Visit to Long Bedian and the Highland Folk Music & Dance Festival

Visit to Long Bedian and the Highland Folk Music Dance Festival

The Highland Folk Music Dance Festival is a musical and dance festival that showcases the cultural traditions of the different ethnicities in Sarawak.

First held in 2003, the event was organized to attract tourists to Long Bedian and other villages in Tutoh Apoh, as well as to become a platform to introduce traditional music to the younger generation in a vibrant and celebratory way, encouraging them to take up the mantle and continue their traditions.

All nine Orang Ulu ethnic groups under the Federation of Orang Ulu Malaysia (Forum) took part in the performances in 2016 which were held for two nights.  They comprise of Petipun Penan Sarawak, Sarawak Lakiput Association, Sarawak Lun Bawang Association, Sarawak Berawan Association, Sarawak Bisaya Association, Sarawak Kayan Association, Sarawak National Kenyah Association, Miri Rurum Kelabit and Sarawak Saban Association.

Beside that, the Federation of Miri Chinese Association (Long Lama), Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA), Miri Kadayan Association, Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Marudi) also participated.

The 2016 Highland Folk Music Dance Festival was also held to commemorate the first anniversary of Telang Usan’s elevation into a district and Long Bedian into a sub-district.

Music and dance performances over the two nights were held by the different ethnicities.

Around one thousand viewers were estimated to have attended the event over the course of two nights. Beside the cultural show, the organizer also invited a local singer to entertain the local who coming for the festival.

The Festival provided some side income for villagers selling food and drinks, as well traditional crafts, modern crafts with traditional ‘flair’ and event memorabilia. Over 10 government agencies including the Fire and Rescue Department, army personnel from the 9th Infantry Brigade, the Welfare Department, Kolej I-System, Malaysia Palm Oil Board (MPOB) and Agriculture Department were also present to give talks and cultivate public awareness on various subjects for the communities. Safety demonstration by BOMBA and cooking demonstration by KEMAS.  Various traditional games were held during the daytime which many visitors also participated in.  Apart from the performances, there were stall also set up by Penans from nearby longhouses who brought handicrafts such as mats, baskets bags and purses made from rattan to sell to visitors.


Sightseeing – The Town

Although there are only 3 row of shoplots, the township will surprise you on what you can find, despite its rural location! Its suggested that travelers visit in the morning, though most shops close during the festival (the shop owners can usually be found selling their wares at the festival itself.

The township is also the main trading point for the nomadic tribe, the Penans, to trade wild meat and their jungle ware/handicrafts with middle-persons, who will later resell them in their shops once the Penan have moved on.

The Longhouse

The longhouse, like many others in Sarawak, seems to house the elderly, the very young and their mothers.

Many other inhabitants have moved to larger towns such as Miri to make a living. Some of them have built their own house nearby the Long Bedian village. The community take up the usual agricultural activities to supplement their income.  They have rice fields or ‘sawah padi’ on the perimeter of the village, and sole have taken up planting oil palm.

The Waterfall

The journey to the nearby waterfall began with a 30 minute 4WD ride from Long Bedian to the Tenyok Rimba Resort, a community project that was built in the 1980-1990s. The resort is all but abandoned and is currently not open to the public for stays.

Parking the car at the resort, the waterfall is a short 15 to 20 minute trek through the reserve’s beautiful and prime rainforest.

Along the way, trekkers can admire rock falls and towering green trees, surrounded by the peace of the rainforest. The beauty of the reserve is punctuated by the serenity of the waterfall.

There are about 6 waterfalls located within Tenyok area where visitors can swim. The river running between the Tenyok Rimba resort and Long Bedian is a great place for a quick dip and a picnic.

The trip proved to be a memorable visit for the group. They express their gratitude to the guide Mr. Richard, and Ms. Joanna Ping Eng Oyok, the owner of D’village Homestay of Long Bedian (017 858 3166) where they stayed.

