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The differences and sameness of RWMF’s mini sessions

RWMF mini sessions
Slobodan Trkulja from Serbia teaching the crowd about the kolo dance.

Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) internationally known for its melting pot of different cultures and music was held for the 21st time recently from July 13 till 15.

While the audience reached its peak number on Saturday night, those who had attended the whole three-day festival would agree the real fun and magic happens during the afternoon sessions.

Now rebranded as ‘mini sessions’, the activities still carried the essence of RWMF workshops.

It had everything from interactive learning about world music instruments to impromptu jamming among the musicians.

RWMF 2018 Mini Sessions

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Rainforest World Music Festival would not be complete without the dance interactive workshop.

This year, RWMF saw an increase from the usual 27 to 50 sessions and even spread out from its official venue of Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) to nearby Damai Central.

Since its first installment in 1997, the afternoon sessions have seen a number of improvements and changes over the years.

One of its usual sites for the afternoon workshops, the Malay house had been completely dedicated to children sessions; a thoughtful move since the Malay house can only cater to a small crowd and it has usually been packed and hot during the afternoon workshops in previous years.

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Festival goers participating the traditional hoop dance of the Lakota (a Native American tribe) workshop.

Speaking of changes, the drum circle session by saw a change of scenery from its usual spot in front of the jungle stage.

For the first two days of RWMF, the circle took place at the Big Tent Damai Central before it was moved back on the final day to where it has usually been held since 2014 .

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The first two days of RWMF saw the drum circle by flocking the Big Tent at Damai Central.

However, the mini sessions still carried on its crowd favourite activities especially the themed music demonstrations and dance workshops.

For example of themed music demonstrations was the “Rhythm’s Gonna Get You”, a workshop featuring an array of different percussion.

This year’s percussion demonstration was conducted on Saturday showcasing a bedok (a Bidayuh drum from Sarawak), darbuka, conga and even a human percussion, a beatboxer.

Other themes music demonstrations were wind instruments, plucked stringed instruments and lutes from two continents Africa and Asia.

During these demonstrations, each musician had a chance to introduce their instrument before all of them coming together to produce an impromptu performance.

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A percussion-themed demonstration organised on Saturday (July 14) at the Dewan Lagenda.

Another crowd favourite every year and usually packed with participants is the dance interactive workshop.

Every year, SCV’s Dewan Lagenda and Iban Longhouse had played host to many dances from all over the world.

This year, these locations had witnessed cumbia (folkloric dance from Colombia), traditional hoop dance of the Lakota (a Native American tribe), kolo (a Serbian circle dance) and among others.

After 21 years in business, RWMF overall had its tweaks here and there yearly and some tweaks stay while others don’t.

Evidently the organiser, Sarawak Tourism Board gave the best to cater to all types of festival goers every year including those families with small children and fitness enthusiasts.

Apart from the mini sessions, there were also programmes for wellness and lifestyle such as yoga, zumba and belly dance as well as children sessions which were started a couple years ago.

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Each location now has its lineup activities displayed.

More photos:

Forbidden Fruits: The most Instagram-worthy spot of Rainforest Fringe 2018

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What can you make out of this surreal art installation?

The Forbidden Fruits, an art installation of large woven fruits exhibited at Borneo744 as part of the Rainforest Fringe have been making the rounds on the Internet, especially Instagram.

Thanks to surreal lighting effects and creative application of different Sarawakian ethnic weaving styles and skills, the installation has been receiving many visitors since it was first opened to the public on July 7.

Forbidden Fruits, an art installation like no other

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Adults and children alike taking photos at the art installation.

Looking at the project as a whole, it is a narration of the life-cycle of fruits from seeds to germination, from propagation to decay.

Each art piece was actually a woven craft made by several of Sarawak’s indigenous communities.

Altogether there were 60 uniquely woven ‘fruits’ making up the ensemble of Forbidden Fruits, a project which seeks to investigate the possibilities of expression through traditional rattan weaving, in order to restore that sense of meaningful in the modern context.

It is also set out to navigate the social acceptability and taboos as fruits when ripe is suitable for consumption but forbidden to consume almost at other stages.

This serves the question of why sex is still uncomfortable conversation to be had in public.

