 meters away.

Intense - at certain stretches of the route when the boats are closest to the river bank, one can feel the emotive efforts of the participants. A highly charged atmosphere. 
Making its début is, the 1st International Dragon Boat Regatta 2014. This internationally rated event will take place on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Fifteen teams from eleven countries will battle it out in four categories for prize money. This inaugural challenge is an affiliate event of the International Dragon Boat Federation.

Not forgetting the raison d'etre for the Sarawak regatta are the longboat races with the 30-paddlers category vying for the coveted 'Raja Sungai' (King of the River) title. Longboats locally known as 'perahu' carries from seven to thirty paddlers according to the category contested in.

Depending on category, each boat can sit 7 to 30 paddlers

This iconic water sports event of Sarawak draws tens of thousands of people to the north and south bank of the Sarawak river every year to witness a regatta organised to harmonise feuding tribes in the old days. It first started in 1872. The legacy lives on till today to bond community; a global one at that, through the spirit of competition. 
Mingle with the locals in the north bank of the Sarawak river. Its a lively affair! Drums, colours, cheers and fireworks!

There are plenty of view points along the Kuching Waterfront; either side of the river bank. While the south side has a city atmosphere, the north side of the river bank comes with a 'kampung' (village) feel. Crossing the river takes only a few minutes in one of the many traditional 'penambang' shuttles that ply their trade at all time of the year.

History in the modern era viewed from Kampung Panglima Seman Lama. There is a homestay in this village.

As with event of such flavour, side events such as stage show, food fair and exhibitions will held.

Kuching is easily accessible from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur via scheduled airlines and low cost carriers. They are Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia, Malindo Air and Silk Air (Singapore - Kuching only)

Sarawak... where adventure lives

Monday, 9 June 2014

New for Rainforest World Music Festival 2014

Three new elements have been added to inject freshness into the festival. The Malay House will be used for the first time, giving the workshop there an intimate feel. It is limited, however, to fifty persons for health and safety reasons. In the comfort of the Theatre, two daily chamber-styled concerts will be presented instead. To keep the festival mood going by another hour, there will be the RWMF COMMUNITY DRUM CIRCLE conducted by 1DRUM.ORG. Beat your socks off from 5.00 – 6.00 pm daily in front of the Jungle stage. (see pic)

The other two workshop venues remain at Dewan Lagenda and Iban Longhouse respectively.

Lighting check at the Jungle Stage of the Rainforest World Music Festival

And of course, there will be another exciting lineup of performers for 2014. Here are the twenty two of them.

English folk song is usually about loneliness, death and misery.

However, this young group of six young, brash and innovative musicians have taken the traditional songs of England and layered it with tongue-in-cheek rock-based energy and dance grooves. The lyrics are, in true British tradition, dead-pan witty and shameless.

They were voted best live band in the UK at the 2011 FATEA Awards and will be Friday night’s closing act at the festival.

Tarantella music from Southern Italy is compelling, irresistible and passionate.

This band brings the frenzy of pizzica tarantata with their heart vibrating tamburello or frame drums, beautiful songs like only the Italians can do, and a beautiful fiery dancer.

They were voted best Italian World Music band at Babel Med Music 2011, GlobalFEST 2012, Womex 2012, SXSW 2013 and WOMAD 2013.

DAKHA BRAKHA   (Ukraine)
This stunningly visual quartet of brings the soundscape of mysterious Ukrainian folk melodies, witchy voices, compelling percussion and a mix of old and new sounds. Their laments are dark and trance like, and then they explode with hypnotic rhythms.

Their music has been described as ethno-chaos – wild and primitive.

They are the winners of the prestigious Kuriokhin Grand Prix prize in the sphere of contemporary art in 2010.

DEBADEMBA   (Mali / Burkina Faso)
An amazing golden-voiced singer from Mali and a virtuostic blues guitarist from Burkina Faso – this partnership between Mohamed Diaby and Abdoulaye Traore became Debademba – a knock out, spine-tingling band.

This is urbanized African music but saturated with the dust and secrets of the deserts of Africa and the dances of its people.

Debademba is down as the last act for Saturday night.

Traditional Chinese music with all its refined elegance, spiritual context and skilled musicianship.

This ensemble plays a wide range of repertoire taken from different regions of China, layered with the mixed cultural heritage of Singapore and coloured with contemporary touches.

They were the winners of the 2008 Singapore National Arts Council Chinese Music Competition, the 2009 Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, Wales and the Silver Award winner in the 28th Shanghai Spring International Music Festival.