They group encourages the locals of Long Bedian to continue and even increase their efforts in pushing cultural musical and dance performances during the Highland Folk Music Dance Festival, encouraging the younger generation towards preserving their heritage. They also expressed hope for the future of the Tenyok Rimba Resort, which was beautifully located and would prove to be an amazing tourist location should the area be maintained, well managed and opened to the public once more.






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The Melanau Cultural Experience and the Pesta Kaul

The Melanau Cultural Experience and the Pesta Kaul

Mukah, a small town located in the central region of Sarawak always rich with its cultural value. Populated by the majority of Melanau people, Mukah now is a well-develop town/district and well known by its famous “Kaul” festival that celebrated every year. The Melanaus’ are one of the most celebrated ethnic tribes in Sarawak, known for their gentle, loving nature and seafaring skills besides making “Sago” and “Umai” as part of cultural practices that expose their popular traditions.


Among Mukah’s popular attractions, the crown jewel remains the “Pesta Kaul Mukah,” a festival full of the cultural heritage of the Melanau people in the region.

This product experience team will be experiencing the Mukah, Dalat and Oya as a tourism attraction while visiting the local yearly event held in Mukah on this 4D2N trip. During those four days, they visited sites such as the Sibu Central Market, Kut River jetty, the Church by the River and Jerunei Gardens, Kampung Judan the home of ‘kuih asli’ (a type of snack), an authentic Melanau Tallhouse Lamin Dana as well as the Pesta Kaul Mukah.

The first day of the expedition brought the team to Sibu for the night, with the journey beginning the next day.


Day 2: Sibu to the Church by the River, home of the Kuih Asli and the Melanau Tallhouse

The team began early in the morning to see the charming Sibu Market. Famous for its diverse organic jungle and farm produce, the fresh catches of the day and their traditionally preserved food. Sibu is a colourful representation of the Sibu community, a peak into their daily lives and dishes.


Next, the team traveled to Sungai Kut by speed boat, before stopping by at the Sungai Kut jetty to see the school and village.

An exciting boat ride

A quaint village


By afternoon, they arrived at the Church by the River and the Jerunei Gardens. The ‘Church by the Rover’ actually seems more like the church ‘on’ the river, with most of its structure supported on stilts over the moving waters of the river. It is a pillar of the community and a place for congregation every sunday and during ceremonies and community events.


The Jerunei Gardens is named so after the towering Jerunei at the centre of it, also known as a Kelidieng.  A plaque decorates the centre of the garden explaining the creation of Jerunei/Kelidiengs. While the English translation is not the best, vital information can still be gleaned from it. For the purpose of clarification, we have transcribed the message below:

“Jerunei or Kelidieng is a wooden post which measures up to an armful in diameter and is made of Belian timber, a type of wood that can withstand  exposure to extreme weather conditions for centuries. The Jerunei is carved with various kinds of patterns. Some have simple patterns, some of them are carved with complicated designs which takes years to finish. Those patters are made by the Melanau craftsmen. According to the legends, when a king dies, his corpse will not be buried immediately but will be placed inside a *casket. The casket later will be placed inside a special shelter near the Jerunei. After the corpse has rotted, the bones will be gathered and placed inside an urn. The urn containing the King’s bones will then be placed inside the Jerunei.

During the burial ceremony, a female slave’s daughter will be brought to the king’s family. THe child be be strung to the top of the Jerunai and left to starve to death. The reason behind this is so that hte spirit of the slave can serve the king in death, just as they had in life.

A male slave will be thrown into the Jerunei. His spirit will become the guard, waiter and oar craftsman for the King’s spirit on his way to the Death Realm, Likow Matai.

According to the given information, the earliest known location of a Jerunei is at Kampung Seberang Tengah and has been moved several times before settlng in its final location in front of the Dalat District Office in 1971. This Jerunei is estimated to be centuries old and is the last preserved and taken care of by the Dalat residents under the management of the District Office.

On 28 April 2008, the Jerunei was officially recognised for its historical and cultural significance and turned into the essential landmark at Taman Poket Dalat, becoming an eternal reminder for the Melanau Society on the lives of their ancient nobles, as well as a tourism spot.”