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An art piece inspired by Iban’s ketapu tunjang.

For non-artistic people who might not understand the poetic message behind the installment, the lighting and beautiful hand-crafted pieces make great background for photo-op.

Upon closer inspection, visitors might recognise some of Sarawak’s woven crafts such as the Iban ketapu tunjang (a hand woven rattan headgear with several pointed tops), an Orang Ulu ajat (rattan basket) and bubu (woven fish trap).

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Several half-finished rattan baskets dangling from the ceiling as part of the Forbidden Fruits art installment.

Ropes to give the impression of hanging roots, dried leaves and sawdust on the floor add to the feel that you’re stepping through the rainforest.

The Forbidden Fruits is a collaboration between Tanoti Crafts, Ranee Gift Gallery, Edric Ong, Keynote.Co, Justlight Enterprise and IDC Architects.

Rainforest Fringe Festival (RFF) visitors will be able to enjoy this installation for free till July 15 before it makes its Penang debut at George Town Festival this coming August.

About Rainforest Fringe Festival

Returning for the second time, Rainforest Fringe Festival aims to bring the best of Sarawak’s music, art, craft, film, photography, food and culture.

Held from July 6 to 15, the festival is held at different venues in Kuching including the Old Courthouse, Carpenter Street and Pullman Hotel.

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The floor is covered with wood-dust and dried leaves.
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The Forbidden Fruits art installation is definitely an Instagram-worthy spot.

Celebrating food, craft and arts with Sarawak Culinary Adventure

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A visitor trying to capture a serunding-making demonstration on video.

India Street Pedestrian Mall, which is usually quiet at night came alive during the recent Sarawak Culinary Adventure from July 6 to 8.

Themed “A Celebration of Food. Craft. Arts.”, the event was organised by the Sarawak Culinary Heritage and Arts Committee.

The committee is a nonprofit group aiming to introduce Sarawak’s rich and diverse cuisines as a platform to promote tourism.

A celebration of food, craft and arts with Sarawak Culinary Adventure

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India Street Pedestrian Mall came alive at night during the Sarawak Culinary Adventure festival.

More than 50 stalls selling about 120 dishes from the Iban, Kayan, Kenyah, Bidayuh, Melanau, Malay, Punjabi, North Indian, Kelabit and Chinese communities.

For three nights, foreign and local visitors alike flocking more than 150-year-old street for to taste the various culinary heritage of Sarawak.

Guests were able to choose from Foochow’s Mee Sua, to Kayan’s dinu (rice fritters) and Iban’s ayam pansoh (chicken cooked in bamboo).

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Sape player Danison Manium giving a live demonstration of sape music.

During the event, patrons were also treated to different Sarawak musical heritage such as Orang Ulu’s Sape, Indian dhol and Bollywood dancing, Chinese opera as well as Melanau bamboo dance.

Hyped with the great food and exciting music, the street was turned into a dance floor at some points with visitors from different age and races dancing together.

Another highlight of the event was the KINO Heritage Live Kitchen, a free workshop and live demonstration to give visitors a hands-on experience of preparing some of Sarawak signature cuisine.

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All business in the chapati-making competition.

These workshops include how to make Melanau linut, Malay serunding, ketupat weaving and even Chinese mooncake.

On top of the food, music and dancing, Sarawak Culinary Adventure gave local crafters a platform to promote their crafts such as bead necklaces, handmade soaps and sape.

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There were plenty of Sarawak crafts on sale too.

The culinary event kept the environment in mind by preparing bins for proper food waste disposal.

Local social enterprise WormingUp was there to collect the waste and also educate the visitors on food waste dilemma.

The Sarawak Culinary Adventure festival was also held in conjunction with the Rainforest Fringe Festival from July 6 to 15 in Kuching.

