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Tourism Malaysia

iNyala & REX’s Revival

The iconic REX Cinema in Kuala Lumpur – an institution synonym with the 50’s generation – is given a fresher breath with a new look and new role. A big, neo-classical building nestled between Petaling Street, Jalan Sultan and bustling Kotaraya Mall, REX building is now a new icon in the capital, attracting youngsters and art lovers, not forgetting visitors from afar.

Once an attraction for Hollywood’s movies and Shaw Brothers’ legacy, the building was no more an old cinema with a parking lot. Long abandoned and untouched by time, the building managed to survive the development and commercialism. Fast forward, REX has transformed into an arts and social juncture branded as REXKL, with fresher look and liveable activities. As few small events starting taking parts in the venue, one big inaugural event that taking place at the moment is iNyala – the avant garde art programme for all to participate.

According to the organiser, iNyala is the first event in which college/university students will be able to contribute fresh, higher level ideas by incorporating the iNYALA theme: “Imagine the Impossible”, under the guidance of industry professionals. Unlike conventional mediums, innovation will play a key part in conveying the creative aspects to encourage appreciation and value in the arts.

The objectives are vivid. Promoting emergence of art and technology in Malaysia; nurturing a new generation of artists through unconventional mediums and platforms; and connecting people via engaging and responsive art pieces. With a combination of technology and multi media, the artworks are expected to be extremely rare for Malaysian scenes. The event started with a series of workshops from August until October 2019, followed by main exhibition in November. So watch out this space!

Back to now REXKL, much thanks to the ‘collective of like-minded architects, social innovators, brand identity builder and filmmaker, who comes together to repurpose the Rex Cinema building into a commerce-driven community space for all. Thoughtful content and processes that are in respect of the cinema’s history and its present community had been put in place to reshape the building and rebuild its social interaction within the community of Jalan Petaling, Jalan Sultan and dwellers of Kuala Lumpur city at large. REXKL was born out of our desire to reimagine a community space in the heart of the city – where individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds can meet and build connections.’

Event: iNYALA
Workshops: August to October 2019
Exhibition 1 to 30 November 2019
Address: REXKL, 80 Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur (Next to Petaling Street)
Email: [email protected]
web: http://inyala.my/home/

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Categories
Malaysia Travel Guide

RWMF CLOSES WITH 23,650 FESTIVAL-GOERS

KUCHING – Sarawak’s headliner tourism attraction, the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) has proven that it is more than just a music festival if this year’s sell-out crowd is anything to go by. A capacity crowd of 23,650 from all parts of the world attended the three-day festival.

rainforest world music festival (rwmf) 2019 finale

RWMF performers, musicians with volunteers cheering on the stage during the final night of RWMF 2019 held at the Sarawak Cultural Village.

This year’s nightly concert was artfully arranged in a seamless and flawless sequence. The 2019 line up featured 30 bands and over 200 performers. From the Chilean island of Rapa Nui in the South Eastern Pacific Ocean, Ballet Folcloric De Chile Bafochi showcased their spectacular costumes and sensual dance moves. From the South West Pacific Ocean, Wai from New Zealand gave mesmerizing performances at the Theatre Stage and at the mini sessions throughout the three-day festival.

Five Sarawakian bands, more than any of the years before, were featured this year. At Adau brought their legions of fans who danced along with their vibrant performance, fusing ancient melodies and rhythms of different tribes. Kemada featured traditional Iban music, games and culture while Suku Menoa presented Iban music, rituals and chants. Staak Bisomu provided a glimpse of the Bidayuh cultural heritage and Suk Binie’s performance was an energetic mix of traditional melodies from various ethnic communities of Sarawak. Darmas, from Malaysia, comprising of six young musicians got the crowd dancing to the rhythms of traditional Malay classics.

While the evening concerts draw in the crowd year in and out, this year saw an increase in audience for the afternoon interactive and education workshops. The same goes to the jamming sessions and mini concerts. There were more than 30 mini sessions held at the Iban longhouse, Bidayuh Terraces and Dewan Lagenda. These traditionally designed venues added to the diverse mix of musicians, to create a unique experience of jam sessions for the audience.

rwmf workshop

The diversity of culture and the instruments created at a rwmf workshop is a crowd favourite.

The Emerging Band Stage this year featured nine local bands over the course of the 3-day festival. Their performances were well-received by both local and foreign fesitval goers. Side activities held during the day. The RWMF partners include Friends of Sarawak Museum, Rainforest World Crafts Bazaar and Sarawak Biodiversity Centre.

What About Kuching (WAK) @ RWMF made their debut this year as artists, artisans, poets, sports trainers, and filmmakers from the Kuching community liven up the atmosphere at Damai Central. This multi-purpose recreational complex is located right next to the Sarawak Cultural Village. Certainly, the Sunset Stage was a big draw with a multitude of local bands entertaining the festival goers.

Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) intensified their greening initiatives this year. The biggest impact among these iniatives was from discouraging the use of plastic bottled water. An estimated twenty thousand plastic bottles were saved from the rubbish tip. Festival goers brought their own empty bottles which they could fill from water dispensing stations supplied by Cuckoo. For its waste management strategy, STB worked with Trienekens (waste management authority) and partnered with Spativate (a social enterprise) in coming up with eye-catching designs on waste bins. Biji-Biji, an social enterprise, was on hand to make sure waste was collected for composting. STB also continued the tradition of tree planting and this time, the site was at Pantai Puteri, Santubong Village.

cuckoo water refill station rwmf 2019

One of the many water refill stations dotted around festival ground.

rwmf urbins by spativate

Specially designed garbage bins to encourage proper disposal of litter.Twenty two years ago, the RWMF began as a very small gathering of 300 people. Fast forward to 2019, the festival has gained worldwide recognition and won multiple awards. For the three days at least it was a little too easy to forget that there’s a world outside the festival site.

Next year’s edition of the RWMF will be held from July 10 to 12, 2020.

STB is a winner of the Asia Pacific Excellence Awards 2016 by Asia-Pacific Association of Communications Directors (APACD) and has received the ASEAN PR Excellence Award 2015 Gold Award. The Rainforest World Music Festival is a five-time Top 25 Best International Festivals recognised by Songlines World Music Magazine (2011 – 2015) and won the Golden City Gate 2019 five-star award for the Rainforest World Music Festival’s (RWMF) promotional video.

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Categories
Tourism Malaysia

Lost “Kuih” of Yesteryear

Growing up, I always looked forward to Hari Raya for a few reasons, one of which was the yummy ‘kuih’ or cookies only available during this festive season. My favourites included cashew cookies, peanut cookies, ‘bahulu’, makmur cookies, batang buruk and putu kacang, to name just a few.

 

‘Bahulu’ and makmur cookies were an extra favourite because these were made by my great-aunts who made these the traditional way, and each year they had orders by the thousands from their regular customers.

As time went by, most of these cookies are now easily and readily available, but after tasting one or two, the quality of the cookies sold now are a far cry from the traditional ones from yesteryear.

One of the reasons may be due to the fact that the ingredients used have changed and been altered to suit the nature of the business these days where it is required for the cookies to have an extended shelf-life, and of course, cost.

While this is all good, and it helps create some awareness of some of the long-forgotten cookies, we can’t help but yearn and mourn for the loss of the tradition of baking cookies just a few days before Eid, while families come together and gather for the big celebration.

 

Perhaps in this fast-paced world, we compromise on tradition in favour of speed and convenience. However, of late, there are still a few people who try and uphold the old traditions, and hopefully this practice will catch on and be a ‘trend’ amongst the newer generation who might be interested in reviving and maintaining a bit of their cultural heritage.

 

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Categories
Malaysia Travel Guide

Malaysia Airlines Signs Partnership with Sarawak Tourism Board for 2019

Malaysia Airlines Signs Partnership with Sarawak Tourism Board for 2019

LONDON, 6 November 2018:  Malaysia Airlines signed a partnership agreement with Sarawak Tourism Board yesterday to boost tourist arrivals to Sarawak and raise the profile of the destination in the UK.

Under the new agreement, Malaysia Airlines and Sarawak Tourism Board will fund a range of campaigns and promotional activities, including Digital Campaign Promotions, to boost domestic and international travel to Sarawak, OOH media to promote sale campaigns on print and taxis and joint-promotional activities with selected travel partners.

The agreement was signed at this year’s World Travel Market in London’s ExCel Centre by Sarawak Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer, Sharzede Datu Salleh Askor and Malaysia Airlines’ Chief Marketing Officer, Arved von Muehlen.

Arved von Muehlen, Malaysia Airline’s CMO, said: “We are delighted to be working with Sarawak Tourism Board even more in 2019 to showcase all that the region has to offer following agent familiarisation trips and  press trips jointly organised last year. Sarawak has a plethora of culture, adventure, nature, food and festivals ready to be discovered by the British public.”

Sharzede Datu Salleh Askor said: “We look forward to working closely with Malaysia Airlines to showcase the wonders of Sarawak to the world. The strength of the airline’s network and the quality of their product resonate strongly with travellers.”

The World Travel Market is a three-day conference bringing together travel professionals, key industry buyers, journalists, digital influencers, students and tourism ministers to discuss business, innovations and trends in the travel industry. Last year’s event sparked a million meetings, resulting in around £3 billion in contracts.

Malaysia Airlines also recently renewed its global partnership deal with Tourism Malaysia. The two parties will jointly invest in promoting Malaysia in key overseas markets including China, Australia and the UK.

Malaysia Airlines operates twice daily between London and Kuala Lumpur on its new Airbus A350. To take advantage of the airline’s great prices guests can book their tickets at Malaysia Airlines’ participating travel agents or visit Malaysia Airlines’ website at

https://www.malaysiaairlines.com/uk/en.html

 

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Mohamad Din Ketapi (second from right), with Tuan Haji Mohammad Ibrahim Nordin, STB Board of Director member (right), Sharzede Datu Salleh Askor (centre), Arved von Muehlen (second left) and Captain Izham Ismail (left), flanked by Malaysia airlines stewardesses and a cultural troupe in traditional orang ulu garb.