GEMA SLDN-SCV   (Sarawak, Malaysia)
A group of very young musicians with a vivacious performance using movements, drums and percussion instruments of Borneo.
GENG WAK LONG  (Kelantan, Malaysia)
The state of Kelantan in Peninsular Malaysia is rich with musical traditions like the Mak Yong, Wayang Kulit, Silat, Dikir Barat, Tari Inai and more.

Mohammad Kamrulbahri bin Hussin has spent much of his life immersed in this culture and now fiercely nurtures and protects the music and arts he has inherited. Winner of many awards, either solo or with an ensemble - among them the Boh Cameronian Art Awards 2004 & 2005, 2009; and the 2011 Selangor Young Talent Award for Performing Arts.

He brings to the Rainforest World Music Festival a wonderfully crafted insight to music of the North-Eastern regions of Malaysia.

Foot tapping old-time roots dance music from Prince Edward Island.

They won the Galaxie Supernova Award at the Ottawa Folk Festival 2012 and voted the 2011 Music PEI Showcase Artist of the year.

Their music is fresh air, wholesome sunshine and happy smiley dance tunes.

HOROMONA HORO   (New Zealand)
Taonga pūoro are the traditional instruments of the Maori people of New Zealand. They are precious and intrinsic to the community – they tell stories, echo the sounds of the natural world and serves as the soul of communication, rituals and daily happenings that could be the rising dawn or the planting of crops.

Horomona brings echos of Mother Earth and stories from his ancestors.

JAGWA MUSIC   (Tanzania)
Mchiriku came from the poor suburbs of Dar es Salaam. It is street wise, cynical, hard-edged – telling stories of urban survival, misfortunes of daily life and voodoo.

The vocals tell the tale, but the strength of the music is in the hands of the master drummers, inciting all into an accelerating frenzy of dance and excitement.

Jagwa Music will be the closing band for the festival.

The first Welsh band to play at the Rainforest World Music Festival - this is happy, full of joie de vivre music.

Jamie Smith with his amazing dexterity on the accordion, leads the band through gentle melodies, exuberant reels, elegant dances and mad jigs – all the ingredients of Celtic music at its best.

They have just been awarded “Best Group” in the Spiral Awards Nominations 2014.

A heady mix of entrancing male voices, beautiful polyphonic harmonies, lyrics in the mysterious Basque language, thudding drums, enticing pipes and the wonderful texture of the txalarparta conjuring up images of the old country.
Spine tingling stuff.

They have also performed with the most unlikely of stars – the Labèque sisters, and in 2012, they toured with Madonna.

They bring songs, dances, rituals and drums from the region of Kerala in South India.

The songs have been passed down by oral tradition. The dialect they sing in comes from an archaic past.  They sing of raw emotions – earthy, human and real.  Propelling trance rhythms take the show from the spiritual to accelerating and pulsating hypnotic energy.  

Occitan was the language of the troubadours in 10th century Provence area who spoke of love, war, political satire, everyday life.

Lo Cor de la Plana, led by Manu Theron, bring their gorgeous voices and percussion, be it on their frame drums or body percussion. Listening to them is like being seduced into a schizophrenic mix of medieval church choristers and bawdy pagan revelers.

In 2003, their first album “Es lo Titre” was awarded the Grand Priz de l’Academie Charles Cros, and in 2005, the Prix SACEM des Musiques du Monde”.

NADING RHAPSODY (Sarawak, Malaysia)
Winner of the Rainforest World Music Festival Talent Award in 2012, these young musicians have gathered old folk tunes from the different indigenous communities in Sarawak and put a fresh contemporary stamp on it without losing the mystique and simple beauty of the way of life in Borneo.

They chant from verses learnt from their elders, sing in Bidayuh, Iban and in the words of the Orang Ulu.

RYUZ (Japan)
Japanese art of music and singing is in a completely different pulse from usual Western art forms – it is often governed by the nature of human breaths rather than a metrical pulse. 

Min'yō   , the traditional folk music reflected everyday life – working songs, religious songs, children songs, songs of birth, death, weddings.

Ryuz gives a powerful performance from the unique voice and taiko drumming of Shigeri Kitsu, the virtuostic manipulation of the tsusgaru-shamisen by Nobuto Yamanaka and the compositions of Kazuki Kunihiro.

Fiesta dance time with the band playing Son Cubano which gave rise to all salsa music.

The mix of latina vocals, sweet sweet brass and African rhythms makes sitting down impossible as they bring to Borneo the groove right off the streets of Santiago de Cuba.

Feel good music.

Multi-instrumentalist and explorer in traditional instruments of many countries, musical techniques and spiritual soundscapes.