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Erhu and ruan players performing on stage during Sarawak Culinary Adventure.
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A dancer in Orang Ulu warrior attire performing at India Street.
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A vendor making oyster omelette.
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The Chinese Opera troupe performing a traditional piece.
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Get to know Sarawak’s unique edible jungle seeds and fruits.
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Barbecued goodies anyone?
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A stall selling books by Sarawak authors.
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A festival goer browsing through the array of bead jewellery.
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Did somebody call me? Sarawak Culinary Heritage and Arts Committee president Datin Dona Drury Wee enjoying the festivities.
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Sarawak Culinary Adventure was a place to enjoy good food make toasts to new and old friends.
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A festival is not a festival until there’s dancing!
Sarawak Culinary Adventure
A demonstration on how to make Malay ginger serunding.

Guide to forts in Sarawak built during the Brooke Era

The Kingdom of Sarawak was established from a series of land concessions by the Brooke family famously known as the White Rajahs.

In fact, it was even recognised as an independent state by the United States in 1850 and the United Kingdom in 1864.

The founder James Brooke and his successors Charles as well as Vyner built forts every time they acquired a territory from the Sultanate of Brunei.

As a result, forts mostly made of belian or ironwood can be found in almost every town in Sarawak.

Some of the forts in Sarawak were well-kept and turned into museums.

Another handful were abandoned, losing all trace of their former glory.

The rest were either destroyed, burnt down or bombed, leaving no physical evidence of their very existence.

Nonetheless, here is a brief guide on forts in Sarawak built during the reign of the White Rajahs:

1. Fort Emma in Kanowit (1859)

When it was first built in 1859, they only used timber and bamboo. It was named in honour of Emma Brooke, Charles’ sister.

2. Fort Brooke in Sibu (1862)

There was a fort built by the Brookes in 1862, believed to be located at present day Channel Road. However, the building was demolished in 1936.

3. Fort Alice in Sri Aman (1864)

Here is another fort named after the first Ranee whose full name was Margaret Alice Lili de Windt. The fort was built in 1864 with belian wood.

The oldest heritage building in Sri Aman, now it is also known as Heritage Sri Aman Museum.

4. Fort Keppel in Bintulu (1868)

The White Rajah started to build this wooden fort in Bintulu in 1862. They named it after Sir Henry Keppel who was a close friend of James and Charles.

Keppel was responsible for ending Dayak piracy in the Saribas between 1840 and 1850. The building was made of belian wood and had a cement floor.

Unfortunately, it was completely destroyed when it was hit by a bomb in 1942 during the Japanese occupation.

5. Fort Charles in Kabong (1878)

Fort Charles was first built by a Brooke officer named Maxwell in 1878.

Like most of the forts in Sarawak, it was used as an administration office and also to collect taxes.
In 1893, the fort collapsed due to soil erosion and was rebuilt further inland in 1895.

6. Fort Margherita in Kuching (1879)

Back in the olden days, a cannon shot was fired from this fort every evening to mark the end of the government work day.

Now, Fort Margherita plays home to the Brooke Gallery displaying historical documents and artifacts.  The fort was named in honour of Charles’s wife Ranee Margaret.

A night view of Fort Margherita.
A night view of Fort Margherita.

7. Fort Sylvia in Kapit (1880)

This historical fort was built in 1880 and named after Ranee Sylvia, Vyner’s wife.

From May 1997 till now, the Sarawak state government authorised the Tun Jugah Foundation to set up a museum in this building.

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The front door of Fort Sylvia.

8. Fort Vyner in Belaga (1884)

It was named after the third White Rajah Charles Vyner Brooke.

The fort was officially declared complete on Jan 13, 1884. Belaga’s oldest government building was burnt to ashes in May 2015.

9. Fort Lily in Betong (1885)

Fort Lily was built in 1885 right after the Saribas area was ceded to the Brookes.

It played a significant role as defence centre during the war against Iban warrior Rentap.

As of 2017, the fort has been locked up from public access and its grounds appear untended.

A view of Fort Lily through its locked gates.
Signage pointing to Fort Lily.

10.Fort Florence in Trusan (1887)

On Jan 3, 1885, Trusan river and its area were ceded to Kingdom of Sarawak.  A fort was quickly built in 1887.

According to reports, it was named Fort Florence after Mrs Maxwell, whose husband was one of Brooke’s officers then.

11. Fort Ranee in Saratok (1888)

Ten years after Fort Charles in Kabong was built, Fort Ranee was built in Saratok on top of Satagok hill.