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Categories
Tourism Malaysia

MAGIC OF SHADOW AND LIGHT

One of the age-old performances that is still being practiced today but becoming increasingly rare is the Wayang Kulit. Imagine a show where music, light, shadow and masterful storytelling come alive under one roof, transporting you back to ancient times, and leaving you, the audience, breathless and delighted in the fact that you may have just witnessed a centuries-old living heritage unfold right before your eyes.

This specialty theatre, a must-watch whenever you are in Malaysia, can be found in Kedah and Kelantan. The Wayang Kulit is a live theatre performance orchestrated by the main puppeteer, Tok Dalang, who controls and breathes life into various puppets as he narrates epic dramas to the accompaniment of live music.

The Wayang Kulit traditionally begins with a loud shrill call made by the instruments – traditionally, this was to call the village people from around to gather for a night of storytelling. The Wayang Kulit stage is a basic setup consisting of an area for the spectators who usually sit on the ground. Another area, separated by a linen cloth which is essentially the screen, is where all the puppets, musicians and Tok Dalang are seated. Normally, this space is small and dark, with everyone cramped together with bulky instruments, but here is where all the action takes place.

Here’s a secret: watching the behind-the-scenes show as the theatre progresses is just as great as being an audience! You will see exactly how everything – the music, the storytelling, the light, the puppets, the narration – falls into place under the genius orchestration of one Tok Dalang. Indeed, it is quite the performance to see the Tok Dalang and the musicians create a perfect symphony of music and storytelling.

To create the shadow play, light from an electrical or oil lamp is projected towards the puppets thus casting shadows on a fabric screen separating the performers and the audience. The Tok Dalang sits behind this screen, ready to conduct the show. It is certainly not an easy task to be a Tok Dalang because he has to manipulate more than 10 puppets during a typical performance that can last several few hours, remember all their characters – some are evil, some are heroic, etc., modulate his voice to suit the characters, and also conduct the orchestra at the same time with 10 to 30 musicians.

The language in Wayang Kulit performances can somehow confuse the audience due to the dialect used, for example the northern Kedahan and the eastern Kelantanese dialect. But rest assure, it is not really hard for you to understand the main storyline guided by the Tok Dalang’s voice tones and simply enjoy the music.

Puppets used in Wayang Kulit originally are made out of water buffalo hide and goat hide, and mounted on bamboo sticks. However, the best puppets are typically made from young female buffalo parchment, cured for up to ten years. Each puppet, a stylized exaggeration of the human shape, is given a distinctive appearance and not unlike its string puppet cousins, has jointed ‘arms’.

Historically, the stories narrated in Wayang Kulit are strongly influenced by Hindu and Javanese cultures. Maharaja Wana (Rawana), Sri Rama (Rama), Siti Dewa (Sita), the Laksamana, and the court clowns, Pak Dogol and Wak Long are some of the main characters in most performances. Hindu Epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata were performed through Wayang Kulit as a means to spread the religion. The Mahabharata is an epic narrative of the Kuruksetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pandava princes, while Ramayana is an ancient Indian poem which narrates the struggle of the divine Prince Rama to rescue his wife Sita from the Demon King Rawana.

These days, the modern Wayang Kulit emphasizes on stories that are relevant to current times, national or global issues, as well as comedy and entertainment. In fact, an adaptation of Star Wars called “Peperangan Bintang” with puppets made in the likeness of the original characters such as Sangkala Vedah (Darth Vader), Puteri Leia (Princess Leia) and Si P Long (C-3PO) has recently emerged as a variation of Wayang Kulit. These newer versions certainly appeal to a younger audience and those living in the cities and is a great way to reach out to them about a dying art.

There are four main versions of Wayang Kulit in Malaysia: Wayang Kulit Siam (Kelantan), Wayang Kulit Gedek (Kedah), Wayang Kulit Jawa (Selangor and Johor), and Wayang Kulit Melayu (Terengganu). Nowadays, only the first two Wayang Kulit are still being performed. If you are looking forward to watch the Wayang Kulit Gedek, there are various Wayang Kulit associations in Kedah and one of the notable one is Wayang Kulit Sri Asun. Meanwhile for the Wayang Kulit Siam in Kelantan, Wayang Pak Dain is recognized as the authentic Wayang Kulit performer there.

WHERE TO WATCH:

Gelanggang Seni (Culture Centre)
Jalan Mahmood, Bandar Kota Bharu,
15200 Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Tel: +609 748 5534 / 3543

Opening Hours:
Saturday – 3.30pm-5.30pm
Monday Wednesday – (3.30 pm – 5.30 pm), (9.00 pm -11.00 pm)

Wayang Pak Dain
Simpang 3 Morak,
Kampung Paloh, Wakaf Bharu,
16040 Tumpat Kelantan
Phone : +60179778929
Email : [email protected]

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