He combines styles from different countries, breaks down the barriers of what is expected, and produces new dimensions of meditative music, full of mysticism.

TALAGO BUNI (Indonesia)
The Minangkabau people live along the coasts of Sumatra and have their own code of life, culture and music.

This band merges the mystical Highland music with their Islamic religion and the more contemporary leanings of the coastal regions.

YAYASAN WARISAN JOHORE (Johor Darul Tazim, Malaysia)
The zapin travelled to the Malay archipelago hundreds of years ago, brought by Arab traders. It was based on a specific dance style accompanied by the gambus, oud, violin and traditional drums.

Yayasan Warisan Johore was set up to protect the state’s cultural heritage and it has one of the best professional zapin musicians and dancers in SE Asia.

A musical and visual show. 

LAN E TUYANG (Sarawak)
The entrancing music of the Orang Ulu straight out from the village of Long Semiyang.

Mathew Ngau, master musician and maker of the sape, the boat shaped lute of Sarawak performs with musicians on lutongs, jatong utangs and the haunting nose flute.

They come from the town of Limbang in northern Sarawak, performing on the highly valued gongs of the community.

This is the sound of the longhouses from the rainforests – ceremonial, reverent and sometimes festive.

They are led by Peter Sawal who champions the preservation of the old traditions in Sarawak.

To be held at Sarawak Cultural Village, Kuching from the 20th to 22nd June 2014, the festival will celebrate its 17th edition. It has been recognised, for the fifth consecutive time, by SONGLines magazine as One of Top 25 International Music Festival 2014. The Rainforest World Music Festival is organized by the Sarawak Tourism Board.

For more of the festival, logon to
Sarawak Malaysia Borneo… where adventure lives

Friday, 16 May 2014

Watching the tidal bores in Sri Aman | Sarawak | Malaysia

We often hear of comments that the benak (tidal bore) phenomenon in Sri Aman can only be viewed at certain times of the year. It is not true. In fact, it can be viewed twice a day throughout the year. Just that the tidal bores are bigger and more spectacular during king tide combined with dry season. But we won't bore you with science here. However, here is an interesting fact; the Batang Lupar Tidal Bore is ranked in the list of *Top 10 Tidal Bores... in the world

* Tidal Bore Research Society

Big tidal bores cresting along the Batang Lupar Sri Aman | Abadi Photography

Whilst tidal bores can be watched at other times of the year, they are not as big. And here is a tip should you want to see what this is all about. Get yourself a copy of the Sarawak Government Almanac and read the 'Kuching High Water' column, add another ten minutes to the listed time to determine when to be at the waterfront. Alternatively visit the Sri Aman Resident Office webpage to get the latest. Always allow yourself an extra ten to fifteen minutes to get into position.

Sri Aman has a tidal bore observatory called 'Taman Panorama Benak' where it gives you a vantage point to watch the surging waves as they travel up the Batang Lupar river - the third longest river in Sarawak at 200 km in length. 

Large crowd waiting for the tidal bore to surge past them at Pesta Benak 2013 | mikhaiLLU
The tidal bore seen as a thin line across the surface of the river in the distance. 

The front view of the Tidal Bore Observatory aka Taman Panorama Benak | mikhaiLLU

Above and below: Taman Panaroma Benak. Beneath the platform is a 'Tidal Bore Gallery'.

The panoramic vantage view of Batang Lupar | mikhaiLLU

Sri Aman hosts the annual Tidal Bore festival known as 'Pesta Benak', normally held in the month of May.

Besides the stand up paddle surfing (SUP) and board surfing spectacle, the festival has plenty of side-events such as speedboat and longboat race, exhibitions, stage shows and of course food! Pesta Benak attracts thousands each year and so it is advisable to book your room early. It is recommended to stay overnight as the tidal bore occurs early morning and late afternoon. At this point of publishing, the historical Fort Alice is undergoing restoration work. When completed, it will serve as a community heritage museum. The fort is located next to the Tidal Bore Observatory.

Colas and Rathbone duelling it out on the tidal wave | Abadi Photography
Left: Anthony Colas (France) Right: Kyron Rathbone (Australia) Pesta Benak 2013

The town of Sri Aman is a 3-hour drive from the Kuching, the capital city of Sarawak. To get there, you have to catch a bus from Kuching Sentral. Of course hiring a car will give you much flexible stops along the way, such as at LaChau bazaar.

Malaysian Airlines, Air Asia and Malindo Air flies daily to Kuching from Kuala Lumpur. Air Asia and Silkair (also code share with Malaysian Airlines) flies daily from Singapore. Do check their website for latest.