Initially, it was built as an temporary building with attap roofing and timber. During its glory days, it was used as a district office.

12. Fort Limbang (1897)

This two-storey fort was built in 1897. The first storey was made of belian timber while the ground floor was concrete. Sadly in 1989, the original building was burnt to the ground.

But it was then rebuilt on the original site with the exact design. It was turned into Limbang Regional Museum on Aug 27, 1994.

13.Fort Hose in Marudi (1901)

The construction on this fort began in 1889 and were completed in 1901. It was named after Charles Hose, the then resident of the Fourth Division.

Currently, it is also  known as Baram Regional Museum.

Fort Hose

14. Fort Burdett in Mukah (1911)

Fort Burdett was named after 19th century philanthropist Angela Burdett-Coutts. She was a good friend of the first Rajah.

During WWII, the original building was burnt to the ground.

15. Fort Arundell in Lubok Antu (1912)

Fort Arundell was constructed in 1912. It was named after the then resident of Simanggang division, Gilbert Roger Harris Arundell.

Unfortunately, he was killed in 1942 when the Japanese attacked Sarawak during WWII.

16. Fort Leonora in Engkilili (1924)

This fort was built in 1924.

Unlike the rest of forts in Sarawak, this fort was not built to defend the kingdom from any attack.

It was built purposefully as an administration centre in Engkilili.  The fort was named after Vyner’s eldest daughter Dayang Leonara Margaret.

The original building was taken down to build the current district office.

17. Fort Long Akah (1929) and Fort Lio Mato in Baram

Fort Long Akah is located about 10-minute boat ride from Long San. The two-storey building was built as an administrative centre in 1929 using belian wood.

During WWII, it acted as a temporary headquarters for the British and Australian forces.

As of 2016, the building was reportedly still in a depleted state and overrun by jungle.

Apart from fort Long Akah, fort Lio Mato is another fort located along the Baram river.

Also neglected, this fort is located only 50km from the border with Kalimantan.

Historically, it was used during Sarawak-Indonesia confrontation in the 1960s.

18. Fort Brooke in Nanga Meluan, Julau (1935)

Asun Paing was a former penghulu born in the late 19th century in Julau.  He led a rebellion against the Brooke government over taxation.

To halt his revolt, the Brooke built a fort in Julau in 1935.

Over the years, it was used as a district council office and police station.

After years of neglect, it was repaired under a project funded by the Ministry of Tourism in 2012.

Do you know any forts in Sarawak which are not listed here?

Let us know in the comment box.

10 things to know about Sarawak’s Bornean bearded pig

If you have been to Bako National Park, then you have seen one of its leading stars, the Bornean bearded pigs (Sus barbatus).

There, they can be found strolling along Bako’s beaches or hanging around the park’s headquarter and chalets.

These creatures are so used to visitors that they couldn’t care less about the presence of people.

More commonly known as wild boar,  Bornean bearded pigs live in almost every type of habitat from the beach to the mountain top.

Just as their name says, they have beards and sometimes tassels on their tails.

Bornean Bearded Pigs
Say hi to the Bornean Bearded Pigs of Bako.

Here are 10 things you need to know about the Bornean bearded pigs found in Sarawak:

1.There are two sub-species of Bornean bearded pigs.

The first subspecies Sus barbatus barbatus can be found in Borneo and at the tip of Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines.

The second one is Sus barbatus oi which ranges at the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra.

2.They have a wide variety of favourite food.

According to Sarawak Forestry Department website, these pigs enjoy fallen fruits and seeds, roots, herbs, earthworms, and other small animals.

3.Bearded pigs are destructive to plantations.

Apart from that, they also feed on young palms and cocoa fruits making them destructive to plantations.

4.Borneans have been hunting them for the last 40,000 years.

An archaeological excavation at Niah Cave showed that bearded pigs have been hunted by people of Borneo as far back as 40,000 years.

5.They are an important source of protein.

Bornean bearded pigs are high up on the natives’ hunting list because they are a source of dietary protein.

The meat is usually barbecued, cooked in soup with various vegetables, or made into babi salai (smoked pig).

6.Their bones are usually kept as trophies.

