This is a 5 part series that showcases my experiences at the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) and also what I did in the city of Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.
Part 2 – This part contains My experiences at the 3 day cultural and musical display of the RWMF2018.
As I mentioned in Part 1, the RWMF is a musical and cultural extravaganza that fills up 3 whole days with its various events and performances and exhibitions. It is quite impossible to be everywhere at the same time, despite carefully planned and staggered schedules.
However, the very lucid program schedule is displayed as a large hoarding at the venue and one can chalk out an optimal plan on how and what to attend. The schedule can also be downloaded from the website. We as media, were given our copies and that really helped to decide where we wanted to be at what time.
On Day 1 we arrived late evening at the RWMF venue at the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) and were just able to catch a few performances on the Jungle stage and Tree stage, by troupes from Sarawak, Korea and Guinea. We also took a stroll around the various stalls at the venue, to orient ourselves.
Day 2 gave us more time since we arrived in the afternoon. The heat gets to you but the excitement of going around and viewing as much as you can, beats all the loss of moisture as you forget all about your sweating self and immerse yourself in the fascinating performances.
After a quick lunch, we were just in time to catch the Rajasthani Musicians of Bhungar Khan Company who along with their rare instruments of the desert and their high pitched vocals, created music that drove the crowds delirious. Combined with some clever adaptations of Bollywood music, they literally had the people dancing to their tunes. This was a performance not to be missed and we were glad that we managed to witness it.
This year the festival was extended to Damai Central, the ground opposite the Sarawak Cultural Village in order to host a larger number of events. After the Rajasthani show, we walked across to watch some of the cultural shows at the Amphitheater there. A hunter dance depicting the Iban head hunter stalking his prey, provided great entertainment, with the artiste interacting with the crowd and even choosing a member of the audience to be his willing victim 😀
There was also an interactive dance workshop called Chakunchak which is the traditional Joget (Malay dance) of the Malay community.
Well after this it was time to shake a leg or maybe a belly 😀 and we were off to the Belly Dance workshop where Helen Lim and Kenny Chan took us through the motions and had the crowd swaying and churning their torsos to the instructions.
The Chingay Parade was another not to be missed sight especially when the troupe does the balancing act on their head or shoulders, with a really long flag pole and tosses it from head to head !!! Well we got our chance to try our hand (or shoulder) at it and managed to hold on for a few seconds at least, without allowing it to crash on other people’s heads, which I am sure was not the way they intended to receive the pole 😀
We caught a glimpse of the colored skies at sunset at the tiny beach at Damai Central, before heading back to the main venue at SCV for evening shows.
The night brought out the stage performances and we were lucky to watch the Raghu Dixit Project from Bangalore, India, who with his charm, held the crowds spell bound with his music and even had them singing (and screaming) along … the indecipherable language notwithstanding 😀
After the show, we went around taking in the sights of the night and discovering Hohanna from Philippines who with her fascination for the mandala, had installed a large crocheted version illuminated with disco lights. She had also conducted a workshop during the day.
The performances go on past midnight but we left the venue at 10 pm because we had had a long day.
On Day 3 we just about managed to spend some time in the afternoon but again we were lucky to be on time to immerse ourselves in the high energy Spanish Flamenco and Rajasthan meet between the Rajasthani, Bhungar Khan Company who matched their high pitches with the equally enthusiastic Musicians of Alberto Marin from Spain. Truly a performance not to be missed, this had the crowds screaming in frenzy and asking for more.
Since I had to leave early to my hotel, I could not attend any of the other performances. However, I did want to document some of their local crafts and hence I had a brief and interesting chat with the team of Genserai Bungai which fashions Eco beads out of an amalgamation of the pith of the local sago palm and clay. This translucent material provides a media for ceramic artwork that includes various pieces of bead jewelry in colors that are evocative of the indigenous fruits of the Borneo forest.
Well being greatly out of time after this interesting discussion, I had to rush back to my ride but not without taking a few moments to imprint the pictures of the varieties of food into my mind and camera !!! (For an insane number of individual food pictures please check my Facebook link given below)
I had to miss out on the performances of the night but I certainly hope to be there again next year, armed with better strategies to encompass an optimal experience 😀
Keep an eye on their website for announcements and get ready to visit RWMF2019. You can thank me later !!!
Getting to Kuching from Kuala Lumpur –
There are several flights in a day, that connect Kuala Lumpur to Kuching. One can choose between Air Asia, Malaysian Airlines, Malindo Air which operate direct flights. There are also connecting flights from other airports like Singapore etc.
My travel dates – July 11th-16th, 2018
RWMF dates – July 13th-15th (Fri-Sun), 2018
Please Note – I visited Kuching and attended the festival, on the invitation of the Sarawak Tourism Board and Tourism Malaysia, which sponsored my flights, stay and related activities and I thank them for the same. The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.