By evening, the team departed to Oya and transited to Kampung Judan, the ‘centre’ of ‘Kuih Asli’ making. Here they witnessed the preparation of the traditional ‘kuih’, which are crispy biscuits or snacks, as well as packaging. The famous kuih featured here are the Kuih Sepit (love letters), Tebaloi (dry sago), Kuih Jala, and Keropok Ikan (fish snacks).

Arriving at the Kuih Asli headquarters

A woman preparing Kuih Sepit
Packaged and ready for sale



The team then arrived at Lamin Dana where they stayed overnight, an authentic replica of a Melanau Tallhouse.

The Tallhouse has cosy rooms, decorated with traditional displays, photos and attire throughout.



Day 3: Mukah and Pesta Kaul

Bidding Lamin Dana farewell after a good night’s rest, the team cruised along the Telian River and Misan River towards Mukah. They stopped by Kampung Telian to view the village and see the logs of Sago in the river, the traditional method of transporting the logs through the natural waterways still the main method for these Sago farmers.

They arrived at the Mukah Waterfront and Market. The Waterfront is a great place to take leisurely walks, appreciate the sights and enjoy the sun and serenity. The Mukah Market sells dry and wet foods, with their signature being chopped fresh fish made especially for umai, a traditional delicacy made from raw fish which is cooked with the juice of limes, with other additional ingredients added for flavour.

Finally, the group headed to the main event: the Pesta Kaul.


It began as a  religious ceremony to appease the spirits of the sea, land, forest and farm. It is a ritual of purification and thanksgiving as well as one of the propitiation for good fortune. Today, the festival remains an annual event where the Melanau people of Mukah (though now no longer religiously practicing) keep their culture alive, gather together as one community and celebrate their traditions.

The Pesta takes place at Paintai Kala Dana and begins with the “Kaul Serahang Kakan Mukah,” an offering of traditional food in a special offering basket (the serahang) symbolysing the commencement of the ceremony.

The rest of the festival is full of fun and games, both traditional and modern, competitions and contests, food, decorations and traditional dance performances.

Tibau, a traditional game where you hold onto the rope, climb up the ladders on the left, and swing sometimes two at a time.

Lubak Salui Lukut, or the Lukut Longboat Races. The boats are made from wood and lukut leaves for sails.

Traditional displays and decorations throughout the festival grounds

Dancers preparing to dance the Mukun Ria, traditional dance of the Melanau

After the Pesta came to an end, the team headed back to town. Their journey through Melanau-land undoubtedly left them with fond memories, with the fun boat rides and breathtaking scenery that accompanied it, as well as the fascinating insights into Melanau traditions, from their architecture to their ancient funeral rights, to their Pesta Kaul where they continue to preserve their traditional games, food, dances, crafts and ceremonies.

Mukah, and Pesta Kaul, remain a great destination for visitors looking for a pure cultural experience among the Melanau people.


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Ramadan is a fasting month for Muslims all over the world. During this month, Muslims perform their obligatory abstinence from food and drink from dawn to dusk. But Ramadan is not just about fasting. It is also a time for spiritual reflection and devoting themselves to worship and pray to Allah.

For Malaysians, be it Muslims and non-Muslims, there’s another reason why Ramadan is one of the eagerly awaited months of the Islamic calendar. Perhaps the most special and distinguishing aspect of Ramadan in Malaysia is the Ramadan bazaars that can be found at almost every corner all over the country, offering a huge array of mouth-watering delicacies for you to break your fast with. A visit to these bazaars are a feast for the senses, especially olfactory, as you would be assaulted with all kinds of wonderful smells wafting in the air as you walk from one end to the other.

There is no better time for locals and tourists to titillate their taste buds than by touring the various buka puasa (breaking of fast) spots and trying out the various delicacies each site offers during the month-long Bazaar Ramadan held throughout the country. This year, the Bazaar Ramadan will be held during the fasting month from 17 May to 14 June.

As in previous years, there will be a variety of delicacies and freshly baked treats to tempt the eye from basketfuls of assorted kuih (sweet and savoury snacks) to rows of side dishes to complement a family dinner.