In a study by Earl of Cranbrook and David Labang published by the Sarawak Museum, it is common for rural people of the Malayan and Southwest Pacific regions to keep trophies from their hunting.

For example, the Penan people keep or hang the skulls, lower jaws and mandibles of bearded pigs.

7.These pigs can swim.

Bornean bearded pigs are known among naturalists for their periodic mass movements.

They can travel some distance to find food and even swim across rivers. Some believe they even swim to offshore islands.

8.Python versus bearded pigs; pigs win

Robert Shelford, a former curator of Sarawak Museum wrote one of the earliest records of these mammals.

In his book ‘A Naturalist in Borneo’, he described an incident witnessed by a fellow naturalist Ernest Hose who was also the brother of Charles Hose.

“Hearing one day in the jungle, close to his house at Santubong, a tremendous noise of wild pigs grunting, snorting, and squealing, he ran out to see what was the reason of it, and presently came on a large python that had seized a young pig and was endeavouring to crush it. The snake was surrounded by a number of full-grown swine, which were goring it with their tusks and trampling on it; so resolute was their attack that the python was compelled to relinquish its hold of the loudly protesting young pig, when the herd, catching the sight of Mr. Hose, hastily made off, the young one, apparently little the worse for its adventure, trotting away with its companions. Mr Hose examined the snake, and found it to be so slashed and mangle that it was unable to crawl away from the scene of battle.”

9.Their populations are in threat.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed Bornean bearded pigs as vulnerable as its population has been in decline over the last two decades.

IUCN also stated there are three primary threats facing bearded pigs. These include the conversion of forests for agriculture, particularly oil palm and rubber, fragmentation of remaining habitat, and unsustainable logging primarily for dipterocarps.

10.It is illegal to have more than 5 kilos of its meat in your possession.

Here in Sarawak, Bornean bearded pigs are not listed as protected species so it can be hunted for consumption.

However, according to Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998, commercial sale of bearded pigs is strictly prohibited.

The sellers can be fined up to RM5,000 while the buyers can be fined up to RM2,000. If you have more than five kilograms in your possession, you will be deemed having the intent to sell it. Thus, you can also be charged up to RM5,000.

Santubong Jungle Trek trail, the perfect loop hike for noobs

There’s more than one way to explore Mount Santubong. Besides taking the trail which goes up to the summit of Mount Santubong, did you know that you could also take a loop trail through its jungles?

There are two official trails provided at Santubong National Park, namely the Mount Santubong Summit Trail and Santubong Jungle Trek trail.

The jungle trek trail is a loop trail which takes about two hours to finish. It is perfect for those who are not that into hiking but still want to taste a bit of nature.

Both the Santubong summit and jungle treks follow the same path at first.

About Santubong Jungle Trek Trail

Located at the foot of Mount Santubong, this loop trail is considered to have an easy to medium difficulty hiking rate.

Both summit and jungle trails start with the same path until you arrive at station F.

From there, the trails split. The Santubong jungle trek trail is marked with blue signs while the summit trek has red markings.

The highlight of the jungle trek is a beautiful waterfall with a hanging bridge. The waterfall site also offers BBQ pits, benches and a small hut.

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The highlight of Santubong Jungle Trek trail is this beautiful waterfall.

If you are planning to take this hike on weekdays, chances are high that you might have the whole waterfall to yourself. That way, visitors can truly enjoy the serenity and tranquility Santubong has to offer.

But if it is a visit during the weekend, the waterfall can be crowded with people.

Since it is an easy trail to the waterfall, the site is also popular for families with young children.

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A hanging bridge looking over the waterfall.

After the waterfall, the trail requires a bit of hiking uphill until it reaches Station N which is the summit of the Santubong Jungle Trek Trail.

Here, there are two benches surrounded by tall trees for visitors to rest at.

Don’t expect peace and quiet or to be 100% enveloped by the sound of nature at this spot as you can still hear the faint sounds of vehicles going past the national park.

Then the trail will go downhill with ropes provided along the steep track.

The jungle trek trail ends where it started – at the Santubong National Park HQ.

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After reaching the summit of Station N, the trail will lead to a downhill hike.

Some precautions to remember

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Take extra precautions when passing over a rocky stream like this.

