Sarawak is home to a wide diversity of ethnic groups, many thousands of species of fauna and flora, and contains unique architecture, evoking emotion on all who have the privilege to gaze on them. If you’re visiting the State for a holiday, you may not have enough time to experience the best that this haven for nature and culture has to offer. The Rainforest Fringe Festival (RFF) does a wonderful job bringing together all aspects that Sarawak is best known for – art, nature, history, tradition, and culture.
Taking place between Borneo 744 and the Old CourtHouse across 10 days (July 6 to 15), visitors will be immersed in a sensory experience, where they will be able to escape into the chronicles of Sarawak. The programme will feature many sections highlighting a different side of Sarawak’s charm and will be held at different times throughout RFF.
Whilst you’re at the rainforest Fringe Festival (rFF), enjoy a range of exhibitions, marketplaces and activities that will deepen your understanding of Sarawak. Furthermore, be prepared for all senses to be overwhelmed whilst you’re here!
Sarawak, An Indigenous Journey, is a debut performance carried out by various local indigenous groups that illustrate the social fabric of this quaint State. Expect song and dance like you’ve never seen or heard before. Raziman Sarbini, a Sarawak-born New York-based dancer, and Dewi Liana Seriestha, a Malaysian Miss World Talent 2014 winner, will contribute to the performance. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime show and perfectly summates everything to love about Sarawak – your eyes and ears won’t know how to thank you!
The sights here are a huge attraction, with people travelling from far to see for themselves. From the buildings and plant species to the interesting cultures on display, what better way to showcase the best of Sarawak than through a series of galleries and exhibitions. Chris Rainier, a National Geographic Society Fellow, will feature his artistic portfolio of Sarawakian tattoos used by different ethnic groups. As each tattoo tells its own story, Siew Thaim Lok’s gallery walks you through the history of Kuching’s famous Carpenter Street. Other exhibitions will give insight into these precious cultures that were previously hidden from the world.
Speaking of rare items, collectors will have a field day at The Market. Shoppers with a keen eye will find the best of Sarawakian artisanal products on offer, including antiquities and handmade ornaments. Festival-goers can also indulge in the street food, an apt opportunity to taste the many cuisines from the different communities.
If you’re looking for a more tactile experience, you’ll enjoy the “Bamboo: That Binds & Wood” exhibition, which is split into three distinct sections; a Creative Forum, an experimental area named “Redesigning Bornean Crafts”, and a Bamboo Musical Installation. International speakers from Australia, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and India talk on preservation strategies utilising wood and bamboo. For those of us more inclined to tinkering and craftsmanship, the experimental area sees three designers from Thailand and three designers from Taiwan combine with local artisans to push the boundary on Bornean styles. The Bamboo Musical Installation is currently shrouded in mystery, but we can reveal it involves a giant bamboo angklung and a famous Indonesian band collaborating to create a special musical event! The different ways bamboo is used for business and leisure will be all but displayed here to great effect.
With taste, touch, sight, and sound handled, we move onto our final sense – smell. There isn’t a better source of smell besides nature. Explore the jungles and traverse through the rainforest to get up close and personal with the wide array of Bornean wildlife. Adrenaline junkies will get their chance to go water rafting like intrepid explorers they are, or even dirt biking for that burst of speed they’ve been craving for. However, if retreat is your cup of tea, Yoga In The Wild is a three day bodily and spiritual retreat within the forest, away from the noise and distraction of daily life.
There are just so much else happening here that we couldn’t include all the details! You’ll be able to hear experts playing traditional instruments from West Africa and Persia, whilst comparing the sounds to the sape, a traditional lute of the Orang Ulu. For a more uptempo scene, let loose in the garden party with DJ’s laying out hot mixtapes to keep your feet moving all night long! There are also guided tours of the exemplary Brooke Gallery and Sarawak Museum.
There’s something for everyone here, yet RFF is a festival that is completely dissimilar to any other. Make your visit to Borneo memorable and experience for yourself the wonders of Borneo.