Usually, stalls open as early as 4.00 pm, when sellers start bringing in their wares. There are stalls selling fruits, drinks, foods and it will be a hive of activity with sellers arranging their foods, some grilling fish, with the smoke blowing gently in your eyes.

Try the specialty porridge, bubur lambuk (mix porridge), kueh jala emas (a form of sweet cake) found mainly in Kelantan, pulut panggang (grilled sticky rice with prawns in coconut mixture), ikan terubuk bakar (grilled fish), oh, and so much more!

The thirst-quenching ABC (air batu campur or syrupy ice shavings, with nuts, corn etc.), cincau (jellied drink), tasty soya bean drink, cooling sugar cane, are some of the selections of drinks sold at the bazaar.

Sometimes, especially on a hungry stomach, it is difficult to make choices of what to eat and drink for buka puasa. One would want to buy everything. It is such a great temptation with so much wonderful food!

The prices are affordable, and everyone can visit the bazaar. Just get ready for the thronging crowd, long queues, occasional shouting frenzy from the sellers vying for your attention and a truly local atmosphere. It is worth visiting a different bazaar every day as each bazaar offers a different experience and menu. It is advisable to plan what you want to buy beforehand and bring just enough cash as it is easy to get carried away at a Ramadan bazaar – resulting in you buying more than what you can stomach, which defeats the purpose of the holy month.

Food aside, the bazaar also enhances racial harmony, religious tolerance and boosts Malaysia’s image as a peaceful Islamic country.

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Take an amazing road trip on Federal Route 3 along the east coast of the country, and you will be passing scenic countryside, agricultural farms, and yonder, the azure blue of the South China Sea. Make a stop at Bachok at the edge of the sea where coconut trees sway peacefully in the breeze, and experience one of Malaysia’s best-kept secrets.


Malay woodcarving culture

Spend an afternoon at Akademi Nik Rashiddin (Nik Rashiddin Academy) for a thorough understanding of the Malay culture through its strong roots in traditional woodcarving.


The founder, the late Nik Rashiddin Nik Hussein, was an accomplished woodcarver who was passionate about the history of the region’s woodcarving traditions, particularly the Malay’s. The gallery is a treasure trove of valuable artefacts such as the traditional wooden Malay house and its architecture, Malay kris (dagger), bird cages, bird traps, traditional cake moulds, bed frames and more, all of which reflect the sophistication of the Malay culture. Special guided tours are available and, if lucky, are conducted by Nik Rashiddin’s widow, Rosnawati, who herself, is deeply knowledgeable on the subject.


You will leave the gallery awed and inspired by the brilliance of the Malay people whose deep affinity with nature was reflected in their highly astute sense of design and artistry.














For a predominantly Muslim state, there sure are plenty of Buddhist temples around, but that’s due to Kelantan’s proximity to Thailand. In Bachok, make time to visit the Photikyan Phutthaktham temple famous for its 108-foot gleaming white standing Buddha statue which can be seen from miles away. A pair of colourful dragons framing the entrance welcomes visitors to this temple. Other sights at the temple include the wishing three, where devotees throw colourful ribbons of wishes onto its branches, and the seated Buddha image behind a seven-headed dragon.


The call of the sea












Bachok’s seaside attraction is Pantai Irama, or the Beach of Melody, so-named due to the lulling call of the wind and waves as it hits the shore. It’s a major gathering place for the locals over the weekends (the east coast states consider Fridays and Saturdays as the weekends) so it’s the perfect place to get into the local action. Expect to see lots of activities then, such as banana boat rides, kite flying, fishing and such. Pack a picnic, light a barbecue or get snacks from the nearby vendors, and just chill with your feet in the sea – highly therapeutic! It faces the South China Sea and gets some fierce waves during the monsoon season (usually from November to March), so swimming is not advisable then.


Jetty to yonder!

Planning to visit the Perhentian Islands nearby? Bachok is a great place to put up the night before you make the 30-minute journey to Kuala Besut where boats await to speed you off to the twin tropical paradise islands. Tip: get the earliest boats in the morning before the waves get choppy.