Though the trail is considerably easy to hike, visitors still need to take some precautions.

First of all, the bridges and boardwalks can be slippery and even dangerous when they are wet.

There are a few which look like unmarked trails diverging from the main trail which can be confusing at times. So hikers are advised to watch out and follow the marked signs carefully.

If you are planning to hike this loop trail, remember to enjoy what Mother Nature can offer. There are so many things to admire, from trees to insects.

Other signs which visitors can watch out for are those naming some of the tree species found at Santubong.

Some of these species are Meranti Pitis (Shorea ovata), Kapur Keladan (Dryobalanops beccarii), Rengas Sudu (Gluta aptera), and Kayu Malam (Diospyros graciflora).

As always, we encourage readers to never leave your rubbish behind. Use drinking flasks instead of bottled water when you can, and take plastic bags to carry back your rubbish to dispose of at home.

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Can you name this dragonfly species?
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The wooden bridges and boardwalks can be slippery so be careful.
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Watch out for the ants!

Legends and conspiracy theories about Tasik Biru, Bau

All over the world, lakes have been the subject of folklore and legend. There is Loch Ness in Scotland and Danau Toba in Indonesia as well as Malaysia’s very own Tasik Dayang Bunting  in Langkawi and Tasik Chini in Kuantan.

Sarawak has her own fair share of mythical lakes and one of them can be found about one hour from its capital city of Kuching.

Located in Bau, Tasik Biru (which means “blue lake” in Malay because of its colour) is not a natural lake but an open pit gold mine.

Its original name was Tai Parit or “big drain” in the Hakka dialect.

The gold mine was operated by the Borneo Company from 1898 until it was flooded in 1921.

Since it was flooded in 1921, many rumours and legends have been floating around about the lake.

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Tasik Biru is not a natural lake but a mining pit

The legends from underneath the lake

Chang Pat Foh wrote in The Land of Freedom Fighters that an old miner told a story about a human-shaped stone removed from the bottom of the lake.

Some believed that the stone was a deity named the King of Stone. The deity was angry that he was removed from the lake so he decided to flood the lake until it overflowed.

There were also rumours of three monsters appearing in Tasik Biru back in 1988. The large figures were reportedly about 3m long!

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There were also rumours of three monsters appearing in Tasik Biru.

The tragedy long forgotten

Besides myths and legends, the lake was also witness to an awful tragedy.

On June 7, 1979, a bus carrying students and teachers from SMK Lake, Bau plunged into the lake in an accident.

The tragedy took the lives of one trainee teacher and 29 students.

A monument is planned to be erected near the lake in remembrance of the 30 victims.

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The lake was the site of a tragedy in 1979.

Conspiracy theory about Tasik Biru

There is a signboard warning the public against swimming, fishing and bathing in Tasik Biru.

This is due to the fact that Tasik Biru has high levels of arsenic.

A local Chinese daily once reported a conspiracy theory about the arsenic warning. Apparently, there were people who believed that the lake was not actually polluted with arsenic and that the warning was made up to stop miners from excavating the large quantities of gold underneath.

Another piece of hearsay was that the state government was planning to dry up the lake to mine the gold.

Additionally, it was rumoured that people had discovered Japanese samurai swords and cannonballs from World War II, said to be thrown into the lake by the Japanese forces themselves during their occupation.

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Some people believed that the lake buried ammunition from World War II.

A home to Jong Regatta

Putting aside the legends and conspiracy theories surrounding the lake, one thing for sure is that visitors still make their way to Tasik Biru for the Bau Jong Regatta.

Jong is a miniature sailing boat some believe was inspired by the Royalist, a schooner owned by the first White Rajah of Sarawak, James Brooke.

The regatta, however, was first started by a colonial officer named A.J.N. Richards in the 1950s.

It was held several times over the past few decades until it was revived as an annual event in 2009.

The event is usually organised in the last quarter of the year so watch out for the this year’s date to visit this scenic (yet) arsenic lake.

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Head to Tasik Biru for Bau Jong Regatta.

Kuching-Serian Itinerary: What can you do in one day?

Serian is a modest town located 40km outside Kuching, Sarawak’s capital. Famous for its durian and its fresh produce, it is also gateway to a number of waterfalls and natural beauties in the area.