Sarawak Malaysia Borneo... where adventure lives

Friday, 11 April 2014

Introducing Borneo Jazz Festival 2014 performers | Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia

This is what you will expect at one of Malaysia's most enduring jazz festivals, the Borneo Jazz Festival now entering its ninth (9th) year. The festival will be held in Miri from the 9-10 May.

Here is the line-up for 2014:

Pianist and singer, Anthony  Strong was hailed as “England’s New Jazz Superstar” as his EP release reached No. 1 on the UK jazz charts in 2012.
In 2013, Anthony Strong beat Gregory Porter, Michael Buble and Harry Connick Jr. to become October’s No. 1 on iTunes and No.2 on the  jazz charts in the USA.
Rod Steward described him as amazing.  BB King called it “real great music”.
This is a once in a lifetime performance to watch.

BRASSBALLETT (Germany)An 11 member band from Hamburg that combines  brass playing with funky dance moves. They are both aurally and visually stunning!
This was the brain child of band leader Wassilij Goron who founded the band in 2011. They play jazz and funk based on pop, latin and classical themes while they dance hip hop, street style and salsa.
Their show is the ultimate festival experience.

DIANA LIU (Sarawak)
Sarawak’s own jazz singer songwriter Diana Liu has established herself in the music circuit of Beijing, China, while still performing often in homeland Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and other Asian cities.

She sings in Mandarin and English, works with jazz giants such as Lewis Pragasam and Idang Rasjidi.

She comes to Borneo Jazz with an international ensemble of  jazz musicians – Lewis Pragasam of Malaysia, Christy Smith of USA, Tan Wee Siang of Singapore, Greg Lyons of Britain.

Sweet and sultry vocals with an edge.

IRIAO (Georgia)
They fuse the famous Georgian jodling singing style of Krimanchuli with western harmonies.

The songs they sing come from authentic folk and polyphonic music and they infuse it with jazz and improvisatory elements.

Unusual, unique and extremely classy.

JUNKOFUNC (Malaysia)
Highly energetic rhythms with a touch of soul and lashings of funk. 
This band from Kuala Lumpur was first formed for the Genting International Jazz Festival in 2008 and has gone from strength to strength, growing in number as well as repertoire.
Punchy brass, powerful vocals and a pounding rhythm section.

MARIO CANONGE (Martinique)
The pianist with the flying fingers and the fiery energy of a tightly coiled spring – Mario is in great demand from big names such as Lavelle, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nicole Croisille, Ralph Thamar, Carter Jefferson.

He mixes into his performance, influences from his roots from Martinique as well as zouk, the beguine, the mazurka. He has created and performs in and with many different ensembles.

This is Caribbean jazz at its best.

An all male a capella group that floors their audiences by the sounds and tonal techniques they can produce. Six voices can sound like an instrumental ensemble.

They mix latin salsa, Cuban son and with their amazing vocal abilities, with a repertoire of songs taken from various sources. Their 2002 album “Cambio de Tiempo” was nominated for 3 Latin Grammy Award. 

A stunning mind blowing show

YK BAND (Indonesia)
A quartet from Samarinda whose music is a unique blend of Indonesian Borneo tunes built into western jazz techniques and improvisation.

South East Asian ethno jazz with a twist.

There is a pre-sale ticket offer now till 8th of May 2014. Click here for more ticket purchase details.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Borneo Jazz 2014 | Early Bird Tickets Offer | Sarawak

The early bird offer will expire 31st March 2014. In addition to the online ticket vendor, there are ticket outlets which may be nearby your location.The offer ranges from RM15 (1-day child) to RM55 (2-day Adult).

If you are living in Brunei Darussalam, the ticket outlets are MegaBorneo Tour Planner, Pan Bright Travel Service and Century Travel Center Sdn. Bhd.

For those living in Bekasi and Bali, Indonesia, the outlets are Destination Sabah Sarawak Indonesia representative office and Pan Bright Travel Service respectively.

Pan Bright Travel Service, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah is the appointed festival ticket outlet.

Sarawakians can check out their nearest outlets here.

About Borneo Jazz Festival
The 2014 will be the ninth (9th) edition and it is held in Miri, Sarawak.  This year, the performers are JunkOFunc (Malaysia), Vocal Sampling (Cuba), Brassballett (Germany), Mario Canonge (Martinique), Iriao (Georgia),  YK Samarinda (Indonesia) and Diana Liu (Malaysia).

Sarawak Malaysia Borneo... where adventure lives