Kelantan delicacies























Kelantan food is quite different from what you get in the west coast cities. Here, rice is a big thing, especially eaten for breakfast. There’s even a local festival that celebrates the 101 types of rice dishes in Kelantan. In Bachok, it’s easy to find a variety of rice dishes including nasi dagang, nasi berlauk, nasi tumpang and nasi kerabu. At tea time, don’t forget to order a nice cup of hot, sweetened tea to go along with the glutinous rice eaten with freshly-grilled fish, a real delicacy here. And if possible, always go for the seafood; fishing is one of the main economic activities of those living on the east coast, and you are always guaranteed to get the freshest catch of the day! Our favourite? The etok salai, freshwater shellfish that’s beautifully smoked with local herbs and spices to bring out its best flavours.


A history lesson

Bachok was one of the first landing points of the Japanese army when it invaded then-Malaya in 1941. A visit here would be an insightful experience for history buffs of how the war was fought between the British Indian Army and the Empire of Japan on the east coast.


The Nami Island of Kelantan























Instagrammers on the lookout for unique landscapes that capture the social media world’s imagination will not be disappointed with what Senok Beach has to offer. This beachside locale is a stretch of land where pine trees stand erect in neat rows, their pines needles catching in the gentle breeze. It’s a favourite spot not only for selfies and wefies, but also to commemorate special occasions such as weddings and graduation forever. The backdrop of the sea and the pine trees make a natural landscape for memories you want to keep.


The clay-makers













Kelantan is one of the main producers of singgora tiles – hand-produced thin clay tiles used on the roofs of many traditional wooden homes in the east coast. These tiles are favoured here due to the cooling qualities of clay and its ability to reduce indoor temperatures naturally.


The singgora tiles workshop (which can be visited) run by these two elderly ladies – Madam Noraini and Madam Natrah – are said to be the only one left in the entire of Malaysia.



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The Hidden Jewel of Borneo

The little-known Orou Sapulot, hidden away in the interiors of Sabah, has now become a new landmark in the naturalist map of Borneo, if not in Malaysia. This place is a majestic natural wonder that has inspired many travellers with its beautiful landscapes and the culture of the surrounding region.  It is fast becoming a must-see destination on every adventure traveller’s itinerary.

Situated off Keningau in Sabah, “Orou” means “Sun” in the native language of the Murut, the third largest indigenous ethnic group of Sabah, whose lives intricately revolve around the forest and natural surroundings. Vast tracts of greenery and unique flora and fauna are found in this territory, while some zones are considered sacred to the Muruts, but are now ready to be visited. An experienced guide will lead you to this largely uncharted world of wonders.

From Kota Kinabalu, one can take transportation to the town of Keningau and direct to Orou Sapulot, a journey that lasts between two and three hours all together. Upon arrival in Labang, access Pungiton Eco Camp by boat, or choose to stay at the wooden huts of Kabulungou Waterfall or Romol Wooden Longhouse, either which will give you the experience of being immersed in nature.

Due to the diverse geological landscape of the area, there are opportunities to explore caving in the sacred Pungiton Cave, jungle trekking to inspect the exotic plants and wildlife, rock climbing to Batu Punggul, and rapid shooting down the river.

A visit to the local village will open up your eyes to the culture of the region with its unique food, rituals and celebrations. Don’t forget to sample the intoxicating local rice wine.

The 3-day 2-night Orou Sapulot adventure by Sticky Rice Travel was recently awarded a Malaysia Tourism Award for Most Innovative “off-the-beaten-track” tour package.

If you want to have jungle trekking with a cultural touch, Orou Sapulot is the place to be. “Pristine, history-rich, challenging and mysterious” are a few of the words that can describe the place if you have yet to go, but “memorable” is the word to use if you have been there!

EMAIL:                [email protected]
TEL:                     +6019 2277 077

*Community Eco Tourism Project for the Murut tribe in North Borneo



ADRRESS:         134 Jalan Gaya, 3rd Floor, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
EMAIL:                [email protected]
TEL:                     +6088 250177 / +6088 250588 / +6019 982 9005

* winner of Malaysia Tourism Award 2016/17

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