If you are looking for things to do in a day from Kuching to Serian, here is a Kajo-tested and approved itinerary.

All you need to have for this trip are a car, Waze or Google Navigation, change of clothes, snacks, drinking water, binoculars (optional) and spirit of adventure.

Kuching-Serian Itinerary: What can you do in one day?

1.Panchor Hot Spring (9am-10am)
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Dip your feet at Panchor Hot Spring.

Start your day with breakfast at home or at any of these Kuching’s favourite foods in town.

Make sure to start driving from Kuching by 8am. The first place to visit in this Kuching-Serian itinerary is the Panchor Hot Spring located at Kampung Panchor Dayak.

This hot spring is famous among locals who are looking for natural healing.

If you find the temperature too hot for you to have a whole-body soak, just dip your legs into the pool.

The minerals in the water are believed to soothe joint pains and rheumatism.

Read more about Panchor Hot Spring here.

2.Ranchan Recreational Park (11am-12.30pm)
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Explore the pools and waterfalls of Ranchan Recreational Park.

After experiencing the high temperatures at a hot spring, perhaps you want to cool down.

So head to Ranchan Recreational Park located right outside Serian town.

Ranchan offers visitors a chance to unwind in pools surrounded by rainforest.

Take your time to explore the park or just sit down by the waterfall and listen to the water crashing against the rocks.

Read more about Ranchan Recreational Park here.

3.Lunch at Serian and a visit to Serian Market (1pm-2.30pm)
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How about giving a plate of fried noodle with seafood a try at Yee Siang Bak Kut Teh, Serian?

If you packed your lunch, then enjoy it at Ranchan. If not, head to Serian town to nourish your body.

One of the best places to have your lunch is at Yee Siang Bak Kut Teh.

The place is famous for its crab satay, prawn satay and tom yam coconut prawns.

Once you’ve had your meal, try to explore Serian town. The best place to start is at Serian Market.

There, visitors can find plenty of local vegetables and fruits.

Right next to Serian market is a row of local craft stores. Besides the local Bidayuh accessories and costumes, you can also find some traditional handicraft from our local ethnic communities such as the Penan woven baskets.

4.Semenggoh Nature Reserve (3pm)
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Try to take a wefie with an orangutan at Semenggoh Nature Reserve.

To end your Kuching-Serian road trip, navigate your way to the Semenggoh Nature Reserve.

It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to reach Semenggoh from Serian.

Say hi to the orangutans there and observe their behaviour.

Their feeding time in the afternoon is at 3pm so make sure to arrive there on time.

If you are into birding and brought along your binoculasr, Sarawak Tourism Board website highlighted that there are at least 23 species you can spot at this reserve.

These species include Sunda Frogmouth, Red-crowned Barbet, Red-naped Trogan, Blue-winged Leafbird and Hooded Pita.

By 4pm or so you can end your Kuching-Serian trip by saying goodbye to the orangutans.

Read more about Semenggoh nature here.

Semenggoh Nature Reserve, where the orangutans live and thrive

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Visitors admiring the magnificent orangutan.

Located about 20km from Kuching, Semenggoh Nature Reserve is usually on a tourist itinerary when in town.

However as a locaI, I believe every Sarawakian should visit this place at least once in their lives.

Although we pride ourselves as being the home for orangutans here in Sarawak, I bet not all of us have actually seen one in real life.

And one of the nearest and accessible places to see an orangutan in the world is none other than the Semenggoh Nature Reserve.

This place has been a rehabilitation centre for young orangutans who have been unfortunately orphaned or rescued from captivity for more than 20 years.

The program which trains the young into healthy adult orangutans has been transferred to Matang Wildlife Centre.

But Semenggoh still plays home to some of the program’s graduates.

Most of them prefer to roam the forest but frequently come back to the reserve during feeding time.

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A tourist trying to catch an orangutan on camera.

Get to know Semenggoh’s official residents

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A group of tourists trying to capture an orangutan in a wefie.

The most interesting part of visiting Semenggoh Nature Reserve is getting to know the orangutan.

During my visit, three orangutans thought I was worthy of their presence.

The first one was whom they called the ‘Grand Old Lady of Semenggoh’.

Her name is Seduku and she was born in 1971. She is now a mother of three – Analisa, Saddamiah and Ganya.

The second orang utan is Edwin, a male born in 1996.

He is believed to be strong contender to Ritchie’s throne, the big boss (dominant male) of Semenggoh.

I visited the reserve on the day Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim was released from prison.

And interestingly, Annuar the orangutan also decided to show up during my visit at Semenggoh.

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Annuar impressing the visitors with his moves on the rope.

He was born in 1998 and is known to be real lady killer in the reserve.

Visiting the feeding area of Semenggoh is unlike going to the zoo.

There at Semenggoh, the orangutans are the VIPs. Hence, visitors need to make way for them at all times.

Guests are required to listen to the park ranger’s instructions.

At one point when we were leaving the feeding area to the park headquarters, we had to scramble back to the feeding area.

Apparently, Seduku was leisurely using the park’s trail (instead of swinging from the trees) to make her way to the feeding area.

We had to wait a few minutes to make way for her till the rangers told us the path was clear.

To learn more about orangutans at Semenggoh

Apart from observing the orangutans at Semenggoh Nature Reserve, visitors will learn a thing or two about this primate.

For example, do you know that the dominant male orangutan does not like to see his reflection in the mirror? This is because he thinks that his reflection is another male orangutan.

They also make use of their opposable thumb by peeling the banana skin before they eat.

Visitors are not allowed to bring plastic bottles into the feeding area because the baby orangutan uses them to drink milk.

Other rules at the reserve are to be quiet at all times at the feeding area, turn your flash off while taking photos and of course, no littering.

Show your support for the orangutans

Those who want to show their love and support for the orangutans can do so at Semenggoh.

With as low as RM200 annually, visitors can do their part by adopting an orangutan.

The money goes to food and medication for the orangutans at Semenggoh and Matang, orangutan conservation projects and education programs.

The best times to visit Semenggoh are during orangutan feeding times, 9am to 10 am and 3pm to 4pm.

Read more about this nature reserve at Sarawak Tourism and Sarawak Forestry Corporation websites.

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Follow the rules!
Get to know the plants at Semenggoh too!


Ranchan Recreational Park, Serian’s famous picnic spot

Ranchan Recreational Park in Serian might not be on top of everybody’s list of places to go for recreation but on weekends, the place is famous among local people as a favourite picnic spot.

It is accessible, located about 70km from Kuching and 5km from Serian offering waterfalls and pools surrounded by rainforest.

Ranchan Recreational Park and its facilities

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About 10 years ago, the facilities in the park were run-down and in need of an upgrade.

Over recent years, however, Ranchan’s facilities have improved significantly. The park now has a canteen and small eatery, a public toilet, and the trails are properly maintained.

There is a viewing tower, a suspension bridge and huts for resting.

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The park even has a hall which can accommodate up to 300 people at a time. It is available for rent to host official functions, dinners, charity exhibitions or even a concert.

For those who are looking for something small, the park has a lecture room to accommodate up to 60 people.

Otherwise if you’re looking for a place to stay in Serian, Ranchan Recreational Park also offers affordable chalets to rent.

Serian District Council is responsible for managing the park.

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There are several barbecue pits for visitors who are looking to roast their own food at the park.

However as the place is famous among locals and school kids, looking for nice private spots for a picnic might be difficult.

Visit this place during weekdays and you might have several pools to choose from all for yourself.

Beware of flash floods at Ranchan

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Besides being famous as a picnic spot, Ranchan is also infamously known for the ‘kepala air’ or the ‘water column’ phenomenon.

It is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the area when flash flood bursts down over the waterfall.

The management advises visitors to be cautious when taking a dip at Ranchan as this flash flood might occur anytime.

Make sure that you and your family members evacuate the area immediately when you see these signs:

  1. The first sign is the sky suddenly turns dark, especially in the hilly area and is accompanied by a the sound of thunder;
  2. The sound of falling rocks from the headwaters;
  3. Finally, water levels in the Ranchan pools will suddenly start to rise and bubble.

Here are some photos of Ranchan Recreational Park:

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